Cancer is one of the most dreaded diseases on the planet, especially because we are yet to find a cure. WHO estimates that there will be 19.3 million new cases of cancer every year by 2025.

Classical medicine says that the human body is based on three elements — Dhatu, Mala, and Dosha. Any psychological and pathological change in the body causes imbalance of the three elements, causing inflammation or shopa.

Cancer in Ayurvedic Texts

In the Charak Samhita and the Sushruta Samhita, cancer is described as either granthi (benign tumor) or arbuda (malignant tumor).

  • Benign tumors develop when one or two doshas of the body (vata, pitta, or kapha) are involved.
  • When all three doshas are involved (i.e. there is sannipatja), malignant tumors are formed.

Sushruta said that shopha (inflammation) occurs when arbuda is progressing due to impairment of the doshas. It, then, causes vidradhi (abscess).

  • If the abscess festers, it becomes arbuda.
  • If not, it forms gulma (palpable, hard mass) which then becomes granthi.

Enema (Basti) for cancer

Ayurveda describes two types of treatment for cancer:

  • Shaman Chikitsa (palliative treatment) – indicated in diseases with alpadoshaavastha (vitiation of humors in less proportion)
  • ShodhanaChikitsa (therapeutic body purification treatment) – indicated in conditions where toxins or vitiated humors are deep-rooted in the body

In Shodhanachikitsa, various purification procedures are performed:

  • Vamana (therapeutic emesis)
  • Virechana (therapeutic purgation)
  • Basti (therapeutic enema)
  • Raktamokshana (bloodletting)
  • Nasya (administration of medicine through the nose)

Among all these treatments, basti (enema) is considered to be most effective for diseases that occur due to vitiated vata dosha. The administration of medicines via the anus is called basti.

Basti is itself considered ardhachikitsa (half treatment) for many diseases. It is a powerful tool for Ayurvedic physicians since it is the only panchakarma or shodhanaupakrama which nourishes and rejuvenates the body. Since cancer requires both these effects, bastiupakrama is the best treatment procedure for cancer sufferers.

Basti is considered safe among cancer patients, even those who are in the terminal stages of cancer. Basti combats all aspects of cancer pathogenesis including symptomatic relief and prevention of recurrence or complications.

Medicated enema is indicated for wounds that are rough, severely affected by vata, and especially located in the lower body. Basti karma is best suited to treat cancers of rectum i.e. sites below the umbilicus.

Among the different types of basti, yapanabasti is best suited for cancer as it nourishes and rejuvenates tissues through immunomodulation and antioxidant properties.

Basti chikitsa modulates immune responses by regulating the function of pro-inflammatory cytokines, immunoglobulins, and T-cells.

  • Active ingredients in the Basti drugs are absorbed by active transport and diffusion because they are water soluble.
  • Sneha basti and other nourishing basti treatments contain hypo-osmotic solutions facilitating absorption into the blood.

Basti purges the morbid contents of the large intestine, where it accumulates to cause disease. Thus, the procedure helps to establish homeostasis in the body which promotes good health, improved digestion and metabolism, and psychological calm.

To perform therapeutic enemas it is best to use enema kits with containers made of inert materials like stainless steel or rubber latex, rather than plastics which may leech chemicals into the liquid.

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