Ayurvedic treatment for Colorectal cancer

Colorectal cancer

Know More on Gastro Intestinal diseases

  • Definition
  • Causes
  • Symptoms
  • Diagnosis
  • Management
  • FAQS
  • References


Colorectal cancer Ayurvedic treatment


The term ‘Colorectal cancer’ refers to the cancer of the colon (last part of large intestine including the rectum). The condition begins with small growths inside the intestinal wall - called as polyps - that later on develop into a cancer.1,2

In Ayurveda, polyp like structures in the body are described as Granthi. Out of the Tridoshas i.e. Vatta, Pitta and Kapha, aggravation of any produces a non-cancerous tumor. But, on the other hand, when there is Sannipatja i.e three doshas get aggravated at the same time, they may produce cancerous growth which is dangerous.3

Following of an unhealthy lifestyle, unhealthy food habits, poor hygiene and bad health habits result in imbalance of doshas, which ultimately leads to formation of tumors or cancerous growth in body. According to Ayurveda, as each person is different and has different exposure to risk factors, they are differently vulnerable to different types of cancers.3


Colorectal cancer


As with most of the cancers, it is not clearly understood as to what causes colorectal cancer. However many risk factors increase the chances of getting colorectal cancer. These are either modifiable or non-modifiable.2

Modifiable risk factors (Those that you can change) 2

  • Being obese/overweight
  • No physical activity
  • Certain harmful diets
  • Smoking habit
  • Long term and heavy alcohol use

Non modifiable risk factors are 2

  • Age > 50 years
  • A personal past history of cancer
  • A personal history of chronic constipation
  • Any family history of colorectal cancer


Colorectal cancer


Symptoms may not be seen in early stage of colorectal cancer but following symptoms should be closely looked at2:

  • Any change in regular motions, like having diarrhea, constipation without reason
  • Continues feeling that you need to have a bowel movement
  • Bleeding from the rectum
  • Seeing any blood in the stool
  • Pain in abdomen
  • Unexplained weight loss

There is often bleeding in the digestive tract due to colorectal cancers. This may over time, lead to anemia - often the first sign of a colorectal cancer.2


Colorectal cancer


Diagnosis of colorectal cancer will be based on regular symptoms and certain investigations for the same.4

The following tests are commonly recommended to rule out or diagnose colorectal cancer4 -

  • Physical examination: For health symptoms
  • Complete blood count (CBC): To rule out blood abnormalities
  • Other blood tests: To check for liver and kidney health
  • Stool tests: To check for any hidden, or occult, blood in the stool.
  • Double-contrast barium enema: an imaging test that uses a special substance (barium sulphate) and x-rays to make images of the entire large intestine
  • Sigmoidoscopy/Colonoscopy: An endoscope that is used to look inside the colon and rectum.
  • Biopsy: remove tissues or cells from the body so they can be tested in a lab.
  • Cell and tissue analysis: To look for certain changes or characteristics in the body tissue
  • CT scan: used to check if colorectal cancer has spread to other organs


Colorectal cancer


Ayurvedic management of colorectal cancer primarily includes change in diet and herbal medication prescription. Ayurveda recommends against consuming incompatible foods, conflicting foods and unwholesome foods as they may be carcinogenic or cancer-causing (Nidan parivarjana). 3

Shodhana treatment (purification process which eliminates doshas) is also recommended. Panchkarma therapy can be given under shodhana chikitsa. Whereas shamana (suppressive therapy) pacifies doshas and gradually relieves the diseases and commonly prescribed for weaker patients.3 Herbs like turmeric, amla (gooseberry), psyllium husk and triphala may be beneficial as they help correct the Agni or improve digestion, and help in removing constipation by correcting metabolic defects which further overcome the side effects or complications of anti-cancerous drugs.3,5

Diet Recommendations (Aahar)

  • Eat sattvic ahara (holistic food) and seasonal fresh fruits, vegetables, and cereals as much as possible
  • Consume milk, fruit juices, butter and fresh cheese, fresh nuts and seeds, sprouts, honey and herbal tea
  • Say no to snacks, fast food and ready to eat food
  • Reducing the use of microwave ovens/stir frying is advocated over steaming.6 Consume less meat, especially red meat may help.

Lifestyle changes (Vihar)

  • Perform daily exercises and take long walks
  • Meditation and yoga for mental and physical relaxation are very beneficial

 Role of Panchakarma in Cancer Treatment

 Panchkarma not only activates the body’s self-healing ability but also calms the doshas and aids removal of kapha and toxins from the body. In this therapy, body channels are cleansed and nourishment and revitalization of dhatus occur. Specific herbs according to the cause, site of cancer and strength of patient may be used.3


Colorectal cancer
  1. What is GERD?

Acid reflux disease - also commonly known as Gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) is condition in which acid from the stomach regurgitates or moves up into the esophagus (gullet).

  1. How are fissures caused?

An anal fissure may occur when due to passing of hard or large stools during a bowel movement. Anal fissures typically cause pain and bleeding with bowel movements. One may experience spasms in the ring of muscle at the end of the anus (anal sphincter).

  1. Can a fissure heal completely?

With appropriate treatment and following of pathya apathya, a fissure can heal completely. Although care should be taken not to be constipated and have high amount of fiber in food.

  1. What is a kshar karma? How is it different from other surgery

Kshar karma is a specialized Ayurvedic surgical procedure that involves minimal blood loss and provides excellent relief in hemorrhoids and fistulas. It involves the applying of a sclerosing agent, such as apamarg kshar snuhi kshar etc.

It differs from conventional surgery as in it does not require anaesthesia, shows minimal blood loss and need not require inpatient admissions.

  1. What are the risk factors of developing bowel incontinence?

A number of factors can increase the risk of developing fecal incontinence. These include:

  • Age: It is more common in middle-aged and older adults.
  • Female gender: Fecal incontinence is slightly more common in women. One reason may be that fecal incontinence can be a complication of childbirth.
  • Nerve damage: People who have long-standing diabetes or multiple sclerosis — conditions that can damage nerves that help control defecation — may be at risk of fecal incontinence.
  • Dementia: Fecal incontinence is often present in late-stage Alzheimer's disease and dementia.
  • Physical disability: Being physically disabled may make it difficult to reach a toilet in time. An injury that caused a physical disability also may cause rectal nerve damage, leading to fecal incontinence. Also, inactivity can lead to constipation, resulting in fecal incontinence.
  1. What exercises can be done to have better control on the motions?

Certain asanas that help strengthen the pelvic floor (muscles around the anal opening) are recommended for better control over the anorectal area. These are -

Utkatasana                   Virabhadrasana                 Ananda Balasana             Shlabhasana


  1. Can celiac disease lead to anything serious?

Untreated, celiac disease can cause the following complications:

  • Malnutrition: The damage to your small intestine means it can't absorb enough nutrients. Malnutrition can lead to anemia and weight loss. In children, malnutrition can cause slow growth and short stature.
  • Calcium loss of calcium and low bone density: Malabsorption of calcium and vitamin D may lead to a softening of the bone (osteomalacia or rickets) in children and a loss of bone density (osteoporosis) in adults.
  • Infertility and miscarriage: Malabsorption of calcium and vitamin D can contribute to reproductive issues.
  • Lactose intolerance: Damage to your small intestine may cause you to experience abdominal pain and diarrhea after eating lactose-containing dairy products, even though they don't contain gluten. Once your intestine has healed, you may be able to tolerate dairy products again. However, some people continue to experience lactose intolerance despite successful management of celiac disease.
  • Cancer: People with celiac disease who don't maintain a gluten-free diet have a greater risk of developing several forms of cancer, including intestinal lymphoma and small bowel cancer.
  • Neurological problems: Some people with celiac disease may develop neurological problems such as seizures or peripheral neuropathy (disease of the nerves that lead to the hands and feet).

In children, celiac disease can also lead to failure to thrive, delayed puberty, weight loss, irritability and dental enamel defects, anemia, arthritis, and epilepsy.

  1. Who gets affected by pancreatitis?

Acute pancreatitis is more common in middle-aged and elderly people, but it can affect people of any age. Men are more likely to develop alcohol-related pancreatitis, while women are more likely to develop it as a result of gallstones.

  1. What are the common causes of developing ulcers in stomach?

Common causes of peptic ulcers include -

  • Long-term use of non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • An infection with the bacteria Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori)
  • Rare cancerous and/or noncancerous tumors in the stomach, duodenum, or pancreas

Addtionally, intake of alcohol and smoking also increase the chances of having a gastric ulcer.

  1. What causes hemorrhoids?

Swelling in the anal or rectal veins causes hemorrhoids. Several factors may cause this swelling, including -

  • Chronic constipation or diarrhea
  • Straining during bowel movements
  • Sitting on the toilet for long periods of time
  • A lack of fiber in the diet

Another cause of hemorrhoids is the weakening of the connective tissue in the rectum and anus that occurs with age.

Pregnancy can cause hemorrhoids by increasing pressure in the abdomen, which may enlarge the veins in the lower rectum and anus. For most women, hemorrhoids caused by pregnancy disappear after childbirth.



Colorectal cancer
  1. Colorectal cancer. Available at http://www.cancer.gov/types/colorectal accessed on Aug 24th 2014
  2. American Cancer society. Colorectal cancer. Available at http://www.cancer.org/cancer/colonandrectumcancer/detailedguide/colorectal-cancer-signs-and-symptoms accessed on Aug 24th 2016
  3. Gupta S, Mofod P, Bansal S et al. An Ayurvedic Outlook To Heal Cancer. Int. J. Res. Ayurveda Pharm. Aug 2015 6(4):457-62
  4. Canadian Cancer society. Diagnosis of Colorectal cancer. Available at http://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-type/colorectal/diagnosis/?region=on accessed Aug 24th 2016
  5. Kumar M. J Biol Sci Opinion 2015: 3(6)280-283
  6. http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancers-in-general/cancer-questions/radiation-microwaves-and-cancer

Disclaimer: The information on this page is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Do not use this information to diagnose or ayurvedic treatment of gastro-intestinal-diseases and/or colorectal cancer without consulting the doctor. Consult your physician before beginning an exercise regime. "While we have products /ayurvedic medicines for gastro-intestinal-diseases and/or colorectal cancer, you must consult an authorized physician before taking any of the products. For more information on products, visit www.dabur.com or call 1800-103-1644"