Cancer Care and Ayurveda
What is Cancer ?
Cancer is the second most cause of deaths in the modern world after Cardio vascular Diseases. It’s a disease in which the body’s cells multiply uncontrollably and spread to other parts of the body .Cancer can start any tissue or organ in the human body, which is made up of a large number of cells. Normally, human cells grow and multiply (through cell division) to form new cells as the body needs them. According to classical textbooks of ayurveda like ‘Charaka’ and ‘Sushruta Samhitas’ cancer is described as inflammatory or non-inflammatory swelling and mentioned either as ‘Granthi’ (minor neoplasm) or ‘Arbuda‘ (major neoplasm).
Sometimes the physiological process of cell division undergoes drastic variations and abnormal cells, grow and multiply which is pathological in nature. These cells may form tumors, which are lumps of tissue. Tumors can be cancerous or not cancerous (benign).
Cancerous tumors invade nearby tissues and can travel to distant places in the body to form new tumors (This process is called Metastasis). Many cancers form solid tumors but not in blood cancer(leukemia).
Cause Of Cancer ?
Cancer can be considered as a genetic disease caused by changes to genes that control the way our cells function and cell division which is triggered by autoimmune factors . Genetic changes that cause cancer can happen because of : a)Errors that occur as cells division. b)Damage to DNA caused by harmful substances in the environment, such as the chemicals in tobacco smoke, ultraviolet rays from the sun , hazardous chemical exposure etc c)Genes inherited from parents or family.
Common Types Of Cancers
Types of cancer are usually named for the organs or tissues where the cancers form.The major types of cancer are Carcinoma, Sarcoma, Lymphoma, Myeloma and Leukemia.
Carcinoma is cancer found in body tissue known as epithelial tissue that covers or lines surfaces of organs, glands, or body structures. for example cancer of the lining of the stomach is called a gastric carcinoma . Squamous cell carcinoma is a type of skin cancer. Most common type of cancer world wide is breast carcinoma , happens in women ..Carcinomas account for 80-90% of all cancer cases.
- Sarcoma is a malignant tumor growing from connective tissues, such as cartilage, fat, muscle, tendons, and bones. Examples of sarcoma include osteosarcoma (of bone) and chondrosarcoma (of cartilage).
- Lymphoma refers to a cancer that originates in the nodes or glands of the lymphatic system, whose job it is to produce white blood cells and clean body fluids, or in organs such as the brain and breast. Lymphomas are classified into two categories: Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
- Myeloma grows in the plasma cells of bone marrow. In some cases, the myeloma cells may get collected in one bone or in multiple bones. The myeloma cells collect in many bones, forming many bone tumors. This is called multiple myeloma.
- Leukemia also known as blood cancer, is a cancer of the bone marrow that keeps the marrow from producing normal red and white blood cells and platelets.
Ayurveda and Cancer Care
Ayurveda, the indigenous natural system of medicine, originated in Indian Subcontinent is known for preventing or suppressing various tumors using natural drugs. Nowadays, many research and clinical studies signify the efficacy of Ayurveda In Cancer Care.The Tridoshas called Vata ( Neurological Vital Force) , Pitta (Metabolic Vital Force) and Kapha (Developmental Vital Force) are the three vital functional units in human body. In malignant tumors all three systems (Tridoshas) get disarranged and lose mutual coordination that causes tissue damage, resulting in critical condition.Tridoshas cause excessive metabolic crisis resulting in proliferation. Ayurveda subdivides body tissues into seven categories, that is plasma (Rasa); blood (Rakta); muscle (Mamsa); fat (Medas); bone marrow/ nerve (Majja); nerve tissue (asthi) and reproductive tissue (Shukra). The convertion and transformation of each tissues happens due to a metabolic energy called “Dhatwagni” as per ayurvedic concept .The dearrangement of this Dhatwagni is responsible for abnormal tissue proliferation and spread. Ayurveda treatment in cancer focus in stablisation of these metabolic factors and revitalization of damaged cells.
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 Prakritisthapani chikitsa (Health maintenance), Rasayana chikitsa, (Restoration of normal function), Roganashani chikitsa (Disease Cure) which is very important in treatment approach of cancer. Scientifically ayurveda formulations work on multiple biochemical pathways and influence different organ systems all together and nourish the body as a whole by supporting the body’s defence mechanism.
Herbs and mineral drugs used in ayurveda contain multiple active principles that often operate synergistically producing therapeutic benefits and lowering the risks of adverse effects; and avoids the need for supplemental therapy to manage cancer after ill effects. Now it is important to raise awareness and encourage implementation of an integrated approach combining Modern Medicine and Ayurved in cancer treatment and post care.