Multiple myeloma is a cancer that begins in the bone marrow in the plasma cells. The disease is called multiple myeloma because it affects many bones. Although multiple myeloma affects the bones, it begins in the blood cells of the bone marrow, and is not a bone tumor. An age over 65, an origin of African-American race, and a personal history of monoclonal gammopathy, are risk factors for this condition. Common symptoms include bone pain, fractured bones, weakness, frequent infections and fevers, weight loss, nausea, constipation and frequent urination. Chemotherapy, stem cell transplantation and radiation therapy are the standard line of treatment for this disease.
The Ayurvedic treatment of multiple myeloma is aimed at treating the basic pathology of the disease and reducing or controlling the complications. Panch-Tikta-Ghrut-Guggulu, Trayo-Dashang-Guggulu, Punarnavadi-Guggulu, Arogya-Vardhini, Kanchnaar-Guggulu and Panch-Tikta-Ghrut are used in high doses to treat the dysfunctional bone marrow. Medicines which act on the ‘Majja’ dhatu (tissue) are useful in multiple myeloma. These include Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia), Amalaki (Emblica officinalis) and Musta (Cyperus rotundus). Medicines which act on the ‘Rakta’ dhatu of the body are also useful in this condition. These medicines include Patol (Tricosanthe dioica), Kutki (Picrorrhiza kurroa), Saariva (Hemidesmus indicus), Patha (Cissampelos pareira) and Musta.
A special course of medicated enema called ‘Ksheer-Basti’ is used in multiple myeloma. This procedure is believed to act directly on the bone and bone marrow. Repeated courses of this procedure are effective in correcting the abnormal bone marrow and in reducing bone pain and fractures.
Multiple myeloma can lead to several complications which need to be treated separately. Anemia can be treated using Tapyadi-Loh and Punarnavadi-Mandur. Bone pain can be treated using Laxadi-Guggulu and Asthishrunkhala (Cissus quadrangularis). High levels of calcium in the blood, amyloidosis (protein accumulation) and kidney failure can be treated using Gokshur (Tribulus terrestris), Guduchi, Punarnava (Boerhaavia diffusa), Punarnavadi-Qadha, Gokshuradi-Guggulu and Chandraprabha-Vati.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Suvarna-Parpati, Ras-Parpati, Panchamrut-Parpati, Suvarna-Sutshekhar-Ras, Suvarna-Malini-Vasant, Suvarna-Bhasma and Heerak-Bhasma are used to improve the immunity of the body. To prevent or reduce side effects from chemotherapy and radiation therapy, medicines like Ashwagandha, Shankh-Vati, Laghu-Sutshekhar-Ras and Vishwa (Zinziber officinalis) are used.
Thus, Ayurvedic medicines can be used as additional therapy in multiple myeloma to bring about a faster response, to prevent recurrence, and improve quality of life and overall survival of the patient. It is important to note that all such patients should be under the regular care and supervision of an Oncology team.