Ayurveda and Chemotherapy
Dr. Rahul Mhaskar
University of South Florida
Dr. Girish Tillu
Interdisciplinary School of Health Sciences (ISHS)
The treatment of cancer relies heavily on chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation. Patients must overcome a lot of suffering related to the toxins that have been introduced into their body during specific treatments. Many patients are unable to tolerate food due to symptoms like nausea and vomiting, continuing to become weaker as a result. If the implementation of the Ayurvedic approach is seen to show improvements in overall quality of life, it may not only assist cancer patients in tolerating the strenuous treatment but also potentially improve overall survival in the long run.
The Ayurvedic approach focuses on the holistic perspective of the patient and targets overall wellness. Ayurveda, as the practice is also known as, emphasizes the importance of proper digestion. In coordination with cancer treatment, it focuses on the eradication of toxins and the improvement of tissue metabolism. Ayurvedic medicine has proven useful in other fields of medicine such as osteoarthritis and Type 2 diabetes. One study has shown that a daily intake of an Ayurvedic supplement has had immense effects on reducing hyperglycemic levels in individuals. Furthermore, the lipid profiles in these individuals also showed improvement. These results were observed with no adverse effects on patients.
In cancer therapy, plant-based substances such as ginger and honey have shown significant reductions in chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Additionally, Ayurvedic supplements were shown to have increased levels of CD3, CD19, and CD16 immune-fighting cells when compared to individuals who did not receive such supplements. In a systematic review, patients given Ayurvedic supplements had more efficient kidney function, reducing the likelihood of developing acute kidney injury from the toxic chemotherapeutic agents. Overall, treatment with Ayurvedic drugs has shown significant decreases in toxic side effects experienced by chemotherapy drugs. However, even with all of this evidence, Ayurvedic medicine has been explored minimally, especially when compared to other forms of alternative medicine such as traditional Chinese medicine.
In collaboration and guidance of Dr.Mhaskar, the team at ISHS has undertaken a systematic review and meta-analysis to determine the role of the addition of Ayurvedic medicines in the management of chemotherapy-induced symptoms. Specifically, this systematic review will address the following research question: What are the benefits and risks of using Ayurvedic medicine as an adjuvant to chemotherapy compared to using chemotherapy alone among patients with cancer? This systematic review will synthesize evidence on this topic and serve as a vital tool for the future management of cancer patients.