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CONTRIBUTION OF TRADITIONAL MEDICINE

DASHAPUSHPA IN CANCER MANAGEMENT


Dr. Kulkarni Parag Umakant
(P. G. Sch.) Govt. Ayurveda College Tripunithura, Ernakulam, Kerala

Introduction
Painlessly and invisibly, the deadly disease cancer starts somewhere in the
body. Within a short space of time large tumours can grow and organ-destroying
secondary’s form anywhere in the human body. Cancer, a much dreaded disease of
pernicious chronicity, often un-amenable to even prolonged treatment is a
challenging problem to almost all branches of medicine. Cancer is one of the
important problems faced by the humanity all over the world. An integrated approach
is needed to manage cancer using the growing body of knowledge gained through
scientific developments.
Kerala is famous for its medicinal plant wealth and the tradition of indigenous
system of therapy, especially Ayurveda. Dashapushpa constitute a group of ten
potential herbs which are culturally and medicinally significant to the people of
Kerala. These plants are therapeutically very active for various diseases and
ailments. They are traditionally used from time immemorial in Vishachikitsa. Some of
them are scientifically validated for various bioactivities related to anticancer therapy.
Still there are lots of possibilities for potential pharmacological activities from these
herbs, yet to be explored. This presentation would give an insight of these ten sacred
plants and their properties, to comprehend the role of Dashpushpa in cancer
management.

Objective:
An attempt is made in this presentation to draw the attention of Ayurvedic
research institutes and scholars to the Dashpushpa, to comprehend the role of
Dashpushpa in cancer management.

Materials and Methods:


The whole study is based on the literary material viz. Ayurvedic classics,
information from contemporary modern texts, available resources from the internet.
Methodology comprised of a concept about the role of traditionally used medicine,
i.e. Dashapushpa in the management of cancer on the basis of its clinical practice by
some traditional visha chikitsaka.

Cancer – Ayurvedic View


Ayurvedic samhitas did not exposit cancer but acharyas explained some
diseases like Granthi, Arbuda, Apachi etc which represents cancer like symptoms.
Ayurveda describes different stages of tumor genesis as chronic inflammatory and
intractable diseases with the possibility of developing malignancy, precancerous
growth or probable malignancy, granthi (benign glandular swelling), and arbuda
(definite malignancy).
Same diseases are keyed out while explaining the Jamgham visha lakshana. In view
of that, there must be some relation between symptoms of cancer and Visha
lakshana mentioned in classical texts.
Visha and cancer
Cancer the most fatal and rapidly growing disease can be considered as a
visha that is poison.
According to Dorland medical dictionary – poison is the substance which on
ingestion, inhalation, absorption, application or development within the body
produces injury to the body by its chemical action.
Some of carcinogens are poisons & cancer itself put humans to death like a
poison. Cancer can be generally described as an uncontrolled growth and spread of
abnormal cells in the body, so by the above definition we can consider cancer as
poison.
The similarities of cancer symptoms & Visha properties can be
related mutually as follows –
Properties of Cancer
Visha
Laghu Almost all cancer patients show symptoms
Ruksha produced due to Laghu & Ruksha guna.
Aashu Cancer spreads all over body as like Ashu &
Vyavayi Vyavayi properties of Visha.
Tikshna Cancer shows uncontrolled growth of tumours
Ushna
Vikasi Vikasi & Sukshma guna might be responsible for
Sukshma the mutation of genes.
Anirdeshya rasa In early stage of cancer, it is always
unpredictable
Apaki Sometimes cancer stays in body for long time
without producing any symptoms
Pranahara Almost all malignancies are fatal in later stage

In Susruta Kalpastana 2/20 -23 Susrutacharya explained how all above Visha
properties implies to fatal stage of life. Tuning in on this it implies that the same
pathology might be happening in cancer.
For that reason Visha chikithsa can be useful while dealing with the cancer,
especially Dashapushpa the most popular medicine of Visha chikitsa at Kerala.
Dashapusha has been used by traditional vaidyas of Kerala in Visha chikitsa which
shown promising outputs while tackling with different types of cancer.

Dasapushpa
As per the tradition of Kerala, the women wears Dashapushpa garland on the
head. In front of the household shrine, the ten sacred plants of Dashapushpa were
displayed in a gleaming brass plate in the Malayalam month of Karkkidakam (the
monsoon season in Kerala) in the olden days. It was also prescribed by the
Rajavaidyas (doctors for the king) to the ladies to wear these plants on their head,
probably due to the medicinal value imparted by them. Dashapushpam are being
eaten in the form of Karkkadakakanji in the Karkkadakmasam get better health in
upcoming monsoon season.
Dashapusha has been used by traditional vaidyas of Kerala in visha chikitsa
especially in Mushaka visha chikitsa.
The plants which are called as Dashapushpa are listed in the following table 1.
LATIN NAME MALAYALAM SANSKRIT PARTS
NAME NAME USED
1. Aerva lanata Cheroola Bhadra Whole plant
2. Biophytum sensitivum Mukkutty Viparitha lajjalu Whole plant
3. Cardiospermum Valliyuzhinja Indravalli Shoot, leaves
halicacabum
4. Curculiogo orchioides Nilappana Musali Tuber
5. Cynodon dactylon Karuka Durva Leaves
6. Eclipta alba Kayyunyam Bringharajan Shoots, leaves
7. Emilia sonchifolia Muyalcheviyan Akhukarni Shoots, leaves
8. Evolvulus alsinoides Vishnukranthi Hari Krantha Whole plant
9. Ipomea sepiaria Thiruthali Lakshmana Whole plant
10. Vernonia Puvamkurunnel Sahadevi Whole plan
cinerea

Work on Dashapushpa
 Several studies were undertaken on different members of Dashapushpa.
 Anticancer study was carried out on some of the plants included in
Dashapushpa.
 B sensitivum was shown to inhibit metastasis
 Ethanolic extract of whole plant of A. lanata exhibited
immunomodulatory and antitumor activity.
 Lupeol content in A. lanata showed antitumor activity & active
against Walker carcinoma.
 The paste of whole plant of Vernonia cinerea shown good results in
Uterine fibroid.
 Some traditional vaidyas showed evident that the Dashapushpa has been
effective in curing the cancer patients.

Conclusion
Some traditional vaidyas shown, evidently that the Dasapushpa has been
effective in curing cancer patients, but to have more effective and sustainable
results, a great deal of research is required for analysis and standardization of these
ten scared plants, assessment of pharmacological effect and designing the treatment
protocol. Research and development must be encouraged for developing new
pharmaceutical preparations from these plants. The detailed investigation of its
standardization, pharmacological activity, toxicity and clinical trials may help to
develop new formulation for controlling various types of cancers.
The global scenario has shown a great increase in herbal medicine research
as anticancer therapy. Some of the research activities have been carried out on
these plants during the past few decades which give sufficient motivation among the
scientist community in exploring more information about these sacred plants. So
there is an ultimate need to screw out the anticancer property of the Dasapushpa
with the help of allied science.