Cancer is when a person’s abnormal cells divide uncontrollably and destroy the tissues in the body. These cancerous cells than travel through blood or the lymphatic system to other parts of the body to create more damage unlike benign tumours which do not spread. The most common types of cancer are- Breast cancer, Prostate Cancer, Melanoma, Colon cancer, Lung cancer, Leukaemia, Lymphoma etc.
The things or substances that cause genes or DNA mutations are called Mutagens or Carcinogens. Modern medicine uses radiation, surgery, chemotherapy, targeted therapy as well as drugs to combat cancer which are loaded with side effects. Ayurvedic medicines and treatments, when used along with modern techniques can mitigate most of these side effects.
Symptoms of cancer are formation of lump, abnormal bleeding, blood in urine, unusual vaginal bleeding or discharge, prolonged cough, hoarseness, swollen glands, persistent lumps, unexplained weight loss, obvious change in wart or mole, indigestion, difficulty in swallowing, continued itching in anal or genital area, fever etc.
Cancer in Ayurveda:
Ayurveda always adopts a holistic approach to treatment; it not only treats the decease but also takes care of the person’s well being by treating the body, mind and spirit. If we study Charaka and Sushruta Samhitas, cancer is an inflammatory or non-inflammatory swelling which can be seen as (minor neoplasm) or (major neoplasm). Ayurvedic healing revolves around the Dosha balancing in the person’s body. The three Doshas in the body namely vata or the nervous system, pita or the venous system, kapha or the arterial system are the fulcrum around which the well-being of a person can be found. When Doshas get out of control and lose mutual coordination, illness begins.
Stages of Dosha imbalance-
1) Accumulation – One or more Dosha has increased drastically.
2) Aggravation – Imbalance of the Dosha begins
3) Overflow – Spreading and localisation (which means the doshas settle in the weak parts of the body)
4) Manifestation – Symptoms of the disease are noted or become evident.
Ayurveda believes cancer cells are always present in the body only Dosha imbalance brings it to fruition. Another major cause for cancer can be AmaVisha which is indigested food which in turn causes toxins. Therapeutic approach of ayurveda can be seen as
(1) Prakritisthapani Chikitsa or health maintenance
(2) Rasayana Chikitsa or restoration of normal functions
(3) Roganasini Chikitsa or destroying the illness
(4) Naishthiki Chikitsa or Spiritual Cleansing
When modern medicine fails due to inability to limiting the dose toxicity and drug resistance in a person, Ayurveda can step in or around the problem with its plant or herb-based treatment which then adds a step to the curative aspects of the body and add healthy cells. A person is healthy when the 3 doshas and 7 body tissues are in equilibrium. Ayurveda is not a treatment it is a way of life, it concentrates on the illness genesis, growth and spreading and removes the root cause.
Cancer rehabilitation through Ayurveda
The person who is diagnosed with cancer is tested clinically and pathologically to find the severity or stage and the position of the cancer which then leads to a treatment plan of radiation chemotherapy or surgery or a combination of them. These type of treatment abuses a person’s mental and physical strength to the point he may become weak and invalid. Ayurveda the science of plant or herbal remedies can mitigate these side effects to some degree when used alongside these treatments. Ayurveda believes in making the body well and full of life so the approach for the patient is more holistic, compassionate and sensitive. Even after the removal of cancerous cells the person may be weak and disoriented or significant physical impairment or disability may occur. Ayurveda helps in restoring good cells and pouring life energy or Ojus in the patient’s body and bringing him back to mainstream of life faster. There are two main tools to regulate the diet and activities of the person in ayurveda one is dinacharya or daily routine and second is rithucharya or changes made due to changing seasons. Blood cleansing is done to filter out the toxins using herbal medicines alone. Along with a detoxifying diet to purge impurities, the circulating stimulant herbs are given to improve dissemination and good blood circulation, after that the process of tissue rebuilding and restoration starts. Herbs and minerals are prescribed to boost the immunity system of patient. As the saying “where there is a will there is a way”, in cancer cure and rehabilitation the “will” plays an important part. So “will” has to be kept upbeat. Ayurveda uses meditation, counselling, yoga, pranayama and spiritual awakening as tools to strengthen the “will”, along with other modalities like killing toxins through process of panchakarma, tridosha correction, jatha vagni increasing or restoration of digestion etc help in restoring a person.
According to the person more technics are used like:
1)Abhyanga – where the forehead is massaged to improve brain activity. This can be done alongside sirodhara where warm herbal oil is poured on the forehead to synchronise brain activity and calm the body and mind.
2) Stanya Shodhana massage is done mostly for breast cancer patients to improve blood circulation and aiding cell growth.
3) Basti or enema-based treatments are used to clean the colon and improve shodana.
4) Swedana or herbal steam bath to improve overall health may also be conducted.
5)Garshana or dry lymphatic skin brushing is done to get the blood flow in maximum condition, so toxins are removed fast.
6) Panchakarma or five treatments, the combination of which the doctors decide according to the individual needs is very important part of the rehabilitation program. It can be adjusted according to season also.
Duration and cost of Cancer Rehabilitation in Ayurveda:
The duration of the treatment is 21-28 days and is proven to be highly effective in rehabilitating the person to main stream life. The cost of this treatment would range between 2800 to 5300 USD.
Cancer is a never-ending battle. So, the person should take care not to relapse to the old lifestyle and maintain a regular health check-up and routine