Nowadays, cancer is becoming more and more common each day with so many new cases. Globally, it accounts for over 19 million patients and so many death tolls along with it. The most common way of treating cancer involves chemotherapy and radiotherapy. These treatments involve the use of harsh and toxic chemicals which are detrimental to both the physical and mental health of the individual. It may lead to severe side effects and complications. In wake of such atrocities caused by therapeutic chemicals, there is a need to find a solution to help ease the problems and pain.
Ayurveda: an ancient way of treatment and healing
Today, it is clear that cancer is related to environmental, dietary, unpredictable, and unstable changes in the daily lives of individuals. Ayurveda means “Science of Life” and is the oldest holistic healing system in the world that originated in the Indian subcontinent. This practice and treatment are probably more than 5000 years old. Ayurveda emphasises that it balances the ongoing connection between body, mind, and soul, and is therefore the natural harmony of each individual. Ayurveda recognizes and characterises many herbs and herbal preparations that are much talked about for the treatment of various forms and diseases of cancer.
Modern science and allergy today believe in Ayurvedic principles, that’s why more and more research is being done on Ayurvedic herbs and natural remedies. Many medical centres and universities are incorporating Ayurveda into their programs to combat the rise of non-communicable diseases. All medical professionals believe that prevention is better than cure. So Ayurveda paves the way for the goal of healthy and happy living.
Ayurvedic definition of cancer
The Ayurvedic interpretation of cancer uses traditional concepts translated into the modern context. This first topic is about swapping between systems. Vaidyas are a little different in detail, but they all use traditional concepts such as Tridosha theory, sapta dhatu (7 body tissues), and Agni (metabolic power) to construct the pathophysiology of cancer. Within the framework of Ayurvedic theory, identifying the cause (responsible factor) is an important step in a patient’s evaluation and treatment.
Ayurveda, in ancient texts of Sushruta and Charaka Samhita, identifies cancer as granthi (benign or minor neoplasm) and arbuda (malignant or major neoplasm). The cause of cancer is the balance of Dosha. Dosha is the system that governs our body and mind, and how they interact with the environment. Vata, Pitta, and Kapa are the three Doshas of our body. Ayurvedic treatment focuses on restoring the lost balance between these Doshas and restoring the very necessary harmony.
Ayurvedic interpretation of side effects
Ayurveda is based on the philosophy of oneness of body, mind, and soul and believes in the concept of three doshas. These doshas regulate our body and any imbalance between these doshas will lead to diseases and illnesses in our body. Three doshas are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.
Looking through the lens of Ayurveda, the major side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy are the result of pitta dosha. To be more clear, it is actually more aggravated pitta dosha. Two types of such doshas are Raktapitta (haemorrhage) and Raktadushti (vascular inflammation). Ayurveda can give effective and simple solutions to combat the side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. These solutions are simple and home-based as well. Just not easily available but totally safe to use.
Ayurveda to combat the side effects
Rasayana, or rejuvenation therapy, is Ayurvedic’s unique contribution that offers multifaceted benefits. Therefore, utilise and harvest Rasayana therapy with Vaya Sthapana (anti-aging), Balya (resilience), Jeevaniya (enhancing vitality), and other properties to properly nourish all dhatus (tissue elements), Much attention has been paid to restoring basic homeostasis.
With the aim of reducing the dangerous side effects of chemotherapy, this study was designed to select the Ayurvedic formulation Lasayana Abareha as an adjuvant for symptomatic chemotherapy. Herbal preparations consist of Emblica officinalis, Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia), Glycyrrhiza glabra, Leptadenia reticulata, Ocimum sanctum, and Pippali. All of these herbs have been extensively studied at the clinical and experimental levels for a variety of rejuvenating properties.
Therefore, all of these medicines have been selected as ingredients in Rasayana Abareha. The goal of Rasayana therapy as an adjunct therapy in this study is not only to add years to life but to add life to what the patient has left for years.
Rasayana avaleha or Chyavanprash is an ancient ayurvedic health supplement used for the general well-being of the body and mind. It has been used in the Indian subcontinent for treating many diseases and also for rejuvenation and well-being. Studies conducted so far suggest that this concoction of ayurvedic herbs can help with the side effects of chemotherapy. It protects the patient from the adverse effects of the harmful chemicals and hence improves their overall quality of life. In a study conducted, the researchers used the formulation given in the Ayurveda to make this herbal mixture. The ingredients used to prepare the Rasayana avaleha were Amalaki (one part), Ashwagandha (one-fourth part), Guduchi (one-fourth part), Yashtimadhu (one-fourth part), Pippali (one-tenth part), Tulasi (one-tenth part), sugar (one part), and ghee (quantity sufficient).
This study found some promising results. There were significant reductions in the side effects like nausea and vomiting (86%), mucositis (72.14%), and fatigue (58.93%). Also, other symptoms like xerostomia (48.17%), alopecia (45.24%), and tastelessness (33.59%) were less. Even the weight loss was lower than the patients who didn’t take this herbal remedy.
Ayurveda can help to relieve the side effects that come along with chemotherapy and radiotherapy due to cancer treatment. Not just treating the side effects but there are many practices to treat cancer in Ayurveda. Also, there are a plethora of herbs in Ayurveda that heal and balance all the doshas. This approach is surely promising for treating cancer in the coming days.