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Onclolgy in Ayurveda

Onclolgy in Ayurveda

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Published by Yoga FMU

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Published by: Yoga FMU on Aug 30, 2009
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One of the major reasons for redefining ayurvedic practices is the emergence of new diseases, whichare less amenable to conventional standard treatments. We may openly admit that, cancer, as we knowtoday, is not described in classic ayurvedic works such as Brhatrayi. In ancient times cancer had thestatus of an orphan illness. Orphan illness refers to a disease entity which was not taken up for elaboratestudies in terms of its etio-pathology, therapeutics and prognosis. It may be presumed that the neglectwas for want of large patient population. In the case of cancer the situation has thoroughly changed andit is now the major cause of fatality, second only to cardiac ailments. It is no more considered as anorphan illness as in the past. Naturally ayurveda too has to develop an oncology – both theoretical andapplied.No one can honestly claim to know the cure for cancer. Many of the questions related to etiopathologyof cancer remain unanswered.The therapeutic choices offered to a cancer patient are rather grim. The treatment strategies of cancerare mainly three. - Cut it out (surgery), Burn it out (radiation) and Destroy it (chemotherapy).There is a strong anti-surgery feeling among patients. Cancer patients want to move away from radiationand chemotherapy fearing of physical disfigurations that may result from the therapies. To many, traumaof the treatment is worse than that of the disease. They are therefore, put in a climate of opinion ruled byfear and uncertainty. As a safer option they turn to other systems of medicine. Unfortunately, we havenot so far succeeded in developing an effective ayurvedic methodology to deal with cancer cases.Because of this reason the patients often face agonizing dilemma. In this situation we are bound to takestock of the situation and improve ourselves to come up to the expectations of the ailing fraternity. We just can’t afford to wait to treat cancer patients until we evolve a definite system in oncology.
Case Studies
Keeping this in view, our institution has started an exclusive clinic for cancer patients, where primarilywe act as service providers. Meanwhile, we are trying to document the case histories of cancer patientsin a systematic manner so that the data generated thereof can be retrieved for further studies. Our 6years old cancer clinic now has documented clinical case histories of about 2000 cancer patientsbelonging to different categories. The primary analysis of the clinical patient population reveals that fourgroups of patients are seeking ayurvedic treatment.There are patients who want to try ayurvedic treatment along with conventional anti-cancer treatments.They hope that combined therapy will be helpful to nullify the side effects of radiation and chemotherapy.They also hope that ayurvedic therapy would help prevent recurrence in a safer way. Terminally cancerpatients take recourse to ayurvedic treatment for supportive and palliative care. A third group of patientsare those who decide to try ayurvedic treatment on a regular basis for total and permanent cure thoughthey are temporarily released from the clutches of cancer with the help of surgery, radiation orchemotherapy. There is yet another group of patients on whom we are concentrating just because theyare fully dependent on ayurvedic treatment. Admittedly, this category of patients constitute only a minorpercentage of the patient population. Their decision to opt exclusively for ayurvedic treatment is essentially
2based on their understanding of limitations and risk of other treatment options. Our commitment towardsthis group of patients is relatively more because of the faith they have deposited in ayurveda.As of now we do not have statistically significant number of cancer cases, to establish the efficacy of ayurvedic treatment. But there are medical case histories of cancer patients suggestive of the scope andrelevance of ayurvedic treatment for management of malignant disorders. The guidelines for researchmethodologies designed by WHO include a specific clause which is very pertinent in this context. Itsays single case studies for evaluation of efficacy of herbal medicine should not be ignored because of its potential contribution to traditional medicine.I vividly remember the case of a patient who had adenocarcinoma of stomach. His brother who wasundergoing treatment in our hospital had a discussion with us about the possibilities of ayurvedic treatmentfor stomach cancer in which the western system had nothing much to offer in terms of a medicaltreatment. Based on the reports made available to us we suggested a course of treatment to be tried athis residence. In fact we did not get an occasion to see the patient personally even once before chalkingout the treatment profile. The medicines included Nimbamrithadi Panchathiktham Kashayam, SahadevyadiLeham and a few adjuvants. We too were not very hopeful in the initial stages of treatment. To oursurprise we were getting reports from the patient indicating the progress that he was making towardsrecovery. He made his own arrangement to continue the treatment at Gulf collecting medicines fromKottakkal. He continued the medication without any interruption for a period of more than five years.To him at least ayurveda has a cure for Cancer. Similarly I would now like to refer to another example.In this case the patient is a fifty year-old Keralite lady who was diagnosed as Ca. Lung. She approachedus for medical advice forwarding her full medical case history. In addition to NimbamrithadiPanchathiktham Kashayam, Sahadevyadi Leham, we prescribed Parthadyarishtam andAgasthyarsayanam in view of the specific site of cancerous lesion. One cannot expect a tangibleimprovement in lung cancer cases. But this lady improved rapidly and she attained a near normalcondition. The improvement was not merely symptomatic. Radiological examination revealed theremarkable changes suggestive of the regression of the disease. (I have with me the X-ray films of thispatient).I may now refer to the treatment of one more case. It is about a sixteen year-old patient, diagnosed asAcute Myloid Leukemia M-1. The diagnosis was done at Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences,Hyderabad. The presenting symptoms were abdomen pain, low grade fever, dry cough, and generalizedbody ache. On examination there was detectable splenomegaly. Patient was advised to try NimbamrithadiPanchathiktham Kashayam, Chandraprabha vatika, Ayolipta thippali, Rasasindooram and combinationof Nityakalyani extract, Thippali choornam, Rajathabhasmam and Thalakabhasmam. Patient continuedthe treatment on a regular basis and intimated the progress at regular intervals. She was registeringimprovement gradually. Case was personally reviewed after three months. Patient was totally free fromall symptoms recorded initially and there was no splenomegaly. Her blood picture showed tremendousimprovement in every aspect. The patient has now resumed her studies as if she has totally recoveredfrom the ailment. She has been advised to continue the medication and send us the reports without failat regular intervals.These instances cannot be set aside as odd events or miracles. Any way the time is not ripe to make tallclaims about the curative effects of Ayurvedic treatment in cancer cases. I am sure many of you mighthave come across similar incidences. My request is that all of you should as far as possible try topreserve your findings for the future because ‘miracles are also extensions of normal capabilities’.
3Collaborative research activities also bring forth valuable data. I may now refer to a few of such activitiesundertaken by our institution joining hands with Calicut Medical College. Here the attempt was directedto provide terminally ill cancer patients with supportive palliative care. Primarily it was decided to splitthe goals and aim at achievable bits. To cite an example, Opioid induced constipation is a big menaceto the cancer patients who are receiving morphine therapy for pain relief. They cannot do away withopioid preparation because no therapeutically equivalent drug is available to replace it. The standardtreatment adopted to relieve constipation has many inadequacies. It was why doctors were willing totry some herbal preparation. A team of doctors studied the efficacy of well known ayurvedic preparationMisrakasneham to relieve constipation. The study brought out highly encouraging results including betteracceptance by patients. I am happy to say here that an international journal on pain managementpublished an article about this study. Similarly Viswamritham was tried for anorexia, Sathadhouta grithamfor oral mucositis. For various reasons the study could not yield statistically significant data but wecould prove that it is well worth considering ayurvedic medicaments in the treatment profile of cancer.
Theoretical Oncology
I would now like to touch upon a few hints that could be considered while developing an Ayurvedictheoretical oncology. What should be the starting point? We should have a clear-cut understandingabout contemporary knowledge on cancer. We may look at this information from an ayurvedic perspectiveto form an ayurvedic oncology with theoretical soundness. I have tried to pick up a few points fromclassical ayurvedic works which have relevance in forming an ayurvedic oncology. The booklet amongyou contains a brief account of this information. Kindly subject it for a critical analysisSystematic function of any biological entity requires three fundamental regulatory processes - input/ output (transport), transformation and storage. In other words, we may say -
 SɱÉxÉÆ, {ÉÉEÆ ò
concept of ayurveda also has a sound basis of this
theory.To obtain a fair idea about the basic structural and functional concepts of human body we may look intothe derivations of a few words commonly used to denote the human body in Ayurvedic classics.1)
 ¶ÉÒªÉÇ iÉä +xÉäxÉ <ÊiÉ ¶É®úÒ®ú¨É 
 Ênù½Â  þ ´ÉvÉÇ xÉä ù½þ:
 SÉÒªÉiÉä +zÉÉÊnùʦÉ: EòɪÉ:
As far as our knowledge goes, cell is the basic structural unit of the human body. It may be rationallypresumed that there was some knowledge of the cell boundary and molecular traffic between the extracellular and intracellular fluids even before the advent of electron microscope. Human body is composedof between 50-100 trillion cells. Charaka says -
 ¶É®úÒ®úɴɪɴÉɺiÉÖ {É®ú¨ÉÉhÉÖ ¦Éä näùxÉÉ{ÉÊ®úºÉÆJªÉäªÉÉ ¦É´ÉÊxiÉ +ÊiɤɽÖþþi´ÉÉnùÊiɺÉÉèI¨ªÉÉnùiÉÒÎxpùªÉi´ÉÉSSÉ *
It essentially means that the basic body components are structurally atomic, innumerable and microscopic.VataPittaKapthaCommunicationDigestionConnecting structuresTransportTransformationCohesionMovementMetabolismLubrication
Table IPhysiological functions assigned to Tridosha

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