Ayurveda is a continuum of medicines rooted in India. The key ingredients are oral formulas, nutritional and behavioral changes, and Yoga and meditation. Herbs like Curcumin are useful but should be used under control. Yoga and Ayurveda assist in alleviating the side effects of cancer and its therapies. Ayurveda comes from the Sanskrit words ayur (life) and Veda (knowledge) and dates back over 3,000 years. Treatment is uniquely formulated and consists of oral formulas including plant, mineral, seasoning, and food components; purgatives; improvements in diet and lifestyle; and enhancement in mental health through Yoga or meditation. Centered on these principles, Ayurvedic doctors prescribe individualized treatments consisting of medicinal substances or patented ingredients, and lifestyle guidelines for food, exercise, and other aspects. The ayurvedic practice may include several forms of treatments and therapies, including:
- Dietary advice and special diets
- Ayurvedic medications
- Herbal medicines
- Yoga, breathing and relaxation techniques
- Bowel cleansing
Cancer and Ayurvedic Medicine
Cancer is the world’s second-largest cause of death, and Chemotherapy is the most widely used form of diagnosis. Patients of cancer suffer from the adverse side effects of chemotherapeutic medications and turn to herbal therapies in search of treatment. Natural treatments such as Ayurveda, in cancer therapy, make use of plant-derived ingredients, which may minimize harmful side effects.
There is very little evidence of the efficacy of Ayurveda against cancer. Still, studies of individual treatments suggest anticancer properties and tentative effects as well as efficacy in treating symptoms as seen in these examples:
- A 2017 study concluded that withaferin A, which has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine, is effective against gliomas of high quality.
- Aquilaria Spp. compounds (Agarwood) show anti-inflammatory effects and anticancer.
- Ocimum sanctum Linn has been demonstrated in clinical trials for a limited number of patients. (Holy basil) acted as a radioprotective agent.
- The Symplocos racemosa Roxb stem bark compounds show effective impacts on cancer.
- In laboratory research, Withania somnifera (ashwagandha) has lowered the development of breast, central nervous system, colon, and Lung Cancer cells. Ashwagandha has also been shown to destroy cancer cells selectively without harming normal cells, to help relieve anxiety, either alone or with other treatments, and to alleviate Pain in the joints. Ashwagandha is also called an adaptogen, a non-toxic drug that normalizes hormonal processes that have been disrupted by prolonged Stress and work by restoring imbalances in neuroendocrine and immune systems.
- Several Tinospora cordifolia preparations (known as heart-leaved moonseed, Guduchi, and giloy) have sensitized cancer cells to chemotherapeutic cytotoxicity, which may have the ability to overcome the drug-resistant phenotype which increases the potency of cancer Chemotherapy.
- A research released in 2008 showed that one-fifth of both American and Indian-made Ayurvedic medicines bought via the Internet contained detectable lead, mercury, or arsenic.
- A 2016 report reported results from all patients with suspected heavy metal toxicity due to natural health goods for six years. Patients were assigned to a German testing group and then evaluated items the patients had used. In the study of 20 natural products, the researchers observed that 82 percent of the products contained lead amounts above the EU dietary supplement cap, and 62 percent reached mercury level levels.
- A 2015 study of an outbreak of lead poisoning in Iowa showed that the goods involved were all purchased directly from India by consumers, and there is no enforcement authority for such goods in the United States.
Legitimate Practice and Recommendations
Ayurvedic practitioners in India undergo instruction in accredited programs or institutions. Ayurveda has been popular in the West, and in India, some practicing and teaching Ayurveda in North America are qualified practitioners. Ayurveda practitioners, however, are not regulated in Canada.
The International Society for Ayurveda and Health (ISAH), a US-based professional Ayurveda society, made these guidelines on usage of Ayurvedic medicine:
- Ayurvedic treatments, like any other treatment program, have contradictions and risk for negative or side effects. This is of special concern because unqualified clinicians often administer medications, which are not used properly, and are exploited by self-prescription by the cancer patients.
- Panchakarma (detoxification) can only be practiced by competent Ayurvedic practitioners who are educated in this subspecialty.
- Cancer patients share the burden of verifying the practitioners’ qualifications, knowledge, and experience.
- Patients must consult with their traditional and Ayurvedic physicians and practice full disclosure about the treatments they use.
- Partner with a physician with a doctoral degree (e.g., MD, Ph.D., or PsyD) and having completed study at a recognized Ayurvedic Medical school.
Similarly, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) cautions that certain Ayurvedic goods and activities can be dangerous if misused or administered without a qualified practitioner’s supervision. We also urge patients to notify all their health care providers about any Ayurvedic goods and activities or other complementary and integrative medicine strategies that are in use.
- The main principles in ayurvedic medicine include inherent interconnectedness, the structure of the body, and the powers of life and biological causes.
- Ayurvedic physicians administer individualized therapies that contain natural products or patented ingredients, and instructions for food, exercise, and other facets of lifestyle.
- There is only a little evidence of the efficacy of Ayurveda against cancer and the effects.
- Some Ayurvedic goods and methods can be dangerous if used improperly or without a qualified practitioner’s guide.
- While Ayurvedic practitioners in the United States are not licensed, the National Ayurvedic Medical Association (NAMA) has established regulatory guidelines that recognize three categories of clinical practices.
- Homeopathy is founded on the idea that like cures like which is a very small dosage of a drug that can treat the condition but can trigger a symptom in a healthy individual.
- The effectiveness of homeopathic treatments in relieving complications from Radiotherapy and Chemotherapy is backed by extremely little evidence.