Herbal extracts may be included as part of cancer treatment

A recent study has shown that few herbal extracts, when combined with chemotherapy, can reduce the side-effects of cancer treatment.

A preliminary study, conducted in Chennai, India, revealed that a combination of herbal medicines and conventional Chemotherapy can help check the growth of cancer cells.

In fact, a team of Sidha doctors, who worked with Oncologists for this study, said that they have managed to reduce the common chemotherapy-related side-effects, such as drop in the white blood cell and platelet count, nausea, hair fall and loss of appetite.

The study, which began in the year 2010, with practitioners from Aarogya Siddha Hospitals and scientists from Centre for Toxicology and Developmental Research of Sri Ramachandra University, used a combination of variant of cashew nut (semecarpus anacardium), kodiveli (plumbago zeylanica) and Ashwagandha (Indian ginseng or withunia somnifera) for their study. The tests conducted, indicated a 37percent decline in growth of cancer cells, with combination therapy.

The herbal extract worked particularly well on ovaries, breast, liver and pancreas, the doctors said. Further, one of the main advantages of this combination treatment is that, unlike in patients undergoing chemotherapy alone, patients taking combination drugs, showed considerably less decline in their WBC and platelet counts following chemotherapy.

In fact, several doctors intend to advise their patients in taking these herbal extracts as supplements, along with allopathy treatments and chemotherapy, to reduce side-effects. But, the only hitch is that these drugs need more scientific validation, and hence they cannot be prescribed now.

The doctors, now plan to begin conducting animal trials to find the effectiveness of this new technique, with support from National Institute of Siddha.

According to a Psycho-oncologist at Adyar Cancer Institute, Chennai, it is advisable for patients to include ingredients such as garlic, turmeric and nuts into their daily diet, and getting back to old Indian kitchens that did not have any processed food, is the best.