Correlating Traditional Ayurvedic and Modern Medical Perspectives on Cancer: Results of a Qualitative Study

Publication University of California, San Francisco

Dhruva Anand, Hecht Frederick M., Miaskowski Christine, Kaptchuk Ted J., Bodeker Gerard, Abrams Donald, Lad Vasant, and Adler Shelley R.

J Altern Complement Med. 2014 May;20(5):364-70


Objective: To characterize Ayurvedic perspectives on the etiopathogenesis and supportive treatments for a biomedical diagnosis of cancer.

Methods: Hour-long, digitally recorded interviews were conducted with 10 experienced Ayurvedic clinicians, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed using techniques of qualitative thematic analysis.

Results: Four major themes were identified. The Ayurvedic description of the pathophysiology of cancer uses traditional concepts translated into a modern context. Although the biomedical treatment of cancer is considered valuable, from an Ayurvedic perspective it results in degeneration and depletion. In cases where biomedical treatment of cancer is not feasible, an Ayurvedic approach focusing on strengthening digestion, eliminating toxins, reducing tumor growth, and improving tissue metabolism is useful. An Ayurvedic approach to cancer supportive care focuses on restoring equilibrium, building strength, and rejuvenation.

Conclusion: Ayurvedic medicine offers a unique perspective on the biomedical diagnosis of cancer that emphasizes restoring wholeness, uses natural remedies, includes a focus on emotional health, and emphasizes prevention strategies.