Herbal Drugs prevent side effects of chemotherapy in cancer treatment: Doctoral Research

Insight Online News

Pune, Apr 7 : A Pune study on mice has recently established that Ayurveda-based herbal drugs, such as Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) and Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus) have the potential to significantly prevent the side effects of chemotherapy.

This study was doctoral research by Dr. Akash Saggam under the guidance of Prof. Bhushan Patwardhan, Prof. Kalpana Joshi, and Vaidya Girish Tillu at the School of Health Sciences, Savitribai Phule Pune University. It was carried out at Serum Institute of India under the supervision of Dr. Sunil Gairola and Dr. Manish Gautam.

The study was focused on myelosuppression that is the major side effect of chemotherapy. Myelosuppression is referred as incapability of bone marrow to produce white blood cells those are responsible for immunity. On the other hand, Ayurveda proposes use of Rasayana therapy that boosts immunity. Ashwagandha and Shatavari have such a potential to enhance immune response. The study by Dr Saggam and colleagues applied immunomodulatory effect of these herbs to prevent myelosuppression in mice.

Dr. Saggam used Paclitaxel drug as a representative of chemotherapy to cause myelosuppression and explored the efficacy of aqueous and hydroalcoholic extracts of Ashwagandha and Shatavari to prevent myelosuppression. He also observed that the signs of fatigue, pain, and hair-loss in mice due to paclitaxel were reduced by Ashwagandha and Shatavari.

The five-year research project was sponsored by the Ministry of Ayush, Government of India. The results of this study are published in the journal- Frontiers in pharmacology.
This study also set an example of successful industry-academia consortium.

Dr. Saggam in his interview highlighted the potential of Ayurveda to reduce side effects of chemotherapy. He stated, “This study generated scientific evidence to Rasayana concept that strengthens physiological homeostasis. However, there is a need of systematic clinical studies to test the effects in cancer patients”. Dr. Saggam’s core research area includes Molecular Immunology, Cancer Biology, Ayurveda, Integrative Medicine, and Computational Biology.

This research was in keeping with the global trend for a holistic and interdisciplinary approach for the treatment of the mankind.


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