Ayurveda has its root in ancient Indian medical science. It is an age-old system of medicine. Word Ayurveda is made of two words ‘Ayur’ meaning life and ‘Veda’ meaning knowledge. There are no scientific evidences supporting the claim that Ayurvedic medicine can treat cancer, but some ayurvedic herbs are being researched for anti cancerous properties.

Ayurvedic therapy treats disease on the basis of three doshas or imbalances including vata dosha (imbalance of air and space), pitta dosha (imbalance of fire and water) and kapha dosha (imbalance of water and earth).

Ayurvedic medicine as a whole system involves different therapies such as yoga, oil massages, relaxation techniques, herbal medicines, special diets, specific Ayurvedic medications, and breathing exercises. Some therapies may involve enemas, use of laxatives and other cleansing and detoxifying techniques.

Use of Ayurveda in Cancer Treatment

Ayurvedic treatment may involve Ras-Rasayan Medicines and Panch-karma. Ras Rasayan involves use of herbal extracts, metal extracts and other medicines to dissolve the cancerous tumor. Panchkarma is a five-step process involving Vaman, Virechan, Vasti, Nasya, and Raktmokshan. These are detoxification techniques. It is always advisable to consult a doctor before using panchkarma as it may harm some patients.

If tumor deteriorates and there is formation of pus cells or necrosis, surgery may also be required along with dissolving the tumor.

Ayurveda is said to be helpful in managing cancer through prophylactic, palliative, curative and supportive treatment. Ayurvedic medicines can be used as a supportive therapy along with chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Some ayurvedic techniques may help in reducing post-surgery stress and depression. Some Ayurvedic medicines also help in reducing side effects of conventional cancer treatment. Ayurvedic treatment aims at increasing energy and well being, restoring balance between mind, body and spirit and decreasing stress.

Some ayurvedic medicines are said to be very useful in treatment of cancer. It has been noticed that Withaferin A stopped the growth of breast cancer in mice. Other herb called Sanjeevani has been found to reduce the development of skin tumors in mice. Indian frankincense has been also reported to slow down the growth of bowel cancers in mice. Early research on pomegranate extracts also show it has anti cancer properties and may be used in treatment of prostate, bowel and liver cancer.

Possible Side Effects

Herbal Ayurvedic medicines are considered safe but the truth is that all herbal medicines are not safe. Yoga, massage and other relaxation techniques used in Ayurvedic treatment are rather safe but some yoga asanas can also cause bone, muscle or nerve damage. Some ayurvedic therapies need removing blood, which can cause low blood cell count resulting in tiredness, breathlessness and other symptoms of weakness. Some of the side effects of ayurvedic treatment may be infections, constipation, bowel inflammation or salt imbalance in the body.

Some Ayurvedic medicines may interfere with conventional treatment of cancer. It is advised to consult the doctor before going for ayurvedic treatment. Some ayurvedic remedies contain heavy metals such as mercury, lead and arsenic. These may be very harmful.