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Fire Ravages Poonamallee Medical Godown

The Times of India
08 April 2012
Chennai, India

A combination of siddha medicines and conventional chemotherapy can help check the growth of cancer cells, a preliminary city-based study has found. A team of siddha doctors working with oncologists say it has managed to reduce side-effects common during chemotherapy, such as fall in the white blood cell count, with the combination therapy. As the next step, the doctors plan, with support from the National Institute of Siddha, to conduct animal trials to find if this new technique is effective.

In 2010, practitioners from the Aarogya Siddha Hospitals began the research along with doctors and scientists of the Centre for Toxicology and Developmental Research of Sri Ramachandra University. They used a combination of a variant of cashew nut (semecarpus anacardium), kodiveli (plumbago zeylanica) and aswagandha or Indian ginseng (withunia somnifera) on cancer cell lines in a petri dish. Weeks later, they found the growth of cancer cells had slowed by 37% in the petri dish where combination therapy was used.

“The herbal extract seemed to work appreciably on the breast, ovaries, liver and pancreas,” Dr G Sivaraman of the Aarogya Siddha Hospitals said at a recent medical education programme on integrative oncology.

The results are yet to be peer reviewed or published, but were presented at an international conference of the Society for Integrative Oncology in Cleveland, Ohio as a poster. “Animal trials will begin soon,” said Dr Sivaraman.

But what has excited the scientists is that the siddha medicines, when given to cancer patients, during chemotherapy and radiation, help reduce the side effects. During chemotherapy, good cells such as white blood cells (WBC) and platelets are also killed along with the cancerous cells. Tests done on patients taking these siddha drugs have shown that their WBC and platelet counts don’t fall drastically after therapy.

Several oncologists have recommended that patients combine siddha medicines with cancer therapy. Dr PS Panneerselvam of Salem Cancer Institute, Salem plans to distribute these herbs that come in syrup and tablet forms to those undergoing chemotherapy. "It is only a combination therapy. We ask patients to continue their allopathic treatment and use siddha medicines as supplements to reduce side-effects," he said.

But many doctors say they aren't able to write names of these drugs on the prescription as there is no scientific validation of these drugs. Psycho-oncologist Dr E Vidubala of the Adyar Cancer Institute advises patients to add ingredients like garlic, turmeric and nuts to their daily meals. "I tell my patients to go back to old Indian kitchens that did not have any processed food," he said.

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