Cancer refers to any one of a large number of diseases characterized by the development of abnormal cells that divide uncontrollably and have the ability to infiltrate and destroy normal body tissue. Some types of cancer cause rapid cell growth, while others cause cells to grow and divide at a slower rate. Cancer, one of the deadliest challenges spreading drastically in 21st century, has now officially become the most dangerous killer in the world according to the World Health Organization. Who can deny the fact that cancer is related to adversary of modernization and advanced pattern of irregular and stressed life dominated by Western medicine. In 2012, WHO released new statistic on cancer incidence, mortality and prevalence worldwide i.e., GLOBOCAN 2012 estimates for 28 types of cancer in 184 countries in which there is more prevalence of cervix and breast cancer. According to survey 8.2 million cancer deaths and 14.1 million new cases per year by 2025. More than half of the new cases of deaths occurred in less developed regions of the world.
Ayurveda, the oldest Indian indigenous medicine system of plant drugs is known from very early times for preventing or suppressing various tumors using these natural drugs. And nowadays scientists are keener to researches on complementary and alternative medicine for the management of cancer. In Ayurvedic concept, according to ‘Charaka’ and ‘Sushruta Samhitas’ cancer is described as inflammatory or non-inflammatory swelling and mentioned either as ‘Granthi’ (minor neoplasm) or ‘Arbuda ‘(major neoplasm). The nervous system (Vata or air), the venous system (Pitta or fire) and the arterial system (Kapha or water) are three basics of Ayurveda and are very important for normal body function. In malignant tumors all three systems get out of control (Tridoshas) and lose mutual coordination that causes tissue damage, resulting in critical condition. Tridoshas cause excessive metabolic crisis resulting in proliferation. Cancer cells rapidly reproduce despite restriction of space, nutrients shared by other cells, or signals sent from the body to stop reproduction. Leukemia is a cancer of the blood or bone marrow (which produces blood cells). Ayurveda has also mentioned the etiological factors, pathogenesis of Arbuda including rakta arbuda. Leukaemia is divided into two main groups, one is ALL (Acute Lymphocytic Leukaemia) & second is CLL (Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia). ALL progress rapidly which results in the accumulation of immature, useless cells in the marrow and blood and CLL progresses more slowly and allows more mature, useful cells to be made.
The aetiology of Leukaemia is not known in most patients. However, a number of factors have been implicated like Genetic factors, Environment factors, Infections & bad habits like smoking, tobacco abuse,
The main goal of Ayurvedic therapy is to find the ultimate cause of an illness while the therapeutic approach of Ayurveda is divided into four categories as Prakriti sthapani Chikitsa (health maintenance), Rasayana Chikitsa, (restoration of normal function), Roga-nashani Chikitsa (disease cure) and Naishthiki Chikitsa (spiritual approach). The management and prevention including pathya –apathya of arbuda also found in Ayurveda. Commonly used herbal decoctions reported in Ayurveda are made of multiple herbs possessing great potential for a cancer cure; scientifically these formulations work on multiple biochemical pathways and influence different organ systems all together and nourish the body as a whole by supporting body ‘s defense systems.
Herbs help in total healing, reduces the side effects and cancer-associated complications. Kalmegh (Andrographis paniculata), Ramphal (Annona atemoya), Bhui Amla (Phyllanthus niruri), Piparamula (Piper longum), Ban kakri (Podophyllum hexandrum), Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia), Bhilawa (Semecarpus anacardium), Munkka (Vitis vinifera), Danti (Baliospermum montanum), Mahua (Madhuca indica), Keora (Pandanus odoratissimum), Kanak (Pterospermum acerifolium), Muli (Raphanus sativus), Peela Bansa (Barleria prionitis), Chhokara (Prosopis cineraria), Zamikanda (Amorphophallus campanulatus), Syonaka (Oroxylum indicum), Poi (Basella rubra), Bilangra (Flacourtia ramontchi), Shajoma (Moringa oleifera), Bargad (Ficus benghalensis), Haldi (Curcuma domestica), Lahasun (Allium sativum), Aak (Calotropis gigantean), Dhatura (Datura metel), Talmakhana (Hygrophila spinosa), Cedar (Juniperus indica), Mungna (Moringa oleifera), Kalaunji (Nigella sativa), Kutki (Picrorhiza kurroa), Manjitha (Rubia cordifolia), etc. are various plants having scientific evidence of anticancer property. Nowadays, many herbs are under clinical studies and being investigated phytochemically to understand their anticancer potential. More than 25% of drugs used during the last 20 years are directly derived from plants, while the other 25% are chemically altered natural products. Nine plant-derived compounds including vinblastine, vincristine, etoposide, teniposide, taxol, navelbine, taxotere, topotecan and irinotecan have been approved for use as anticancer drugs. 10-hydroxycamptothecin, monocrotaline, d-tetrandrine, lycobetaine, indirubin, colchicinamide, curcumol, curdione, gossypol and homoharringtonine are few more plant-derived compounds with high hopes.
Bhang is an edible mixture made from the buds, leaves, and flowers of the female cannabis, or marijuana, plant, originated in Central Asia but is grown worldwide today. The Cannabis plant produces a resin containing psychoactive compounds called cannabinoids, in addition to other compounds found in plants, such as terpenes and flavonoids. The potential benefits of medicinal Cannabis for people living with cancer include antiemetic effects, appetite stimulation, pain relief, and improved sleep. There are several different types of cannabinoids in bhang, but the two best-researched are:
- Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The main psychoactive compound in cannabis, which is responsible for the “high” people experience after consuming foods and beverages containing bhang.
- Cannabidiol (CBD). A non-psychoactive cannabinoid thought to be the main compound behind the health benefits linked to bhang.
- Both CBD and THC have a molecular structure similar to compounds your body naturally produces — known as endocannabinoids.
- Endocannabinoids bind to your body’s cannabinoid receptors and are involved in activities like learning, memory, decision making, immunity, and motor function
Certain poly-herbal and herbo mineral compound has found in the text of Ayurveda, which has been indicated for Arbuda along with other disease like Rodhr Ras, Vradhdaru Churan, Vradhdaru Yoga, Kamdudha Ras, Kanchnaar Guggulu, Trinakantamani (Kaharva) pishti, Navjeevan Rasa, Amritaprasham, Ashwagandha Rasayana, Brahma Rasayana, Chyavanprasha, Narasimha Rasayana, and Triphala Churna were found to be radio-protective in cancer treatment
Pathya in Arbudha: Advises drumsticks (Moringa oleifera), old rice (Oryzasativa), green gram (Phasleousaureus), patol (Tricosanthesdioica), bitter-gourd (Momordica muricata), pungent and non- greasy foods.
Apathya in Arbudha: Avoid taking milk, all types of meat preparation sugarcane and its products, sour, sweets, and hard to digest food and abisyanda causing foods.
Panchakarma in Cancer Management: Panchakarma is a complete detoxification program that utilizes food, herbs, oils, simulative therapies to eliminate morbid or toxic matter from the elimination channels of the body, followed by rejuvenating therapies that restore balance and health. The toxic burden of cellular environment is a reflection of the toxicity of our living environment, toxic components of our food, lifestyle, and our thoughts. These toxicities add up to generate abnormal cellular activity that may be expressed in the form of physiological imbalance, inflammation, and ultimately cancer. Cleansing the cellular micro-environment allows the natural healing mechanisms of the body to restore functional balance to the physiology of each cell. Aim of Panchakarma treatment is to cleanse & detoxify body, increase immunity & thus to restore health. In many Cancer patients, it helps to reduce sufferings, minimize side-effects of Chemotherapy & Radiotherapy. It also helps to prevent recurrence of Cancer. All disease occurs due to suppression and forceful expulsion of natural urges.
The most ancient wisdom and science of life, Ayurveda, has a long history and its basic principles are valid even today. Less or minimal effectiveness and severe toxic side effects of current cancer therapies draw the global attention towards herbal medicine to arrest the insidious nature of this disease. In addition, more than 80% of the world’s population cannot afford modern medicines. Western medicine provides symptomatic treatment and largely ignores the underlying conditions, whereas Ayurveda treats the disease from root of origin. Ayurveda plays an important complementary role to western medicine in treatment efficiency. In addition, most of the lowest economic strata can benefit by choosing Ayurveda instead of western medicine as Ayurveda provides cost-effective treatments. Principally, the long-term wellbeing is important for vulnerable communities, who rely on healthy bodies for a steady income, which can be achieved by opting Ayurveda treatment. Ayurvedic supplements protect healthy cells, regulate body metabolism and treats the disease, e.g., halts cancer progression or acceleration. The collaboration between traditional medicinal systems such as Ayurveda and contemporary western biomedicine would be more advantageous for treating complex disease such as cancer in a more efficient manner. A noteworthy point is that many Ayurveda concepts have not yet been sufficiently scientifically validated. Hence, collaborations between these two medicinal systems would be mutually beneficial.