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  • Dr A A Mundewadi

Multiple Myeloma – Ayurvedic Herbal Medicine

Updated: Mar 22

Multiple myeloma, also known as myeloma or Kahler’s disease, is a cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow. Plasma cells are responsible for producing different antibodies against infections to which the body is exposed. Myeloma features an abnormal proliferation of plasma cells in the bone marrow, causing destructive bone lesions, and producing an abnormal protein known as monoclonal antibody or M protein. Common symptoms include anemia, fatigue, weight loss and weakness, unexplained fever, bleeding, bone pain and bone tenderness, hypercalcemia, fractures, kidney disease, nerve pains, enlarged tongue, skin lesions, and an increased susceptibility to infections.

The exact cause of multiple myeloma is as yet unknown; however, it is believed that exposure to chemicals, radiation, and viruses; immune disorders; and a family or genetic history, may cause or trigger the disease. This condition is usually seen in middle and old age. A detailed medical history and clinical examination, coupled with multiple blood and urine tests, along with x-ray and bone marrow tests may be required for a confirmed diagnosis of myeloma.

Based upon the severity, the disease is usually divided into three stages and has a median survival of about three years; however, there may be wide variations, depending upon the disease severity, immune status of the patient, and the response to treatment. Although there is presently no cure for this disease, a combination of treatments can help achieve a prolonged remission. Treatment includes immune-modulators, radiation, chemotherapy, surgery, stem cell transplant, blood transfusions, and plasmapheresis.

Ayurvedic herbal treatment can be used concurrently with modern treatment in order to bring about a complete remission of the disease and prevent a relapse. In order to reverse the basic pathophysiology of the disease, herbal medicines are given to neutralize and remove the malignant plasma cells and help the bone marrow produce normal blood precursors. The deposition of abnormal protein causes damage in various organs, and this needs to be treated separately. Kidney damage can be reversed completely if treated with herbs at early detection. Nerve damage and neuropathy has to be treated with herbal medicines which act on the central nervous system as well as on peripheral nerve endings. Medicines which act on the blood tissue need to be given on order to treat anemia, abnormal bleeding, and skin rashes.

Other herbs are added to help treat bone pain, reduce crowding of plasma cells in bone, prevent fractures, and bring about healing of bone lesions. Severe bone pain is a typical feature of advanced disease. Highly aggressive treatment is required in order to provide relief from bone pain, bone tenderness and prevent fractures. Sometimes, a special Ayurvedic Panchkarma procedure known as Tikta-Ksheer basti is needed. In this procedure, several courses of enemas of medicated oils and medicated milk are given to help ease off bone lesions.

Immune modulation is an important part of treatment to help prevent severe infections. For multiple myeloma, Ayurvedic herbo-mineral drugs, known as Rasayanas, are used judiciously with maximum impact in reversing most of the symptoms and signs of this condition. It is important to choose one or several Rasayanas which regulate blood and bone marrow metabolism, modulate immunity, reverse weakness and weight loss, and also treat anemia and low grade fever. At the same time, these medicines should be well tolerated by the patient and should not have any adverse effects on important body organs like the kidneys, liver and heart.

Once a patient achieves remission, it is important to gradually taper off the treatment while continuing a few important medicines so as to prevent a relapse. Blood and urine tests are used to monitor for a relapse. With a combination of modern and Ayurvedic treatment, most patients having multiple myeloma achieve remission within 12 to 18 months. In order to prevent a relapse, they need low dose medications and monitoring for at least 5 years.

Ayurvedic herbal treatment can thus be judiciously used in combination with modern treatment to successfully manage and treat multiple myeloma.

The writer, Dr A A Mundewadi, is available as an Ayurvedic consultant at www.ayurvedaphysician.com and www.mundewadiayurvedicclinic.com


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