Help for Cancer Patients from an Ancient Tradition
Thirteen years ago Susan D., a 45-year-old patient diagnosed with stage II breast cancer, was scheduled for surgery and chemotherapy. Susan decided to consult with a physician at the Maharishi Ayurveda Health Center in Fairfield, Iowa. The physician showed her some preliminary research suggesting that Maharishi Amrit Kalash helped reduce the toxicity of chemotherapy and boosted immunity.
Maharishi Amrit Kalash is an ancient ayurvedic herbal formula with legendary properties, revived 25 years ago under the guidance of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and leading experts from the ayurvedic tradition. Considered one of the most important Rasayanas or "elixirs" in the ayurvedic tradition, Amrit Kalash consists of two complementary herbal compounds: MAK-4, an herbal paste commonly known as Amrit Nectar; and MAK-5, an herbal tablet known as Amrit Ambrosia.
"I read the research and saw that Maharishi Amrit Kalash increased antioxidants," says Susan. "Since chemotherapy results in cell destruction, it seemed like a good idea to use Amrit to reduce the toxic side effects of chemotherapy."
Immediately after her cancer surgery and chemotherapy, Susan started taking double doses of Amrit. Unlike other patients who experienced nausea and fatigue with chemotherapy, Susan reported that she felt surprisingly good, and that her quality of life was great. Even more importantly, Susan has had no recurrence of cancer after 13 years.
It turns out that Susan's experience was not a coincidence. New research has found that Maharishi Amrit Kalash reduces the debilitating side effects of chemotherapy in breast cancer patients. This research was conducted by Dr. A. Saxena and associates at the prestigious All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi in association with The Ohio State University School of Medicine, and was published in India's leading oncology journal in 2008. The study has profound implications for doctors and cancer patients alike.
"This research is the most recent and extensive of a series of studies that have examined the use of Amrit in reducing the side effects of chemotherapy," says Stuart Rothenberg, M.D., Director of Health Professional Training Programs at the Maharishi Ayur-Veda Association of America. Dr. Rothenberg points out that this new research follows a series of studies on Amrit and chemotherapy. Previous studies performed in 1994 and 2000 found similar effects in reducing the toxicity of chemotherapy, but the results of the new study are more significant because the number of subjects is larger.
Result #1: Significant Reduction in Side Effects
The subjects of the new study were all undergoing chemotherapy for treatment of breast cancer. They were randomly assigned to one of two groups: 102 women received Maharishi Amrit Kalash, while the 112 patients in the control group did not. Both received comparable chemotherapy. The study continued through six rounds of chemotherapy at 21-day intervals.
The control group experienced the usual debilitating side effects of chemotherapy, including loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, mouth ulcers and inflammation, hair loss, reduction of white blood cell count, and overall diminished ability to function in daily life. In contrast, the group taking Maharishi Amrit Kalash had significant reductions in nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting, and weight loss, as compared to the control group.
"In an interesting side-note, the authors of the study mention that there are allopathic drugs to control these side effects, but unfortunately those drugs have their own negative side effects," says Dr. Rothenberg. "One of the key features of Maharishi Amrit Kalash is that it doesn't have any known side effects, making it potentially a valuable addition to the chemotherapy regimen."
Result #2: Improved Overall Health
The Maharishi Amrit Kalash group scored significantly higher than the control group on a scale of overall health and functionality, as measured by the Karnofsky performance test.
This is significant, because stronger health allows people to continue with their chemotherapy treatments. By taking Amrit, the patients could withstand the treatments, and like Susan D., could lead a more normal life during chemotherapy.
Result #3: No Interference with Chemotherapy
The study also looked at tumor response, finding that the women taking Amrit showed the same progress in reducing tumor cells through chemotherapy as the control group.
A Powerful Antioxidant
Research on the antioxidant qualities of Maharishi Amrit Kalash helps explain why the compound has been found effective, not only in reducing chemotherapy side effects but also in impacting a range of diseases from cardiovascular disorders to cancer itself.
"It's known from previous studies that Maharishi Amrit Kalash "scavenges" or removes free radicals from the system," says Dr. Rothenberg. "Dr. Yuki Niwa, a prominent free radical researcher from Japan, found that Amrit is significantly more effective than 500 other substances regarded as powerful antioxidants."
Chemotherapy creates an excess of free radicals that can damage the tissues. The body does create its own antioxidant enzyme, called superoxide dismutase (SOD). But when the body is flooded with free radicals during chemotherapy, SOD alone can't protect the body adequately. By introducing the powerful antioxidants in Amrit, the body is better able to maintain a state of balance, even during the onslaught of chemotherapy.
Professor Niwa demonstrated that Maharishi Amrit Kalash markedly reduced free radicals in tissue in a laboratory "test tube" setting, and also showed significant reduction in oxidation of human tissue in blood samples obtained from individuals who were taking Amrit.
"Dr. Niwa's study showed that Amrit significantly blocked the oxidation of lipids, which is an important step in the formation of oxidized LDL cholesterol or 'bad' cholesterol," says Dr. Rothenberg. "This finding is relevant not only for cancer but for coronary heart disease, which is caused by LDL cholesterol that has become oxidized or rancidized, creating plaque which thickens the walls of the arteries and closes them off, resulting in heart attacks and strokes. It's just another step from there to see how Amrit might be useful in aging-related degenerative disorders such as osteoarthritis, degenerative arthritis and perhaps cancer itself."
In fact, earlier research by Dr. Hari Sharma showed that there is a direct anti-cancer effect from Maharishi Amrit Kalash in a test tube setting and in laboratory animals. The next step would be to repeat this research in a clinical setting with human patients.
The researchers also plan to repeat the new study with a more stringent experimental design. In the authors' comments, they noted that one limitation of this study was that the control group did not receive a placebo. They are planning a double-blind, placebo controlled trial in the future.
Implications for Doctors and Patients
With one in eight American women diagnosed with breast cancer today, and many more Americans undergoing chemotherapy for all forms of cancer, this new research study has important implications for both doctors and patients.
"Physicians who are prescribing chemotherapy should consider supplementing the treatment with Maharishi Amrit Kalash to help mitigate the harmful effects of chemotherapy," Dr. Rothenberg advises. "And physicians should consider using Maharishi Amrit Kalash in any disease condition where free radicals play a significant role, such as atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, and other diseases associated with the aging process."
Dr. Rothenberg is now collaborating with a group that specializes in pain management in trauma victims, such as people suffering from whiplash or chronic back pain from car accidents. Over the course of three years they have found in a series of case reports that adding Maharishi Amrit Kalash to their pain management regimens has significantly boosted the effects of treatment. A number of patients who were previously addicted to prescription pain killers reported that their pain and debilitation had subsided, and they were able to return to work and a normal life much more quickly.
Based on the experiences of this group, Dr. Rothenberg and other researchers are designing a clinical study to test the effectiveness of Amrit and other Maharishi Ayurveda treatments in mitigating pain and restoring functionality in chronic pain patients.
Although this ancient herbal formula can help provide relief to people with a range of chronic disorders, everyone can gain significant benefits from taking Amrit regularly.
"Let's not forget that the original purpose of Maharishi Amrit Kalash, as described in the ancient Ayurvedic texts, was for rejuvenation and maintaining biological youthfulness," says Dr. Rothenberg. "Amrit is actually designed to be taken as a food supplement by everyone who wants to promote good health and prevent the effects of accelerated aging."
Saxena, A., et al., "An ayurvedic herbal compound to reduce toxicity of cancer chemotherapy." Indian Journal of Medical and Paediatric Oncology, 2008: Vol. 29 No 2.
Additional Research References:
- A. Srivastava, A., Samaiya, A. et al., Maharishi Amrit Kalash [MAK-4 and MAK-5] educes chemotherapy toxicity in breast cancer patients. Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal, 2000: Vol. 14, No.4, p. A720.
- Misra, N.C., Sharma H.M., Chatuvedi A., et al., Antioxidant adjuvant therapy using natural herbal mixtures (MAK-4 and MAK-5) during intensive chemotherapy reduction in toxicity. Proceeding of the XVI International Cancer Congress Bologna, Italy, Monduzzi editore, 1994: 3099-3102.
- Dogra, J. et al., MAK-4 & MAK-5 in Ischemic Heart Disease (IHD). Federation of the American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal, 2000: Vol. 14 No. 4, p. A121 (Abstract).
- Dogra, J. et al., Indigenous Free Radical Scavenger MAK-4 & MAK-5 in Angina Pectoris. Journal of the Association of Physicians of India, 1994: Vol. 42, No. 6, pp. 466-467.
- Niwa, Y. Effect of Maharishi-4 [MAK-4] and Maharishi-5 [MAK-5] on inflammatory mediators - with special reference to their free radical scavenging effect. Indian journal of Clinical Practice, 1991: 8(1):23-27.
- Niwa, Y. The importance of superoxide dismutase functioning and marked antioxidant activity demonstrated in Maharishi Amrit Kalash. International symposium Utrecht, The Netherlands, 9 Sept. 1989 (Abstract).
- Sharma, H.M., Dwivedi, C., Satter, B.C., Abou-Issa, H. Antineoplastic properties of Maharishi Amrit Kalash [MAK-7], an ayurvedic food supplement, against 7,12- Dimethylbenz (a) Anthracene-induced Mammary tumours in rats. Journal of Research and Education in Indian Medicine, 1991: 10(3):1-8.
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.