A tumor is an abnormal and often times rapid growth of cells within a given area. When such a cellular mass or growth develops in the brain it is described as a brain tumor. Brain tumor treatment requires aggressive medical attention, with a variety of options like surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and targeted drug therapy. The precise choice of treatment will vary greatly depending on the type of tumor, its size, location, and the patient’s health status and preferences.
Types of Brain Tumors
Although the very mention of tumors sets off alarm bells because of their association with cancer, not all tumors are cancerous. When it comes to brain tumors too, there are various types of brain tumors including gliomas, glioblastomas, meningiomas, and so on. These can be broadly classified into primary or secondary (metastatic) brain tumors. Primary brain tumors are those that begin to develop in the brain itself, while all tumors that develop elsewhere and spread to the brain are classified as secondary.
Brain Tumor Treatment Options
Although conventional treatment is absolutely essential and increasingly effective, most of the treatments available today are fraught with risks. For example, there is a risk of bleeding, infection, and nerve damage during surgery, while radiation and chemotherapy are associated with side effects like nausea, vomiting, fatigue, headaches, and hair loss. Because of the significant impact of such side effects on quality of life, there has been growing demand for natural solutions. Although there is no known natural cure for brain tumors, researchers have been investigating alternative therapies and have identified some natural products and herbs that can be used alongside conventional treatment. These products can help to slow down disease progression or to minimize and prevent side effects from conventional treatment. Ayurvedic herbs are among the most effective of these natural solutions and we’ll take a closer look at a few of the most promising Ayurvedic treatments for brain tumors.
Brain Tumor Treatment with Ayurvedic Herbs
The rising incidence of cancer across the world in recent decades has made it one of the most dreaded conditions that we are all familiar with. While it may not have been as widespread in the ancient world, Ayurvedic physicians were undoubtedly acquainted with various types of cancer, brain tumors included. After all, fossilized human remains from various parts of the world show traces of tumors. Ancient Indian physicians had several theories and recommendations, which would suggest that genetic abnormalities that give rise to cancer develop as a result of dosha imbalances and accumulation of ama in the body. While the theories and rationale behind their recommendations may be unproven, there is growing evidence to support the use of certain herbs.
1. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
Classified as a rasayana or rejuvenative herb in classical Ayurvedic texts, ashwagandha is said to have a revitalizing effect on all the dhatus, raising energy levels and improving overall health. Today, it is most popular as a natural supplement for stress reduction and relaxation, as a natural bodybuilding supplement that supports muscle growth, and as a therapeutic aid to treat various types of sexual dysfunction, especially in men. With more clinical studies and research, there is growing evidence to suggest that many of the mental health benefits can be linked to neuroprotective properties of the herb. In the context of brain tumor treatment, ashwagandha can be particularly helpful as a potential anti-tumorigenic agent. Several studies, including one that appeared in the Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences revealed the presence of cancer fighting properties in both the root and leaves of the plant. Other studies show that ashwagandha has a hepatoprotective effect, which makes it a valuable adjunct therapy that can protect against liver damage, which is a common side effect in conventional brain cancer treatment.
2. Indian White Cedar (Dysoxylum binectariferum Hook. f.)
Also called Bili devdari, the tree is today better known in India as a source of timber. However, it has long been used in Ayurveda for its therapeutic value. Ayurvedic physicians often use it as an ingredient in herbal remedies to treat rheumatism, with some varieties of the tree also being used to produce Ayurvedic medications for heart disease and tumors.
Indian White Cedar
Flavopiridol is in fact a pharmaceutical compound that is derived from the herb. Studies have shown that it has an inhibitory effect on the growth of cancerous cells, stopping cell division, and causing apoptosis or death of cancer cells.
Garlic (Allium sativum)
Widely used as a culinary herb, garlic is notable for its wide-ranging health benefits. It has long been used in Ayurveda to treat a variety of health conditions, from minor infections and skin diseases to heart disease and cancer. Many of these benefits have now been confirmed through scientific research that has identified numerous phytochemicals in garlic, including compounds like Allicin. Japanese researchers found that garlic intake improves natural-killer cell activity, which can improve patient outcomes and success rates. Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition arrived at similar conclusions, with the study authors stating that high intake of both raw and cooked garlic could increase cancer protection.
Kalagaura (Mappia foetida)
Kalagaura or narkya is another Ayurvedic herb that is not very well known outside of the Ayurvedic community. Nevertheless, the herb has attracted considerable interest in the scientific community because of potential antitumor activity. These anticancer or antitumor properties have been linked to Camptothecin, which is a natural alkaloid that is found in the herb. Study findings that appeared in the journal, Clinical Cancer Research suggest that the herbal extract can encourage partial remission and other studies show similar results, including reduced metastases.
Ayurvedic herbs like ashwagandha and kalagaura can help in the fight against cancer, but they are best used as an adjunct or add-on to conventional treatment. In addition to the herbs mentioned above, other herbs like ginger and cannabis can also help to relieve or prevent other chemo and radiotherapy side effects like nausea, vomiting, and appetite loss, which is why they are now commonly used by cancer patients in many parts of the world. Alternative therapies like yoga, acupuncture, and aromatherapy may also play a supporting role, but it’s important that you are clear about the fact that at present there is no known natural cure for cancer. Conventional treatment remains your best bet, while natural remedies can be used to enhance the effectiveness of cancer treatment, while reducing its unpleasant side effects.
- Yadav, B, et al. “In Vitro Anticancer Activity of the Root, Stem and Leaves of Withania Somnifera against Various Human Cancer Cell Lines.” Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, vol. 72, no. 5, 2010, p. 659., doi:10.4103/0250-474x.78543.
- Jadeja, Ravirajsinh N. et al. “Withaferin-A Reduces Acetaminophen-Induced Liver Injury in Mice.” Biochemical pharmacology 97.1 (2015): 122–132. PMC. Web. 30 July 2018.
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- Ishikawa, Hideki, et al. “Aged Garlic Extract Prevents a Decline of NK Cell Number and Activity in Patients with Advanced Cancer.” The Journal of Nutrition, vol. 136, no. 3, Jan. 2006, doi:10.1093/jn/136.3.816s.
- Fleischauer, Aaron T, et al. “Garlic Consumption and Cancer Prevention: Meta-Analyses of Colorectal and Stomach Cancers.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 72, no. 4, Jan. 2000, pp. 1047–1052., doi:10.1093/ajcn/72.4.1047.
- Verschraegen, C. F. “Clinical Evaluation of the Delivery and Safety of Aerosolized Liposomal 9-Nitro-20(S)-Camptothecin in Patients with Advanced Pulmonary Malignancies.” Clinical Cancer Research, vol. 10, no. 7, Jan. 2004, pp. 2319–2326., doi:10.1158/1078-0432.ccr-0929-3.
- Focus Keyword: brain tumor treatment SEO Title: Brain Tumor Treatment: Ayurvedic Herbs To Support Recovery Meta Description: Brain tumors are commonly treated using a variety of conventional methods, which have become increasingly effective. However, radiation, chemotherapy, & cancer drugs cause severe side effects. Ayurvedic herbs can protect against both cancer & these side effects.