India has led in alternative therapies for various illnesses, including cancer, for decades but it’s only now that they are getting validated scientifically, too.

In a recent development, the cancer centre of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) has successfully tested a coded ayurvedic drug for improving quality of life of breast cancer patients. However, it does not have any role in curing the disease.

Dr G K Rath, who heads the cancer centre, told TOI that the testing was carried out over three years and its report has been submitted to the research wing of the AYUSH ministry .”Initial reports confirm that the drug is helpful in reducing the side effects like hair fall, nausea and fall in vital blood parameters,” he added.

According to the researchers, further statistical analysis is being conducted at AYUSH to quantify the benefits of the drug following which it might even be patented. “In the AIIMS study, 60 patients were subdivided into two groups, one group received only standard treatment while the other received the coded ayurvedic drug in addition to radiotherapy and chemotherapy for three years. The latter had a significantly better recovery rate,” said Dr Rath, adding that a more extensive, multi-centric study might be conducted to re-evaluate the benefits following which the drug can be recommended for therapeutic use.

Researchers said that at present nearly 20% of cancer patients at AIIMS discontinue treatment because of side effects. The ayurvedic drugs and other alternative therapies being researched upon can act as a complementary therapy to reduce various side effects and improve the outcome of the main treatment–radiation and chemotherapy, they added.

 Studies on role of yoga too
 It’s not just the alternative medicine, the AYUSH ministry is seriously considering validating the application of yoga in improving quality of life in cancer patients. The ministry is considering research proposals from many cancer institutes for the same, said sources.
 We have submitted a project that aims at assessing the role of yoga in helping patients cope with cancer treatment,” said Dr K S Gopinath, director and surgical oncologist at HCG, Bangalore. The AIIMS physiology department has submitted a similar proposal.Recently , AYUSH minister Shripad Naik had created a controversy by claiming that yoga can cure cancer. He referred to the claims made by a deemed Yoga University from Bengaluru to back his statement.