Cancer is called the “king of all maladies.” Its diagnosis can create panic, instill fear, and cause mental turmoil to both the sufferer and caregiver. It’s almost as if all hope is lost. To add to the complexity, for a common middle-class Indian, there is also a great economic impact. The best centres for cancer in the world today have a department dedicated to complementary and alternative medicine. In India thus, there is a great opportunity to harness the wealth of Ayurveda knowledge.
Ayurveda physicians who have been practicing this science for centuries have demonstrated the important role of this ancient science and yoga in cancer management.
1. It can help and change a pro-carcinogenic environment to an anti-carcinogenic environment by way of diet and lifestyle, as well as panchakarmas.
2. It uses various herbal formulations for preventive and supportive care for cancer management.
3. It makes use of rasayana – immunomodulatory therapies/ interventions for prevention and cancer management
Despite all the advancements in modern medicine, cancer brings with it many challenges. What can one do for prevention of cancer? Can Ayurvedic medication be taken during standard allopathic treatment? Can Ayurveda help in palliative care? What kind of nutrition should one have? These many such questions are often encountered in clinical practice.
Some of the common symptoms that a patient suffers from are reduced appetite, constipation, diarrhoea, fatigue, and weight loss, lack of sleep, anxiety, and stress!
It is important that you digest the food that you eat. Chronic indigestion can lead to long-term metabolic problems.
1. Food that you eat should be easy to digest ( laghu)
2. Should be a good balance of all the six tastes ( shadrasa)
3. Eat when hungry
4. Avoid eating before the previous meal is digested ( adhyashana)
5. Eat on time, an early dinner is preferred ( kale bhuktam)
6. Shift to organically grown food
* Have cereals such as wheat, barley, red rice, jowar, barnyard millet, and oats. As per the Cancer Council, fibre-rich diets can be beneficial. There is strong evidence that eating whole grains can help to protect against colorectal cancers.
* Pulses such as moong dal, tur dal, channa dal, horse gram offer a ton of health benefits. Vegetables like drumsticks, bitter gourd, snake gourd, ivy gourd, raw banana, knol-knol, radish, turmeric, fenugreek leaves, mustard, garlic, onion, and ginger must be consumed. Allium vegetables (such as onions, garlic) reduce the risk of stomach cancer/bowel cancer.
* Fruits like figs, papaya, jamun, amla, tadgola, bilwa, dates, muskmelon, mango, banana, and other seasonal fruits can be consumed. Citrus intake may significantly reduce the risk of oesophageal, pancreatic, and stomach cancers.
* Milk and milk products like buttermilk, whey, and ghee can be had regularly. Lean meats like country chicken, duck, fish, and eggs must be had moderately.
* Salted fish/meats, processed foods, curd, and sweets prepared from milk are best avoided. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there is “convincing evidence” that processed meat can cause cancer, and are classified as Group 1 carcinogens.
The toxicity in the cellular environment is a reflection of the toxicity of our living environment. Pesticides in food, improper lifestyle, and habits, toxic thoughts 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 and converting it from a pro-carcinogenic environment to a more conducive environment for health allows the natural healing mechanisms of the body to restore functional balance to the physiology of each cell. Various studies have demonstrated that classical panchakarma treatment eliminates detectable toxins in the blood.
Some of the recommended herbs are tulsi, guduchi, aloe vera, ashwagandha, kithara, turmeric, and amalaki.
While Ayurveda herbs, formulations, and therapies can help reduce physiological and physical symptoms, yoga can greatly reduce the intense psychological distress associated with the disease. This approach is a patient-centric approach and the foundation for integrative cancer care.
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