Advanced cancer is a stage when the cancer growth has progressed to a level which has been deemed as incurable. The focus in this situation is more on the symptoms. Cancer in different sites in the body may have predominantly differing symptoms. However, pain, easy fatigue, loss of weight and appetite, vomiting, weakness, breathlessness and constipation are common symptoms in most advanced tumors. Treatment is usually palliative, i.e. to reduce symptoms and to possibly control further spread of the tumor.
Ayurvedic medicines have the potential for a substantial contribution in the management of both early and advanced cancer. Ayurvedic treatment can control the cancerous growth, reduce its size, prevent its spread to different parts of the body, reduce pain and other symptoms, improve survival and improve the overall quality of life of the patient. The Ayurvedic management of cancer consists of treating the specific tumor, giving medicines to treat the tissues involved and also giving symptomatic treatment for different symptoms as and when these arise. Medicines like Triphala-Guggulu, Punarnavadi-Guggulu, Panch-Tikta-Ghrut-Guggulu, Kanchnaar-Guggulu, Tamra-Bhasma, Trivang-Bhasma, Punarnavadi-Qadha, Sutshekhar-Ras, Kamdudha-Ras and Praval-Panchamrut-Ras are used to reduce tumor size and growth. Medicines like Maha-Manjishthadi-Qadha, Saarivasav, Drakshasav and Punarnavadi-Qadha are used to prevent the spread of the tumor through the blood and lymphatic system.
Medicines like Suvarna-Malini-Vasant, Suvarna-Parpati, Suvarna-Bhasma, Abhrak-Bhasma, Vaikrant-Bhasma, Raupya-Bhasma, Mukta-Bhasma and Heerak-Bhasma are used to boost the immune system of the body and maximize its potential in fighting the tumor. Herbal medicines which can also be used for this purpose include Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus), Bala (Sida cordifolia), Naagbala (Grewia hirsuta), Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum), Mandukparni (Centella asiatica), Chitrak (Plumbago zeylanica), Pippali (Piper longum) and Triphala (Three fruits).
As per the traditional principles of Ayurvedic treatment, medicines which act on the seven body tissues (dhatus) as well as those medicines which have a specific action on different organs of the body are very useful in treating different types of cancer. These medicines include Pippali, Arjun (Terminalia Arjuna), Kutki (Picrorrhiza kurroa), Kalmegh (Andrographis paniculata), Bhumiamalaki (Phyllanthus niruri), Punarnava (Boerhaavia diffusa), Gokshur (Tribulus terrestris), Patol (Tricosanthe dioica), Patha (Cissampelos pareira), Nimba (Azadirachta indica), Kutaj (Holarrhina antidysentrica), Chirayta (Swertia chirata), Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia), Chandan (Santalum album), Musta (Cyperus rotundus) and Amalaki (Emblica officinalis). While these medicines have a specific action of their own, they also carry anti-cancer medicines to the target organ or tissue.
Symptomatic treatment is given with different medicines in such a way that they do not interfere with the main anti-cancer therapy. Pain can be controlled using medicines like Vish-Tinduk-Vati, Agni-Tundi-Vati, Maha-Vat-Vidhwans-Ras, Vat-Gajankush-Ras, Godanti-Bhasma, Nirgundi (Vitex negundo), Sameer-Pannag-Ras, Suvarna-Sameer-Pannag-Ras, Triphala-Guggulu and Maha-Rasnadi-Guggulu. Easy fatigue, weakness and loss of weight can be treated using medicines like Ashwagandharishta, Draksharishta, Ashwagandhadi-Churna, Suvarna-Malini-Vasant, Suvarna-Bhasma, Vasant-Kusumakar-Ras and Siddha-Makar-Dhwaj-Ras. Loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting can be treated using medicines like Laghu-Sutshekhar-Ras, Shankh-Vati, Chitrakadi-Vati and Lashunadi-Vati. Breathlessness can be treated using medicines like Kantakari (Solanum xanthocarpum), Bruhat-Kantakari (Solanum indicum), Som (Ephedra vulgaris), Kushtha (Saussurea lappa) and Pushkarmool (Inula racemosa). Constipation can be treated using medicines like Triphala, Isabgol (Plantago ovata), Avipattikar-Churna, Gandharva-Haritaki and Swadishta-Virechan-Churna.
A judicious combination of Ayurvedic medicines can thus help to control and reduce tumors and improve the survival and quality of life in patients with both early and advanced cancer.