MARCH 31, 2017
Can Ayurvedic drugs help treat cancer? AIIMS to study
By Durgesh Nanjan Jha, March 31, 2017
Do ayurvedic drugs help treat cancer? While proponents of the alternative therapy claim it does, the scientific community denies it, citing lack of evidence. To clear this confusion, AIIMS is taking up a major research project where it will collaborate with experts from the Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences to study and validate the efficacy of ayurvedic drugs used for treating cancer of the breast, cervix, and oral cancer, among others.
G K Rath, who heads the cancer division at AIIMS, told TOI that the large-scale project follows pilot studies conducted at the institute that showed better recovery on the administration of coded ayurvedic drugs, in addition to radiotherapy and chemotherapy, in cancer patients.
However, it did not have any role in curing the disease. “One of our pilot studies involving breast cancer patients confirms that the ayurvedic drug helped in reducing side effects like hair fall, nausea and fall in vital blood parameters,” Dr. Rath said.
AIIMS doctors say many people in India believe and take to alternative therapies, and, in some cases, positive outcomes have been observed. However, evidence generation has remained elusive as most practitioners do not share the ingredients used. “Our aim is to validate the medicines prescribed as alternative therapy .This will help standardise and exploit the potential of this therapy. Allopathic treatment has its limitations and it is often associated with side-effects while alternative therapies are considered safer,” Abhishek Shankar, nodal officer for the collaborative project, said.
The AIIMS project will also look into claims that cannabis helps in maintaining quality of life in cancer patients post-treatment and mitigates acute and chronic radiation and chemotherapy toxicities. “Many practitioners of the alternative therapy give herbo-minerals (bhashm, for example) to treating cancer. There are some studies suggesting it benefits the patient but no one knows in what quantity. Different practitioners give away the herbo-mineral in different quantities, sometimes leading to deterioration in kidney function also,” Dr. Shankar said.
Poison in Ayurvedic drugs. Many patients face deadly effects of heavy metals
By Radha Sharma and Paul John, Ahmedabad, March 31, 2017
Many believe that “herbal” is synonymous with “safe,” but it turns out ayurvedic medicines, if not prepared as prescribed in rasa shastras can, in fact, turn deadly with metals like lead or mercury!
A retired IAS officer and secretary, revenue appeals, G J Champaneri found himself critically ill with severe weight loss, alarmingly low haemoglobin levels, loss of appetite and neurological weakness with wrist drop, making it difficult for him even to hold a cup of tea. After lot of medical consultations, he was diagnosed with lead poisoning ostensibly caused by ayurvedic diabetes medication he had started for better sugar control — the safer way.
“I had started taking an ayurvedic course for diabetes in July 2010. I lost 17 kilos in 10 months, my haemoglobin levels fell to 7, I had abdominal pains and I lost appetite.
I was readying for a spine surgery when a doctor suggested I consult a toxicologist. I was shocked that I was suffering from lead poisoning with exceptionally high lead level of 80.88 ug/dl,” says Champaneri.
The WHO has recommended the upper limit for lead in blood to be no more than 10 ug/dl for adults and 5 ug/dl for children. Retired NIOH clinical toxicologist Dr. Aruna Dewan, now director of Center For Education Awareness and Research On Chemicals and Health says she is getting significant number of lead poisoning cases — mostly triggered by people popping ‘safe ayurvedic’ drugs.
Dewan put Champaneri on a treatment of an oral chelating agent D-penicillamine, one of the most preferred medicines for lead detoxification and a rarely available drug. Dewan said, “There is a strong need for stringent quality control measures to be in place for ayurvedic medicines.” “I recommend people who are taking ayurvedic medicines should get them tested in a government accredited food and drug laboratory for metal traces,” she said.
Leading gastroenterologist Dr. Nilay Mehta said that lead poisoning due to ayurvedic medications with heavy metals, especially those used for treating diabetes is an alarming issue.
He cited the case of a Muslim businessman from Rajkot who was brought to him with convulsions, severe jaundice and altered sensorium wherein he was not able to recognize his family members.
Neurologist Dr. Sudhir Shah treated him for neuropathy. “The businessman had taken ayurvedic medicine to control diabetes for ten-odd months. While his sugar levels were controlled, he suffered serious complications and has not recovered 100% even after two and a half years,” Dr. Mehta said.
“The alarming growth in lead poisoning in patients has now led us to take detailed medication history of patients including ayurvedic and herbal medications as well”, said Dr. Mehta.
The following portion is copied from the printed version of the same article, Times of India April 1, 2017
Ludhiana’s Dayanand Medical College conducted a study on abdominal pains in patients because of lead poisoning.
They found most were on ayurvedic medication.
Reasons for taking Ayurvedic Medicines.
Generalized weakness 19.1
Sexual weakness 20.5
Renal stones 10.9
Skin disorders 6.8
Symptoms of lead toxicity
Abdominal pain 100
Motor symptoms 2.7
Retired principal of Akhandanand Ayurvedic College, Dr. Ghani Mansuri, says that ayurvedic drugs that have any deviation from prescribed Rasa Shastra process will contain traces of heavy metals. These are mainly bhasmas or ashes that are traditionally prepared by purification of the metal by multiple cooling and heating cycles, almost 100 times, and by addition of specific herbs. “In modern times, poor quality control leads to improper purification, contamination and adulteration with heavy metals at the stage of preparation. In most cases, purification jobs are outsourced and hence the bhasmas prepared are of low quality,” said Mansuri.
“I see at least 15 cases of lead poisoning annually due to extra load of heavy metals in ayurvedic medicines taken for sugar control by diabetics. In five to ten cases, the patients have severe complications including poor digestion, jaundice, and chronic liver disease.” –Dr. Nilay Mehta, Gastroenterologist
“A few weeks back, I received a request from a Gujarati family in the U.S. to test ayurvedic drops for infants to relieve colic pain. My lab found 14 parts per million of mercury which was too high. I learnt that the family had carried the drops from Rajkot.” –H.G. Koshia, Food and Drug Commissioner, Gujarat
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Categories: new age