Thursday, December 13, 2012

Ayurvedic treatment strategies for cancer management and its relevance in modern oncology

After the lunch session was dedicated to holistic medicines. The first topic covered was Ayurvedic Identification and Conceptual Analysis of Cancer by Dr. B.V. Kumaraswamy, Retd. Professor and Head : Indian Medicine Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology.

Dr. Kumaraswamy went to explain the role of Ayurvedic treatment strategies for cancer management and its relevance in modern oncology.

He attributed the cause of cancer to technology and modern development taking place in the society which has brought in along with it carcinogens. Studies conducted so far have shown that cancer has risen dramatically since the Industrial Revolution, particular childhood cancer – proving that the rise is not simply due to people living longer.
Taking example from the quotes of Bhagavad Gita, Dr. Kumaraswamy explained the importance of mind power and the influence it can have on our lives. He also quoted Charaka who had mentioned the qualities required by a person to become a physician.
Charaka says the person who can become a physician should have excellent medical knowledge, should posses experience, should have dexterity and should be pure.
There are numerous cases of cardiovascular disease in our times. In the past we never heard young people dying of heart diseases, but now the age of people affected by heart problems is coming down. Though cancer and many maladies are afflicting humans now, the Acharyas of the past spoke about them. It is amazing to note that they had extensive knowledge of the problems that were not prevalent in their times.
He spoke about the scientists who had been awarded noble prize for their research. The research was already present in the book written by Shushruta.
Few years ago the hazards of led in petrol was discovered. The use of lead additives in gasoline has been one of the main contributors to the exposure of urban populations to lead.  Children in developing countries may be particularly vulnerable to exposure because they spend a significant part of their time on the streets, and often lack proper nutrition that increases their susceptibility to lead poisoning. With the phasing out of led everyone were happy, but unfortunately Dr. Kumaraswamy says the replacement of led has more carcinogenic substance in them.
Ayurveda describes cancer as inflammatory or non-inflammatory swelling and mention them as either Granthi  (minor neoplasm) or Arbuda  (major neoplasm). Ayurveda defines three body-control systems, the nervous system (Vata or air), the venous system, (Pitta or fire), and the arterial system (Kapha or water) which mutually coordinate to perform the normal function of the body.
Malignant tumours (Tridosaja) are very harmful because all the three major bodily systems lose mutual coordination and thus cannot prevent tissue damage, resulting in a deadly morbid condition.
He spoke extensively about Dosha, Dhatu and Ojus which are the three main constituents of our body. When there is proper balance among these constituents, the body will be in equilibrium and healthy. Imbalance in them will lead to disease and death.
There are in all seven dhatus in the living body, namely, Rasa, Rakta, Mansa, Meda, Asthi, Majja and Shukra. Dhatus are the main physical constituents of the body and are responsible for the maintenance of physical state of the body.
Dosha controls the physiological activities of the body and is responsible for pathology. It is one of three bodily humors that make up one's constitution.  Ayurveda states that good health exists when there is a balance between three fundamental bodily humours or doshas called Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
Ojas is the cream present in every cell of the human body which is the essence that gives the tissues strength and endurance, the force that keeps the tissues healthy.  Composed primarily of earth and water  and produced from the essence of Shukra, Ojus is known as the force of stability which provides the body with the ability to fight against disease. When the Ojus is strong, there is absence of illness as no disease can affect the body. Ojus is also known to stabilize the mind and keep it in peace. Ojas is the sap of one's life energy which, when sufficient, is equated with immunity and, when indeficient, results in weakness, fatigue and ultimately disease. Medical science is yet to identify the correlate of ojas.
Ojas is diminished by under eating, overeating, eating when previous food has not yet been digested, consumption of poor quality food that results in the blocking of the channels, consumption of stale foods, canned foods, fermented foods like cheese, meat, irregular diet, excessive exercise, fasting, negative emotional stressors such as anxiety, anger, sadness, grief, hatred, jealousy, long held resentment, fear, grief, consumption of alcohol, smoking,  lack of sleep, excessive discharge of mucus, blood, semen and other excreta, with age and injury by other organisms, undue exposure to wind and sun, excessive sexual activity.
Endogenous and exogenous toxins causes severe damage to Ojas according the Ayurvedic etiology. When the Ojas is damaged the Vish bypasses Doshas and attacks Dhatus thus causing illness and diseases. The latest trend where people are served fruit salads and ice-cream is very wrong method as creates imbalance in digestive system. Frozen food is not good for health.
Earlier in Samudra Manthan first there appeared Halahala a poison and then amruta, but nowadays we have only vish no amruta anywhere with our spoilt lifestyles.  Visha damages Ojas and Raksha. Virudda Ahara and Vishama ahara are the wrong diets that lead to illness. Ayurveda has classified food into five type of wrong diets.
1. Quantitative dietary deficiency - This includes under-nutrition due to insufficient food, and even starvation
2. Qualitative dietary deficiency- This includes wrong food combination which results in malnutrition, toxic condition and lack of essential nutrients.
3. Qualitative and quantitative over- nutrition - This includes emotional overeating which can result in obesity and/or high cholesterol which can lead to hypertension, heart attacks or paralysis.
4. Toxins in food - Certain foods and food combinations lead to toxemia and to certain digestive disorders.
5. Foods not suitable to one's constitution may affect natural resistance and cause disease.
The pathogenesis of cancer has 5 phases
Induction phase – 15 -30 years
In Situ Phase – 5-10years
Invasion phase – 1-5 years
Dissemination Phase – 1-5 years
Sushruta has proposed six stages in the pathogenesis of all diseases, but his concept suits more to the pathology of the tumor than the pathogenesis itself.
Sanchaya : Early stages of localized neo plastic changes
Prakopa: Transformation of primary growths into metastatic tumors
Prasara: Metastasis
Sthana samsraya: Complete metastasis and secondary growth
Vyakti: Clinical signs and symptoms are expressed
Bheda: The stage where differentiation of growth occurs on the basis of histopathology
Treatment Strategies followed in Ayurveda for cancer
·         First it aims at elimination of Doshas
·         Removal of toxins and purification
·         Restoring balance among doshas and dhatus
·         Reorganize dosha dhatu and mala.
In short we can say that Ayurveda overhauls all the pathways of all systems.
Therapy Strategies of Ayurveda include
·         Poorna Karma
·         Pradhana karma
·         Surgery
·         RT and Rasayana
·         CT and Rasayana
·         Agni Karma or Radiation
Ayurveda advocates a specific procedure called Shodhana which is a purification process to remove toxins.
All rasayana remedies described in Ayurveda are considered as promoters of ojas. There can be varying degrees of specificity of the effects of Ayurvedic rasayanas even on nutritional dynamics. There are rasayanas which may have specific beneficial effects on specific organs and tissues such as the brain, heart, skin, eyes, hair etc. These are classically called medhya rasayana, hrdya rasayana, tvacya rasayana, caksusya rasayana and kesya rasayana. They may be specific medicinal nutrients for the respective tissues and hence, promote their health.
With the help of proper ayurvedic treatment studies have shown that 50% need of radiation comes down.  Dr. Kumaraswamy explained how ayurveda can help in control and treatment of hematological malignancies also.
The rejuvenator group of herbal medicines in Ayurveda is termed as 'Rasayanas'. The micronutrients, which are one of the key ingredients of Rasayanas, are beneficial to the body, because they improve health, immunity, vigor, vitality and longevity of life. The branch of rasayana or rejuvenation is one of the eight specialized branches of Ayurveda that primarily deals with the maintenance of health. Rasayana is defined as any herb, food, or activity which confers youthfulness and cures diseases. If taken in a proper way, the rasayana prevents early aging and keeps you young and active both physically and mentally.
Meditation and music goes a long way in helping the person to heal.
Dr. Kumaraswamy explained the important of using spices while cooking food, as most of them had specific medical properties. Chilli, which is harmful spice, is not origin of Indian culinary diet.  He also elaborately explained the importance of the morning rituals which also had medical healing powers. He also explained the importance of pachamurta and tamboola.
Significance of the ingredients of Panchamrut/Panchamrit/Charnamrit
Milk is for the blessing of purity and piousness.
Yogurt is for prosperity and progeny.
Honey is for sweet speech.
Ghee is for victory.
Sugar is for happiness.
Water is for purity.
Overall it was a very good holistic view of Indian ways and Indian medicine which can help people


  1. In ayurveda there is treatment for cancer and it is curable in starting position,this post gives complete details about the cancer treatment in ayurveda.

  2. In Ayurveda cancer is a Complicated disease that is known to grow out of control and affect the surrounding tissues and the organs. It is typically starts with a predominace of one. Maharishi Ayurveda hospital offers effective Ayurvedic Drug And Herbs Used According To Specific System Location Cancers.

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  4. Thanks for sharing information
    Ayurveda therapies when applied with skill and care work on both the physical and psychological levels to invigorate, relax and ease pain or tension from stiff aching muscles, boost circulation and alleviate mental stress, soothing the soul and fostering balance and serenity.