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J Stem Cells. 2013;8(2):115-29. doi: jsc.2014.8.2.115.

Ayurveda for chemo-radiotherapy induced side effects in cancer patients.

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  • 1Division of Yoga and Life Sciences, Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana University, 19 Eknath Bhavan, Gavipuram Circle, Kempegowda Nagar, Bangalore, India
  • 2Department of Virology and Immunology, Haffkine Institute, Acharya Donde Marg, Parel, Mumbai, India
  • 3Laboratory of Stem Cell Biology, Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies, 3550 General Atomics Court, San Diego, California, USA


Chemotherapy drugs and radiotherapy are highly toxic and both damage adjacent healthy cells. Side effects may be acute (occurring within few weeks after therapy), intermediate or late (occurring months or years after the therapy). Some important side effects of chemotherapy are: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, mucositis, alopecia, constipation etc; whereas radiation therapy though administered locally, can produce systemic side effects such as fatigue, anorexia, nausea, vomiting, alteration in the taste, sleep disturbance, headache, anemia, dry skin, constipation etc. Late complications of these therapies also include pharyngitis, esophagitis, laryngitis, persistent dysphagia, fatigue, hepatotoxicity, infertility and cognitive deficits. These arrays of side effects have a devastating effect on the quality of life of cancer survivors. Due to the inadequacy of most of the radio-protectors and chemo-protectors in controlling the side effects of conventional cancer therapy the complementary and alternative medicines have attracted the view of researchers and medical practitioners more recently. This review aims at providing a comprehensive management protocol of above mentioned chemo-radiotherapy induced side effects based on Ayurveda, which is an ancient system of traditional medicine practiced in Indian peninsula since 5000 BC. When the major side effects of chemo-radiotherapy are looked through an ayurvedic perspective, it appears that they are the manifestations of aggravated pitta dosha, especially under the group of disorders called Raktapitta (haemorrhage) or Raktadushti (vascular inflammation). Based on comprehensive review of ancient vedic literature and modern scientific evidences, ayurveda based interventions are put forth. This manuscript should help clinicians and people suffering from cancer to combat serious chemo-radiotherapy related side effects through simple but effective home-based ayurveda remedies. The remedies described are commonly available and safe. These simple ayurveda based solutions may act as an important adjuvant to chemo-radiotherapy and enhance the quality of life of cancer patients.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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