Cancer is one of the most dreaded diseases of the 20th century and spreading further with continuance and increasing incidence in 21st century.
Recently, a greater emphasis has been given towards the researches on complementary and alternative medicine that deals with cancer management. Several studies have been conducted on herbs under a multitude of ethno botanical grounds. For example, Hartwell has collected data on about 3000 plants, those of which possess anticancer properties and subsequently been used as potent anticancer drugs.
Ayurvedic Approach and Treatment of Cancer
Ayurveda, a traditional Indian medicine of plant drugs has been successful from very early times in using these natural drugs and preventing or suppressing various tumours using various lines of treatment.
Sodhana chikitsa (purification process), which eliminates vitiated doshas, have been primarily used for medical management of cancer. When both internal and external medications were given then it is called as panchakarma
The other type of curative therapy is called Somana chikitsa, which pacifies dosha and gradually relieves the disease. However, this treatment is prescribed only to weaker patients for whom sodana chikitsa is contraindicated.
In Rasayana prayoga (immunotherapy), certain poisonous plants, mercury like metals and animal products were rendered non-toxic and harmless by the use of alchemy and are used as rejuvenating drugs.
Other methods of treatment include, dhatwagni chikitsa (correction of metabolic defects), vyadhipratyanika chikitsa (specific anti-cancerous drugs) and lakshanika chikitsa (symptomatic treatment).
Herbs That Are Helpful in Treating Cancer
Any practical solution in combating this dreadful disease is of paramount importance. Many herbs have been evaluated in clinical studies to understand their tumouricidal actions against various cancers. Thus, cancer patients who already got crippled with this disease, further burdened by drug-induced toxic side effects have now turned to seek help from the complementary and alternative medicine hoping for a better cure.
Vitis vinifera (common grape vine)
The mixture of Terminalia chebula, grape juice and sugar cane juice has been used. Resveratrol, a natural product derivative from grape juice has been proved to possess cancer chemopreventive activity.
Baliospermum montanum (Hastidanti)
Commonly known as red physic nut, wild castor, wild croton and wild sultan seed. The paste comprising of Baliospermum montanum, Plumbago zeylanica, Euphorbia neriifolia, Calotropis procera, jaggery, Semecarpus anacardium applied over the tumours.
Madhuca Indica (Mahua)
This paste is prepared from the barks of Madhuca indica, Syzygium cumini, Terminalia arjuna and Salix caprea and prescribed for local application.
Pandanus odoratissimus (Kewada, Pandan, Screw palm or Screw pine)
A paste of Pandanus odoratissimus with sugar is applied externally. The aqueous extract of this herb possesses very high levels of anticancer, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antidiabetic activities.
Pterospermum acerifolium (karnikara tree, Kanak Champa, Bayur Tree)
The flowers of Pterospermum acerifolium mixed with sugar to be applied locally.
Raphanus sativus (Cultivated Radish)
Local application of Raphanus sativus powder paste with the radish ash is considered effective against kaphaja arbuda.
Barleria prionitis (Kuranta, Vjradanti, Porcupine Flower)
The Barleria prionitis oil prepared with whole plant is indicated for external application during acute stages of cyst in blood vessels.
Prosopis cineraria (Shami Tree, Bani Tree)
This paste made up of Prosopis cineraria seeds, Raphanus sativa, Moringa oleifera, barley and mustard with sour buttermilk is applied locally for disintegrating cysts.
Amorphophallus Campanulatus (Elephant-foot Yam)
The mature tuber is first burnt and then mixed with butter and jaggery and applied for tumour destruction.
Oroxylum Indicum (Shyonak, Sona Patha)
The drug Oroxylum indicum prescribed in treatment of granthi.
Basella rubra (Red Stem)
The plant and leaves are ground with sour buttermilk with salt for preparing a poultice and indicated for arbuda.
The paste of Flacourtia romantchi, Cassia fistula, Capparis sepiaria, is recommended for kaphaja tumours.
Moringa Oleifera (Drumstick Tree)
The paste of Moringa oleifera seeds, Solanum xanthocarpum, Sinapis dichotoma, Holarrhena antidysenterica and Nerium odorum roots prepared with buttermilk is used for arbuda tumours.
Ficus Benghalensis (Banyan Tree)
Application of mixture of Ficus benghalensis and Saussurea lappa pacify tumour growth on bone.
Curcuma domestica (Turmeric)
The Curcuma domestica powder in combination with Symplocos racemosa, Soymida febrifuga, is mixed with honey and is used as an external remedy.
Note: Please research the above mentioned herbs further for indications and side effects and consult with your doctor before deciding on the ayurvedic approach for treatment.