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Like all tissues and organs in the human body, the

female breasts are multidimensional in function. Their
most recognized function is as exocrine glands,
producing breast milk for the newborn, a function
common to all mammalian species. Given the
multidimensional functions of the breasts, a discussion
of breast health approaches could be complex.
Therefore, in this article we will limit our discussion to
what women can do from the Ayurvedic perspective to
reduce their chances of developing the most dangerous
of breast diseases: breast cancer.
First let's briefly review some simple breast anatomy.
Mammary glands are basically highly modified and
specialized sebaceous glands which derive from
embryonic ectoderm. The adult breast consists of
glandular tissue, adipose tissue (fat cells), nerves, blood

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vessels and lymphatics. Anatomically it overlies the

pectoralis major muscle and is anchored to the
pectoralis fascia by suspensory ligaments known as
Cooper's ligaments (not shown). The breast contains
about 15 to 25 lobes formed by groups of "milk glands",
or lobules. Each lobule is composed of hollow milk
producing acini (also called alveoli), and feeds into a
milk duct leading to the nipples. The ducts converge
near the areola, the darker area round the nipple, to
form ampullae or milk storage cavities. Around the
areola are small glands known as Montgomery's glands
which secrete an oily substance that protects the nipples
during nursing. Lymph nodes within the breast drain
into the axillary lymph nodes in the armpit-the first
place to which breast cancer will typically metastasize.

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What Is Breast Cancer? The Western View

Cancer is fundamentally a disease of failure of
regulation of tissue growth. In order for a normal cell to
transform into a cancer cell, the genes which regulate
cell growth and differentiation must be altered. A gene
is a specific sequence of DNA at a specific location
within a specific chromosome. Only 5-10% of breast
cancers are inherited; the vast majority is due to
sporadic, acquired mutations.
The affected genes are divided into two broad
categories. Oncogenes are genes which promote cell
growth and reproduction. Tumor suppressor genes are

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genes which inhibit cell division and survival. Malignant

transformation can occur through the formation of
abnormal oncogenes, the inappropriate over-
expression of normal oncogenes, or by the under-
expression or complete arrest of tumor suppressor
genes. Typically, changes in many genes are required
to transform a normal cell into a cancer cell.
Large-scale mutations involve a deletion or gain of a
portion of a chromosome. Gene amplification occurs
when a cell gains many copies (often 20 or more) of a
small chromosomal locus, usually containing one or
more oncogenes and adjacent genetic material.
Translocation occurs when two separate chromosomal
regions become abnormally fused, often at a distinct
location. Disruption of a single gene may also result
from integration of genomic material from a DNA virus
or retrovirus, and resulting in the expression of viral
oncogenes in the affected cell and its descendants, but
this is not the case in breast cancer.
The transformation of normal breast cells into cancer is
akin to a chain reaction caused by initial errors, which
compound into more severe errors, each progressively
allowing the cell to escape the controls that limit normal
tissue growth. This renegade-like scenario causes an
undesirable survival of the fittest, where the natural
forces of evolution become distorted and work against
the body's design and harmonious order. If the rate of
DNA damage exceeds the capacity of the cell to repair
it, the accumulation of errors can overwhelm the cell

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and result in early senescence, apoptosis, or cancer.

Once cancer has begun to develop, it uses the body's
own design to serve its own destructive and invasive
What Is Breast Cancer? The Ayurvedic View
The female breasts are predominantly Kapha organs,
having a fatty nature and producing milk, a Kapha fluid.
Breast cancer is a tridoshic (involving all three doshas)
disorder of breast tissue. Causes are both hereditary
and acquired; the acquired causes being physical,
emotional, spiritual, and environmental. Breast cancer is
ultimately caused by blockage and flow irregularities at
both the gross and imperceptibly subtle levels of
several srotamsi (channel systems).
Dietary and other physical factors can help to cause
breast cancer, or to trigger the disease in one who
already has the hereditary tendency. Breast cancer, like
any malignant or degenerative disease, may be the
result of prolonged wrong diet, wrong lifestyle, or
prajnaparadha (mistake of the intellect). Wrong
regimen leads first to accumulation of doshas, then in
time to acute illnesses. If those illnesses are treated
improperly, that is, if the excess doshas (the three body
humors) are not expelled and ama (toxins) is not
purified, then the imbalance is driven deeper, resulting
in chronic complaints. If these chronic complaints in turn
go untreated or are treated by suppressive methods
without expelling doshas or cleansing ama, then the

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excess doshas will localize in the most toxic or most

vulnerable tissue, in this case breast tissue, to create
sannipatika gulma, a malignant tumor.
Cancer in Äyurveda is not seen as a discrete disease,
but a milestone on the continuum of doshic aggravation,
ama (toxic waste) accumulation, and srotodushti
(channel blockage). A pernicious energy gains access
to the individual through the diet, the emotions, the
environment, or even the karmic-influenced internal
momentum of one's life. Although modern medicine has
disproven any appreciable connection between
fibrocystic breasts or fibroadenoma to breast cancer,
Ayurveda considers both of these benign conditions to
be stages in the breast cancer samprapti. Cancer is a
deepening pattern of internal disconnection from the
body-mind's greater intelligence which eventually
begins to exhibit its own warped purpose, momentum,
and direction.
Importance of Srotamsi (Channels of Circulation) in
Breast Cancer
The entire fifth chapter of the Vimanasthana Section of
the Charaka Samhita is devoted to the detailed
description of the srotamsi and their importance in
health and disease. The body and mind contains a large
number of srotas or channels through which the basic
tissue elements, doshas, and malas circulate. These
channels are called srotas (plural srotamsi). Srotas,
meaning channels or pores, are present throughout the

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visible body as well as at the "invisible" or subtle level

of the cells, molecules, atoms, and subatomic strata. It is
through these channels that nutrients and other
substances are transported in and out of our physiology.
It is also through these channels that information and
intelligence spontaneously flow. When the flow of
appropriate nutrients and energies through these
channels is unimpeded, there is health; when there is
excess, deficiency, or blockage in these channels
disease can take root.
The channels are, to a certain extent, similar to the
different physiological systems of Western medicine
(e.g. arteries, veins, nerves, digestive tract, etc.) but
also contain subtler energies comparable to the
meridian system of Chinese medicine.
The movements of energy in all srotamsi are directly
influenced by stimuli that arise in the mind, which are
conveyed by the Vata energy. Hence mental
disturbances, both conscious and unconscious, can
cause disorders in any of the channels.
Excessive or deficient mental activity can cause excess
or deficient flow in the channels of the body. Emotional
outbursts or lack of mental control have effects that are
analogous to surges in the channels of the physical body
and can produce such conditions as in strokes, heart
attacks, hyperventilation, tremors, etc.
Stanya vaha srota, which consists of the milk-producing
apocrine cells of the lobules, the related pituitary

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hormones (i.e. prolactin), the ducts, ampullae, and

nipple, is the main srota involved in breast cancer.
Artava vaha srotas, which consists of the uterus, ovaries,
fallopian tubes, their hormones (i.e. estrogen,
progesterone), secretions and connective tissues and
related pituitary hormones (i.e. FSH, LH) all belong to
artava vaha srotas--the channels carrying out female
reproductive functions. The breasts are also included in
this system.
Each lunar cycle between menarche and menopause,
the proliferation of epithelial cells lining the breast's
lobular acini (increasing from one to two layers) occurs
during the luteal phase. The breast epithelium, unlike
the endometrium of the uterus, cannot be shed at the
end of the cycle; regression at the end of the cycle is by
apoptosis (self-programmed cell death). The apoptotic
residue (ama) is plentiful within the lumens toward the
late luteal phase of the cycle. Efficient removal of this
material is essential for the breast tissue to remain
healthy and vital.
Samprapti (Pathogenesis)
Due to uncorrected exposure for a sufficient period of
time to nidanas--internal and external causes of doshic
vitiation--(a few common examples described below),
the doshas can become aggravated and begin a
sequence of pathological steps culminating in the
creation of a disease state. The term "samprapti" (from
the root "Ap" to cause, arrive, reach or obtain; "sam"

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conjunction, union, intensity, completeness) refers to

this sequence of doshic-related pathology triggered by
one or more nidanas (causes). Let us consider a brief
explanation of this sequence.
First, one or more doshas begins to accumulate
somewhere in the body and soon becomes vitiated
(aggravated). Next, the aggravated dosha spills over
and begins to spread. In the case of breast cancer, it
may enter the stanya vaha srota or another associated
srota. When it reaches a vulnerable or somewhat
weakened area or organ of the body, it will stagnate
there and begin to mix with and disturb the structure
and function of the local tissues including sometimes
cellular DNA. The tissues of the body, when spoken of in
their healthy state are of course called the dhatus;
however, when we speak of these same tissues with
regard to their mixing with vitiated doshas, we always
refer to the tissues as dushyas.
This dosha-dusyas sammurcchana is the actual disease
process (sammurcchana means "interaction"). The
interaction of the doshas and dushyas, together with the
specific effect from the site or organ involved
(adhisthana) leads to the development first of specific
prodromal features, and then of the main symptoms, of a
disease. Involvement of primarily Kapha might result in
a fibrocystic breast condition; predominantly Kapha-
Vata vitiation might lead eventually to fibroadenoma;
Pitta-Vata can be associated with mastitis and other
inflammatory states; Tridoshic vitiation can ultimately

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produce cancer. Left untreated the disease will evolve

its unique set of complications and can reach a stage
where it is no longer curable by any means.

Ayurvedic Prevention and Treatment Approach

The essence of the Ayurvedic approach is beautifully
summed up in one of its well-known statements, "Avert
the danger from illness before it arrives". This terse
directive emphasizes the importance of correcting
imbalances while still in their earliest stages and hence
very remediable. Ayurveda accomplishes this goal
through health programs uniquely tailored to the
idiosyncratic characteristics of each individual. It
celebrates our individual uniqueness while recognizing
our universal Oneness. It is through our uniquely

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developed human consciousness, which among other

capacities, affords us the enormous power of choice,
that we can influence our health. The positive and
negative health effects of those choices have been
understood by Ayurvedic sages for thousands of years.
It must be stated at the outset of this section that, based
on current level of available Ayurvedic knowledge,
Ayurveda has no place as a primary treatment for any
form of breast cancer. Ayurvedic treatment for breast
cancer are useful as complementary therapy in order
reduce side effects and sometimes bring about a more
comprehensive response to conventional treatment.
Ayurvedic medicines main strength is as a strategy to
prevent the initial disease or its recurrence and to
prolong survival.
That being said, current research is advancing towards
a rational use of Ayurveda as a primary intervention.
Specifically, the methanolic leaf extract of Ashwagandha
leaf (Withania somnifera) was demonstrated to restore
normal p53 function in tumor cells bearing mutated
copies. p53 is a tumor suppressor protein which causes
either the complete destruction of cells which have
irreparably damaged and abnormal DNA or to
temporarily arrest cell replication so that the DNA
repair mechanisms can repair the damage. Once
repaired p53 then allows the cell to duplicate. How p53
chooses cell destruction or arrest is unknown; it is
commonly called the "guardian angel" of the cell.

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It should be noted that today all breast cancer patients

should be under the regular care and supervision of a
medical oncologist.
Practical Choices That Matter
The Ayurvedic approach to breast health centers on
diet, detoxification, lifestyle and exercise, mental
health, environment and herbal preparations.
Additionally, both ancient and current Ayurvedic
physicians also emphasize early detection. Self
examination of breasts, regular breast examinations by
health care professionals and mammograms if clinically
warranted are the methods.
One of Ayurveda's great recognitions is that the body
and mind naturally proceed in the direction of balance
and, in fact, are designed to achieve and maintain
balance and vibrant health. The systems and organs that
make possible this remarkable state of physical and
mental well-being, and the intelligence which directs
them all, exist in all of us from birth. Cancerous changes
show that, despite this inherent healthy tendency, there
is an imbalance of the tri-dosha with toxins. Food is the
foundation of the tissue formation process and health
itself. Here are some of the more important Ayurvedic
i. First and foremost, choose foods according to either
your constitutional type or your primary doshic

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imbalance, if known. This will help match your diet to

your agni (digestive fire). Your physician may
alternatively instruct you to eat according to the seasons
if you are already in a balanced state of health. Eat
organic foods whenever possible.
ii. Construct a diet which reduces ama formation. A
predominantly vegetarian diet of foods that are light,
warm, and cooked will do this. Freshly prepared dals
and soups, organic vegetables prepared with fresh
spices, whole grains such as basmati rice, barley, and
amaranth, and freshly made flat-breads are ideal.
iii. Include organic cooked prunes, figs, apples, pears,
pineapple, papaya, and cooked leafy greens, Brussels
sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage (cruciferous
vegetables) in your diet. These foods provide fiber,
antioxidants, and detoxifying effects.There is also a
burgeoning body of evidence that curcumin, a
component of turmeric, has breast cancer protective
iv. Avoid foods that create body ama, including
leftovers; packaged, canned, and frozen foods; foods
grown with chemicals, GMO's, pesticides and chemical
v. Restrict the intake of alcoholic beverages of all kinds.
vi. Visceral (abdominal) adiposity contributes to the risk
for estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer in
premenopausal women.

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As discussed above, ama-along with agni and the
srotamsi--has tremendous importance in the
manifestation of breast cancer. Ama is principally the
result of the initial ahara rasa (nutrient juices) not being
completely digested in the amashaya (small intestines)
due to abnormal jatharagni. Ama then enters the
srotamsi where it causes srotodushti (pathology of the
srota) leading to srotorodha (obstruction). This results in
an abnormal or arrested flow of doshas, nutrients and
The doshas thus retained can extravasate out of the srota
and penetrate the surrounding dhatus (now called
dushyas). The site where this interaction occurs (dosha-
dushya sammurcchana) is the site where disease is
initiated. If the impairment to the srotas can be
prevented or reversed, disease will be averted.
In Ayurveda breast cancer primarily involves the
channels of the female breasts and of the reproductive
system and are called the Stanya Vaha Srotas and Artava
Vaha Srotas, respectively. They include all the
reproductive tissue, breasts, hormones and all
secretions including breast milk. Keeping these
channels clear of ama and all toxins is essential. The
Mano Vaha Srotas, channels of the mind, are also
involved. Proper diet, lifestyle, exercise, emotional
health and select Ayurvedic herbs all help however a
regular comprehensive detoxification procedure is also

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advised. It forms the foundation of preventive health in

the Ayurvedic view and is often an important part of the
treatment protocol for diseases which have already
Vulnerable Breasts on a Chemical Planet
Besides the assault from endogenous toxins (ama),
exogenous toxins also have a grave effect on breast
health. As a consequence of decades of uncontrolled
environmental pollution with persistent organic
pollutants (POP's), the contamination of human milk has
become widespread. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs),
DDT and its metabolites, dioxins, dibenzofurans,
phthalates, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs),
and heavy metals are among the toxic chemicals most
often found in breast milk. Whether she is pregnant or
not, these and many other chemical pose a tremendous
risk to the female breast. This is because POP's are fat-
soluble "lipophilic" (i.e. affinity for fat) chemicals which
undergo bio-accumulation and concentration over time
in the breast fatty tissue. The positive news is that POP's
can be significantly removed from their sites of
accumulation through regular periods of panchakarma
detoxification therapies.
Ayurveda states in the Ashtanga Hridayam Sutrasthanam
"Exhaustive effort should be made to radically expel the
malas (doshas and metabolic wastes) at the right times.
Uncorrected accumulation will verily result in

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aggravation and cut short life itself." "Doshas which are

subdued by langhana and pachana therapies can
inevitably become re-aggravated, but those which are
radically expelled by samshodhana (purification)
therapies will not become deranged again." (italics
Lifestyle and Exercise: Balancing the Doshas
Scientific evidence suggests about 30% of all 572,000
cancer deaths (39,500 due to breast cancer) expected in
2011 will be related to being obese or overweight,
inadequate physical inactivity or errors in nutrition and
thus are preventable.
It is clear that only about 30-40% of all breast cancer
cases can be traced to identifiable genes or a familial
tendency. Of those, 5 to 10 percent of women have
inherited defective breast cancer genes, the most
common being BRCA1 or BRCA2. The remainder have
forms of breast cancers in their families that involve
several genes.
That leaves 60-70% caused by unknown factors. Some
are environmental--toxins we breathe, drink, touch or
are exposed to in some way. The biggest risk factors are
simply being a woman (<1 percent breast cancers occur
in men) and getting older (risk increases after age 50).
We can't change that, but we can change our lifestyles.
The best recommendations are these six:

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-Avoid hormone replacement therapy -Improve your

diet -Exercise regularly -Follow good detection
strategies -Maintain good body weight -Consume less
or no alcohol
Mental Health
The state of one's mental health is a direct reflection of
how we think, feel and act as we face different life
experiences. Our mental health determines how we
handle emotional stress, relate to others and make
choices. It is the emotional and spiritual resilience (atati
shakti) which enables us to achieve happiness and to
survive pain, sorrow and disappointment. Normal
mental health instinctively creates an underlying belief
in one's self-worth, and in the dignity and worth of other
human beings and all life forms. Psycho-social-spiritual
stress can play a role in breast health. To refresh the
mind Ayurveda suggests the classical mental balancing
and rejuvenation techniques described in Patanjali's
system of Raja Yoga. Because there are eight aspects in
the Raja Yoga path to enlightenment, it is also known as
Ashtanga Yoga (eight-limbed). Patanjali's Yoga Sutras
begins with the statement yoga cittavritti nirodhah (I/2),
"Yoga is for the restraint of the activities of the mind".
They proceed to describe the ways in which mind can
create false ideas and understandings, and details the
eight steps that can taken to escape from the unreal.
Meditation techniques have been shown in numerous
research studies to positively influence the physiology.

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The regular practice of yoga postures (asanas), breath

control techniques (pranayama), and dhyana
(meditation) is the most effective way to relieve anxiety,
depression and emotional stress, according to
Ayurvedic tradition. Although the mechanism by which
meditation helps re-establish mental health is not clear,
we do know that these techniques provide periods of
profound sensory and cognitive rest. The regular
dissociation of the senses from their sense objects and
the withdrawal of the attention within appears to release
deep-rooted stresses that have lodged in the structure,
chemistry and energetic matrix of the mind-body.
Herbal Medicines
Ayurvedic herbal medicine regimens are not conceived
using the model of a specific drug to neutralize or
suppress a specific symptom or disease (allopathic
model). In fact, successful treatment depends on
rational and logical actions of a mixture of plant
substances coupled with the incomprehensible healing
intelligence of Nature. The intention of herbal treatment,
like all forms of Ayurvedic therapies, is to up-regulate
the innate healing capacity of the human being. Herbal
treatment may be categorized according to the
following scheme which forms a sequence for the
prevention of any disease including breast cancer and
also for the treatment of many diseases.
1. Separation of Dosha and Dushya (Sammurcchana

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2. Autodigestion of Ama (Ama pacana)

3. Clearing of the Srotasmi (Shroto Vishodhana)
4. Optimization of Agni (Dipanagni)
5. Strengthening of Immunity (Vyadhi Kshamatva)
Separation of Dosha and Dushya (Sammurcchana
The initial action which must be taken in the treatment of
disease is the separation of the vitiated dosha from the
dushya. Since many on the subsequent steps in treating
disease are strong measures aimed at the doshas, if
separation of the healthy tissue is not achieved first,
these treatments can and will harm the tissues and the
associated srotas and vital organs. The degraded dosha
and the affected tissue or organ becomes joined
together like the milk fats and ghee are joined together
in milk. And just as we heat the milk in order to separate
the ghee from the milk fats, the herbal substances which
accomplish the separation of dosha from dushya (a
process called sammurchana bhanga) have the
following gunas: hot (ushna), sharp (tikshna),
penetrating (sukshma), rapid onset (vyavam), purifying
(punanam), destructive (nashita), and separating
The following herbal and herbomineral medicines have
the action of separating dosha and dushya. This list is by
no means complete. Please note that many of these
medicines can be toxic and cause

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adverse reactions. They should therefore only be given

for short courses and only under expert supervision.
Terminalia arjuna
Trailokya Rasa Chintamani
Datura metal Boswellia serrata
Aconitum ferox Tamra Bhasma
Strychnos nux vomica Heerak Bhasma
Semicarpus anacardium Holarrhena antidysenterica
Abhrak Bhasma Embelia ribes
Autodigestion of Ama (Ama pacana)
The operative principle behind the reversal and
removal of ama is to temporarily stop providing
nutrition to those parts of the body which we wish to
purge of ama. In clinical application, this is achieved
most readily, not with herbal medicines, but rather
through fasting. Fasting is advocated as a bona fide
approach for the removal of ama when found to be
present or to prevent its formation. Like any other
therapy, it is prescribed and supervised by an
experienced physician.
During the fasting period, no new nutritive substances
are available to the digestive system. Therefore the
jathara agni and various dhatvagnis are utilized for the
digestion of the accumulated ama. The fasting period

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can be as short as one or two days, or may extend for up

to two weeks under medical supervision. There are
several herbs and formulations which have been found
to be effective in supporting and augmenting ama
Zingiber officinalis, Terminalia chebula, Tinospora
cordifolia, Terminalia bellerica, Berberis aristata,
Coriandrum sativum, Piper longum, Alpinia galangal.

Clearing of the Srotasmi (Shroto Vishodhana)

Whereas ama pacana is effective in transforming and
liquefying the waste materials in the tissues,
the process known as shroto vishodhana draws these
substances out of the tissues and into the appropriate
channels of elimination (i.e. Stanya Vaha Srota). In
addition, this process initiates movement in the proper

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direction in the srotasmi for the expulsion of the wastes.

This stage requires that no matter what the primary
doshic imbalance may be (Vata, Pitta, or Kapha), the
Vata dosha needs to be in a balanced state. Thus is
because Vata dosha is what creates movement of the
wastes. A balanced Vata dosha moves the wastes in the
proper and natural direction.
Medicines which act on the rasa, rakta, mamsa, meda,
and sukra dhatus and their corresponding srotas are
used in promoting breast health. These medicines will
promote the elimination of doshas from the tissues
without harming the tissues and include:
Holharrhina antidysentrica, Cissampelos pareira,
Tricosanthe dioica, Cyperus rotundus, Picrorrhiza
kurroa, Azadirachta indica, Hemidesmus indicus,
Triphala, Piper nigrum, Acorus calamus, Curcuma
longa, Aegle marmelos.
In addition to these herbal medicines, anuvasana bastis
(oil-based enemata) or often administered during this
phase to promote the proper flow of Vata dosha in the
srotas. Also there are specialized techniques of breast
massage which are performed with specific oils (i.e.
Narayana, Vishagarbha, Chandanbala Laxadi) and can
be taught to patient to perform at home.
Optimization of Agni (Dipanagni)
There is not a single biological process occurring within
our bodies and mind which does not depend on agni.

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Our intelligence, awareness, energy, appearance,

perception, immunity, and life itself is kindled by its
power. There are thirteen forms of agni as we have
outlined earlier. The most important is jathara agni--
which presides over and creates all the others. Any
disturbance in jathara agni will result in incomplete and
improper digestion and the formation of ama. Some of
the herbal medicines which help to stimulate and
balance the jatharagni and, indirectly, all the agnis of
the body are as follows:
 Gingiber officinalis
 Piper longum
 Piper nigrum
 Cayenne pepper
 Plumbago zeylanica
Strengthening of Immunity (Vyadhi Kshamatva)
The capacity to resist disease depends prominently on a
substance known as ojas. Ojas is formed from the best
and purest parts of each of the seven bodily dhatus; it is
said to be the quintessence of human tissue metabolism.
Like bees make honey by gathering the essence of
several species of flowers, ojas is formed from the
saptadhatus. There are certain plant-medicines which
increase ojas and are therefore called jīvanīya gana
aushadhi, medicines which sustain Life. Some of these
Withania somnifera, Curculigo orchiodes, Asparagus
racemosus Phaseolus trilobus Hemidesmus indicus

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Ocimum sanctum Tinospora cordifolia Eclipta alba

Emblica officinalis Shilajitu
Glycerrhiza glabra Terminalia chebula
In addition, medicines like Triphala Guggulu,
Kanchnaar Guggulu, Arogyavardhini, Maha-
manjishthadi kwath, Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia),
Gokshur (Tribulus terrestris) as well as the two most
renowned Ayurvedic compound preparations Triphala
and Chywanprash are used on a long term basis to
prevent recurrence.
Medicines like Medhohar-Guggulu, Chandraprabha-
Vati, and Trivang-Bhasma are also used according to the
presentation of symptoms.
To prevent or reduce side effects from chemotherapy
and radiation therapy, Ashwagandha, Shatavari,
Kamadudha, Shankhbhasma vati, Laghu sutshekhar vati
and Shunthi (Zinziber officinale) can be used.
Patwardhan and Gautum5 summarize the results of
preclinical studies on the cytoprotective potential of W.
somnifera and its constituents. They include reports on
the inhibition of breast and colon cancer cell lines
compared to doxorubicin after the administration of
withaferin A and an increase in the response to radio-
resistant tumors when radiotherapy is combined with
withaferin A treatment, among others studies.
Triphala is an Ayurvedic herbal rasayana formula
consisting of equal parts of three myrobalan fruits:

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Amalaki (Emblica officinalis), Bibhitaki (Terminalia

bellirica), and Haritaki (Terminalia chebula). Rasayana
preparations are adaptogens and can be taken for life
without fear of side effects. Triphala was recently found
to dose-dependently induce apoptosis in human breast
cell cancer lines (MCF-7) and mouse thymic lymphoma
(barcl-95). Treatment did not affect neither normal
human breast epithelial and peripheral blood
mononuclear cells nor mouse liver and spleen cells.
Direct oral feeding of triphala to mice (40 mg/kg for 13
days) resulted in significantly (P < 0.05) reduced tumor
growth and more than three times higher levels of
apoptosis in excised tumor tissue. According to the
researchers, increases in intracellular reactive oxygen
species appeared to be involved with induced
cytotoxicity, supporting the hypothesis that the
antioxidant effect of triphala fruits is at least partly
responsible for this anticancer activity (Sandhya et al.)

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