Vignesh Devraj | Ep #29 | Complementary Approach to Prostate Cancer using Ayurveda



hi everyone today our guest is dr vignesh an ayurvedic doctor and fourth generation ayurvedic healer in his family he is also the founder and lead physician of sitaram beach retreat in carol

india dr vignesh also specializes in research in panchakarma which we’ll get to know a bit what it is during our uh our conversation but as you as you guys know this this month is the month of november and we are closing off uh our month with dr vignesh and covering a topic that is quite um close to our men’s health which is prostate cancer so uh welcome to dr the podcast dr vinceness we are really excited to have you today and speak about this topic thank you for being here with us thank you um so um we would like to start with i guess a little finding that we found on online um according to the cancer research uk which says that one in six uk males will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime where a person’s risk of developing cancer depends on factors including age genetics and exposure to risk from avoidable lifestyle factors however there is a 78 survival rate for 10 years or more particularly in england and wales um i guess maybe we can like trail it back and and maybe get your uh insight on what actually you know is prostate cancer and what happens to the body when when we uh when we see that happening uh in in our male friends or family members you know uh thank you tasha so uh when it comes to cancer the word itself is like an enigma many people are still finding out what can be done uh what can be prevented what are the best ways to deal with it sometimes chemotherapy sometimes radiation sometimes chemotherapy can be worse than the the disease itself sometimes we hear people have like six months or one year sometimes we hear that the the judgment has been given by the doctor maybe they have like two three years but still they overcome that so there is i the best word to describe cancer is the word enigma it’s still a lot to understand and research and to find out now as you mentioned about this uh statistics statistics is like half of the truth that is what they could find out the other half we don’t know so it’s it’s again it’s like an hypothesis there’s no guarantee about it and we spoke about age we spoke about genetics these two are things that are inevitable we cannot select our genetics it’s something that is predestined but avoidable environmental factors that is something that we have under control so where does this come to and that is the area that we could focus on we could educate people on and definitely um uh when it comes to pros prostate you know the psa levels usually go up after 50s and 60s of the man so um before we go into that maybe it would be uh great to understand what uh what is the prostate and what you can do to men like its function in a more very basic way so that we kind of situate the context so if you look at the prostate gland it is something that nourishes the sperm this it has it helps to uh produce a seminal fluid which is helpful in transmitting the sperm so that it can be ejaculated so this function is very important for continuing the species because if that stops it’s as good as a man being infertile so it plays a very important role in the reproductive capacity of human beings so and you know if you look at it’s a very cheeky kind of precise cheeky kind of a size and to get it inflamed is quite easy for a prostate gland if there is unhealthy lifestyle so psa levels when it goes up it’s a sign that there is an inflammation happening in that organ in that gland so that is what psa means prostate antigen test okay so when this goes up it’s a sign it’s a test done you can you can go to any laboratory where they do the blood work and you can ask to do a uh need to check the psa levels right okay different countries have different uh meters like you know uk and america they use pounds and kilograms so they have different ways of looking at it however if it is coming in the normal value it’s fine if it goes up today what is happening is many people panic it could be a potential cancer right so it can go even to then let’s get it removed these are some of the aspects that people say yes which comes to my which comes to my next question is that if somebody says that you want to remove some can they live a healthy lifestyle without it so uh it’s like just like how breast cancer is uh a problem for a woman prostate cancer is the the male equivalent of breast cancer yeah this is how the current situation is now one of my findings one of my colleague doctor s p s reason i um studied with his mentor who was one of the first oncologists his name is dr c.p matthews he was one of the first oncologists in india he just passed away a month before so one of his approaches having prostate cancer is the best cancer a man can have compared to many other cancer a person could have in a let’s say that now things are worse but among what things could be this is the best case scenario right that is his uh approach of saying and then he says that okay so i was sitting with him while he was you know consulting a patient with who had prostate cancer and then this uh dr cp matthew who’s an oncologist he integrates lots of ayurveda and siddha into his practice and also he has a holistic approach of treating cancer patients so he influenced a lot of my way of viewing how to treat cancer not that i’m expert i’m just still learning and still many oncologists are still learning about it so what his uh experience you know he has over 40 years of experience in treating cancer and 62 years of experience in treatment 40 years he experimented with ayurveda and siddha in his oncology treatment so what he was saying prostate cancer is the best cancer a man can get among all the cancers that could go worse and if that happens removing prostate is the easiest method but that is like when things are really out of control and if the person is really healthy that removing it will help sometimes removing it could be not so great or undergoing chemotherapy and worse than undergoing the cancer itself letting the cancer spread on its own natural ways so this has to be used in a very judicial way and time-to-time basis a generalized uh a clinical approach cannot be given to everyone so patient-to-patient age by age the patient’s strength the willpower the emotional willpower all of that has to be taken into consideration because the moment somebody gets diagnosed with cancer it’s a real havoc in their life you know everything takes a you turn in their life you know they will be thinking oh my should i write my will what’s going to happen to all the things that i’m doing will take care of my family it’s like completely a stance like a lightning bolt right like in kerala we say it’s like you know we have power shutdowns once in a while so you’re watching a high intense movie and suddenly the climax is supposed to happen and then the shutdown happens yeah that’s what happens to the life yeah yeah it’s it’s really like um i mean if you see someone going through cancer that there’s so many aspects for it for right so there’s like the actual cancer the the the issue like the the biological uh aspect of it and then that’s the psychological aspect of it what it creates and then the treatments what are the byproducts of those treatments so it’s it’s a very complex um situation but on its own the prostate um does it have other by-products that can be um you know helpful for one side kind of um there are so many people who got it removed and are still okay fine okay okay i make sense yeah it’s not like uh okay there are certain organs which you cannot afford to remove exactly some organs if you remove it okay if you remove one kidney you can still live with it right you just need another kidney certain uterus in a woman if it’s removed it’s fine she can still maybe she might need to take some hormones uh that that should be there so same way prostrate if it is removed it’s okay it’s not like unless the fear of surgery and getting something removed from the person’s body apart from that psychological impact it should be fine okay but in general it’s a part that makes the masculine it contributes to the masculinity of a man and nobody is willing to get it out so easily if that can be holistically managed so that’s the idea and also the sexual functions could be impacted right um and so as you’re saying this like what would be you know an ayurvedic approach when uh you come into a discussion sorry when you when you speak to a patient who’s you know diagnosed by uh prostate cancer cancer right you know at which stage do you recommend and i know you say case by case basis but like how would you approach a person in stage one cancer uh and how would you approach someone in a stage for cancer for example so i always take opinions of senior oncologists who are willing to integrate holistic approach so if there are other aspects usually when they reach the stage of cancer it just happen you know 80 percent of it doesn’t show up in the beginning and people usually detect it quite late so that’s why detecting it early is the first best step than any anything else yeah so if detection is early then in some cases definitely a lot of it can be done but if you’re getting it detecting it quite late then things could go out of control and if the patient is strong then the best is going for a radiation or chemotherapy but if the patient is not so strong chemotherapy could be really harmful yeah so what uh my one of my teachers dr c.b mathews what he was saying was in some situations archetectomy which is removal of the testes that could stop the spread in a very fast way it could delay the spread this is one thing that he recommended and then taking a lot of micronutrient micronutrient-rich food getting into a healthy lifestyle and some of the ayurvedic medications that can that are like anti-aging these could be given to you know to handle the situation it’s like a palliative care but a much more palliative it’s like everybody is going to die at one point of time there is no escape from death yes but it’s like adding more uh life to the years that they have that’s the approach that can be done and if the cancer is quite severe serious then chemotherapy is the best way they have to go to an oncologist and get the chemotherapy or even radiation done or sometimes prostate needs to be removed at a much early if it’s a very early detection site but once it spreads to other parts then it’s out of control getting into healthy lifestyle and getting into the best emotional state which is going to be like fighting gravity at that point of time but they don’t have other choice from that right so that makes sense because like even even myself like i’ve experienced with family members who who are more resilient but who’ve been diagnosed with stage three cancer and managed to prolong their lives with just better lifestyle choices and dietary choices um more like the doctor would have the doctor prescribed six months more and then uh they managed to prolong by like eight years because of like you know better choices um and so like how does ayurveda approach in terms like nutrition uh lifestyle choices like um what are some common things that you know prostate cancer patients would have to kind of adapt in in their journey so it’s not like there is a specific lifestyle just for prostate cancer the specific i mean the healthy lifestyle is applicable to all and like we said before you know genetics and age can contribute to this genetics could contribute so the healthy lifestyle to some person could help them prevent getting breast cancer healthy lifestyle for someone could help prevent colon cancer the healthy lifestyle for someone else it could prevent from getting into prostate cancer so healthy lifestyle could be that is something that you can generalize but depending on the person and their genetic predisposition it could be preventing certain things so here when it comes to this prostate especially so if they have a tendency of too much mucus producing tendency in the body like for some people mucous production could be leading to bronchial asthma blocking their nose they could get constant allergies they say that in the morning when i get up i have a lot of mucus in my throat and this can happen so this prostate gland psa levels inflammation happening there it could be in another word there is a inflammation in that area which is also like mucus going up so when i say mucus it’s a very generalized term inflammation could also be considered to some extent lupus in ayurveda there is a particular word called as clayton actually means a kind of mucus diabetes is also a kind of clara because there is a mucus involved there it’s a kapha disease there’s too much of mucus load in the body allergies you know when they have running nose mucus blocking the nostril that’s also a kind of kapha problem so bringing down the excess kleda or mucous load in the body is one way that you can reverse to a great extent or delay the problem that is going to happen irrespective whether it’s prostrate or anything else because once the mucous load goes down the body’s channels are open and we can breathe better we can live better our energy flow is fantastic when the mucous load goes up goes high or there is a traffic block that happens in our body the natural flow is blocked right if you look at the word for pain in sanskrit it says rook and rook means block so whenever there is a block the flow of energy is not going to be smooth and that will create a lot of changes and these changes is what is coming to let us know as pain right so remove getting rid of the excess mucus load is one of the most important ways which means getting rid of excess sugar fried salty food too much of milk products because milk is mucus again sugars mucus again alcohol it will eat a lot of mucus production in the body there’s a lot of things that how do you live in a in the modern world and eliminate a lot of these uh factors that you just mentioned that’s what we mentioned from the beginning about the statistics avoidable environmental toxins coming from this avoidable yeah right that’s a tricky tricky adjustment but i guess if you’re in a situation where you have to you you you make the necessary changes right exactly yeah and so you say that like uh mucous dominant or mucus uh enhancing foods substances like would encourage i guess inflammation and maybe potentially encourage uh excessive growth cells in the body so for men i guess that would be uh it could be prostate cancer are there any other types of things that you know come to mind or maybe your own experience with the patients that you’ve come across um you mean the excess mucous not what else it could lead to no we need like other other things like excess mucus if there are there any other types of uh yes of course stress plays a very important role sleep plays a very important role and circadian rhythm uh surrendering to the circuit into some place i know a person who has such a healthy lifestyle this is what when you look from outside he doesn’t eat meat he doesn’t drink alcohol or smoke eats very good nutritious food but he travels a lot doesn’t sleep well and goes to different time zones and that impacted and that took a toll on his health right so routine helps to keep our body feel safe so when we go out of routine our body gets into a stress mode and it completely imbalances the normal hormone regulation that’s a really good point like how um you know stress like the the word you said is that routine makes our body feel safe and um and that is the aspect the environment environmental factor that you can work on it making it safe and so so doctor like as you your doctor vanished as you are um specializing in panchakarma how maybe we could get a bit of an introduction on what it is for our business and could you explain how that helps that could help in either preventing or recovering from from prostate cancer or just cancer in general so panzerkarma is five therapies that helps to eliminate unwanted toxins from our body so there are so many okay people ask why do we need to detox but we live in an environment where we are having abundance problems and scarcity you know our body is designed to live in scarcity our brain is designed to survive in scarcity but today we have created an environment where food is abundant the information that entertainment is abundant so we are having more abundance problems than scarcity problems so when you have abundance problems we need to refrain abstinence is one of the ways and also eliminating things that our body is having it in excess so last time when you heard somebody died or when was the last or when was ever time you heard somebody died because they didn’t get any food but we hear people died of cancer we hear people died of heart attack because these are issues of abundance we are consuming more than what we need and we are having a lifestyle that is not what is aligned with how the nature has designed our body so in such a situation panchakarma is something that helps to bring back your body to its normalcy the to alignment to how the nature has designed the body so it has five ways of getting rid of the toxins one is nasim where we use some special herbs or liquids or powders to insert to your nostril so this helps to remove the mucus load from your nose too and that is called as nasty the other one is through your mouth like you know when you drink something you don’t like you end up vomiting if you see some dogs when they’re not keeping well they’re going to eat the grass and they vomit and they feel good same way we are artificially creating an environment in the bodies and we give some special herbs so it creates like a nausea and you aim it vomit out all the toxins that you don’t need but this has to be done under proper strict supervision and this is not for everyone it is strictly on patient-to-patient cases and people with migraine if you ask they say that they get a nausea once they get the migraine and after they vomit they feel good so this is the way nature has designed so we are just creating the same we are using the same intelligent pattern of the body and we artificially creating that so that the mucus load in the body gets released and the other one is purgation where we clean the intestines where we give some special herbs it irritates the intestinal walls and where we flush out like we have a therapeutic diarrhea and we call it peritoneum the other one is the other one is uh anima there are two types of enema one is with oil and one is with them decoction and uh blood letting is also considered one among the five therapies because when you remove a little bit of blood up to 300 to 400 ml you know according to the world health organization if you’re healthy you can remove 450 ml of blood every three months but if you are not so healthy sometimes if your uric acid is high we cannot just eliminate it so blood living helps to release a little bit of it from the system so these are the five therapies and it’s not that we do all the five therapies when you come to a night with our retreat sometimes you just need two or three of them but doing this the body has to be prepared for that and after the cleaning you have to recover from that because it’s a stressful incident that’s happening right so doing these therapies after you’re diagnosed with cancer is not so easy and it’s quite rare that panchakarma can help in some cases yes it might help but this helps best when you do this uh so that you don’t end up getting uh end up getting into a situation like cancer in the first place so that’s one aspect that we can look at it because by doing panchakarma what’s happening is you’re reducing the inflammation your mucus load and unwanted toxins in the body we have even documented patients who had high levels of mercurial toxicity and arsenic because they were deep into seafood and they were feeling tired and when we did their blood test their arsenic levels and the mercury levels were very high and after 21 days of this therapy which included panchakarma and when we retested the blood the mercury levels and arsenic levels were completely on the normal but this is far away from getting it published in a research article so just because you got it you got to see this in few people doesn’t mean this is uh science worthy till it is proven in at least 100 to 200 people minimum but definitely uh so many patients they keep coming back saying that after they do this they feel so relieved relaxed more energy and their cravings are not there they get more work done in less time their sleep is much better they feel more light in the body and the pain thing is also not there and panchakarma cannot be done on a person who is having extreme anxiety or extreme depression at the same time they have a weak body they need to have a little bit of strength and willpower to undergo this process because it needs a lot of endurance power to go through this so it’s a thin line that we need to walk not everyone can do it and if there is no universal protocol this is how it has to be done in everyone it will be uh you know customized from person to person so by doing this what happens is the inflammation reduces the mucus load reduces so that your blood is purified so once that happens you don’t have to worry about such kind of a situation but apart from that your emotions also plain roll your sleep hygiene also playing role the food you that you have later on also plain role see you could hear many people saying they went through a divorce and later they got into they were diagnosed with cancer they had a financial distress and later they got diagnosed with cancer and you could relate after that incident that’s when they got cancer because of the emotional stress that could lead to high levels of cortisol that could lead to you know that could trigger unhealthy lifestyle and that and that ends up with things like cancer or some terminal diseases that’s not a rocket science to correlate that so when you do panchakarma what happens is every time you come and do this you disconnect from the world and when you are doing this process you tend to requesting what are my priorities should i just keep running behind something that is not giving me fulfillment and success and fulfillment can be two different things but if it comes in two if both of them comes together success without fulfillment it’s worse than failure but when you have both of them together that’s what makes life beautiful so it’s not just eliminating stuff it’s also eliminating unwanted stuff that you put into your mind it’s also a digital detox that happens at that period of time right and i mean i’m curious to know because you know when people come up a bunch of karma treatments for example for any any illness or and they come they come to a retreat or like a center right um how is it i guess uh how do they take that and then apply that in you know the world and the environment that they live in back in wherever they they live in right because a lot of times i i’m always wondering like when you when you go for these treatments yes they’re very effective and they they give you a reset so that you can start from somewhere new but when you go back to the familiar environment how how does that integration happen and like how do you encourage people to to take that those principles with them yes so some people you know because they are convinced even after doing such a treatment like panchakarma they’re gonna they will go back to their old lifestyle patterns so there’s no point doing panchakarma so for them i tell it’s like saying i know after taking shower my body is still going to get dirty so i’d rather not take a shower that’s a great analogy yeah it’s we once in a while we go and we do this so that we get reminded what it means to feel healthy many people don’t know what it means to feel what it feels like being healthy so that reference point the more we get in touch with we want to protect that feeling so then you know when somebody comes with you an option of eating more you say no i don’t want that because i want to protect this feeling i don’t want that instant gratification on the long term i’m not going to feel good so we start to relate and there is a statement when you have itchy skin itching is the greatest pleasure so you don’t understand what it means to have a healthy skin because eating is the only pleasure that you got so till then you know you need to have that reference point of what it means to be healthy so that you’re able to reach that stage so when you do a bunch of karma then your choices will change your routine will change because you want to keep up that feel-good factor so it’s like a jump start so that you can get into a healthy life so people say oh i feel so out of my life i would like to go back and you know connect with myself so that i could start a new chapter in my life where i’m healthy so in such a situation panchakarma is a great way to restart at what stage would be the best time to introduce matcha karma in in someone going through um prostate cancer or cancer in general the best is always you do it so that you don’t end up with the cancer in case you are pregnant in case you’re diagnosed with it you have to check for uh firefighting first what are the damage control and the crisis management that you need to do first emergency management is the first step the moment you’re diagnosed with it and then maybe let’s say a prostate removal is going to happen if that is done and if the cancer has not spread very lucky then in such a situation a mild panchakarma maybe after three to six months can be done so that the recovery is very quick but if it started spreading then panchakarma need not help what they need is more of a palliative care relaxing therapies getting more vitamins and some of the medications that could help to delay the spread of cancer that’s what can be okay oh sorry and when you were saying five uh you know firefighting uh are you referring to referring to them to the allopathic world having medication yeah i just wanted that to be clear okay so we fire fight the effect you let two or three months uh of its effect and then the recovery stage is where things like ayurveda and holistic approach can help right damn at the time of damage when you follow a holistic approach you don’t end up in in a stage where you need damage control and when you need damage control at that time holistic approach need not work you get it done first and then you work on how to not to get back to that stage again right so now you really see like where it’s a complimentary medicine that’s why it is a complimentary medicine right um it can support each other um and so i guess for people who are going through you know prostate cancer today um you know do you have any advice or like tips for them uh on how to navigate uh this this journey that they are on from an ayurvedic perspective and you know maybe your own life experience as well okay i mean uh first of all don’t take this as a universal prescription for everyone with that for sure high on high on vitamin c like amla aloe vera amla like the indian gooseberry or citrus fruits which has high vitamin c vitamin c is known to be very helpful there then products like ashwagandha that can help then one of the problems that they would have is urinating a lot at night that will disrupt their sleep and because of which they could uh not have a proper recovery the next morning so if they could meet i mean definitely i’m sure they might be visiting good urologists who would be prescribing them with diuretics so that you know they don’t have this issue so in such situations making sure the liquid intake is not so high after five o’clock so that they have a proper sleep is also an important part because good sleep will help their nervous system to relax and also to make sure that their recovery is very good and then definitely surrender to circadian rhythm emotional hygiene all of this and then depending on case to case some some of the ayurvedic medications including ashwagandha can be very helpful and ashwagandha is just one of the tip of the iceberg so that they understand what yeah and i think that the reason why you’re also being careful in in even discussing about this because in ayurveda and in most of those uh he traditional and um ancient healing systems is that each bodies are seeing and kept right categorized in different ways so that’s why you kind of touch upon the type of body or vata or which are again that’s why everyone is a unique kind of constitution and so the way you would prevent or approach um someone who is diagnosed with cancer even in that sense would be different yes how how is that different in the sense like say uh we could touch very briefly on the fact that you know you are say you are bitter or say you are vata and you have kapha producing kind of uh which is mucus and and how do you approach that um see everybody we all will have a genetic predisposition like for example if my parents had a body that has high heat generating tendencies there’s a high likely that i could also inherit that if my parents had a likelihood of eating heavy and they put on weight and then i could also have a genetic predisposition if i continue the same lifestyle i would also end up the same way so understanding what are your genetic predisposition that could lead to unhealthy stage if you don’t consciously take a deviation from that patterns that is the concept of dosha so prostrate we have a lot of correlation with kapha because it is producing seminal fluid which is actually kapha so when there is a tendency of producing too much kapha all the food that does not produce too much of mucus all the has to be incorporated and the foods that produces mucus has to be reduced this is one step so all kapha hara means reducing kapha or reducing mucus load or anti-mucus diet this is what you can follow is it fair to assume that cancer in general with different cancers because they’re producing cells and usually it’s because of mucus that it’s a kapha related disease no you know we cannot have a maybe there could be some correlation but it’s again very difficult to completely bridge the cause and effect there it could be a whole uh influencing factor right it could be okay and you could say right so it could be for example uh because of say heating like pita type of behaviors that enhance mucous production immunity is immunity is compromised their uh rest and recovery would have also been compromised and they may not be taking the right food that are rich with the micronutrients the body needs and all of that put together see if something is wrong with the fruit of a tree we just don’t go and fix that fruit we fix the root we fix make sure that enough water is given the environment around the tree is also nice and that is what is going to change in the end but if there is any infection maybe we might just stop off that part of the tree so that it can regrow if it is that situation so it’s that’s what the holistic approach is yeah that’s a really nice analogy again many good analogies in this conversation today um so i guess that really does sum up like you know our conversation today and and what we want to kind of put out there for our listeners and because people cancer is really touchy subject right and so it’s just like a gateway for them to be aware and to understand that there are ways to approach it without um because everyone’s gonna freak out if they hear the word if they’re diagnosed you know god forbid but you know it happens right and so um this is just a pathway for them to figure out there’s this alternative medicine that could support them and you know different stages and and in what ways different ways um and so and you also gave your key takeaways to our listeners you know uh with the herbs and vitamins uh of course it’s a generalization for general immunity as well but these are good factors to to incorporate um yeah and i think that also a nice aspect and i i i hope listeners can take away this is that usually when you know you you are diagnosed there are the first questions that you are kind of asked is like why why did it happen to me and then um that’s like the the self aspect of it but um what i i really appreciated about holistic healing is that it provides it goes to the root and so when you go to the root it’s not um as you explain where you can have different constitution predispositions etc and so when you start researching those different elements it helps accept why uh you know you’ve gone to to this situation and and now it’s that kind of how do we move forward and so and and it also allows to give you ways to move forward so i’m i’m very happy of our conversation today with uh dr vinesh uh when we are giving different elements for people to to take with them if they are even for family members that are going that are having you know um experiencing this it’s it’s a good tool to fall back on so thank you for that welcome welcome and um as we always round up our conversations we go through our rapid fire questions uh and so we have the first question is usually uh what is the worst health advice that you’ve ever received um okay all calories are the same oh that’s it that’s true yeah i’ve heard that too all right and our second one is if there was one habit we should all adopt what would it be surrendering to circadian rhythm i should take this advice god okay no i was like if you were to explain slightly further because i just uh would like to understand what he means exactly behind that so it’s like going to bed uh by not later than 10 30 11 ish and waking up by six o’clock so we should all do that yeah and then daytime be active and having a routine with your eating and routine with your sleeping time sticking to that yeah providing that safe environment so that your body yeah i i just you know this is the one thing that i really uh kept in mind like give as much uh components for your body to make you feel safe um and tasha the last question yeah and the last question would be if you had to put a song or a soundtrack to your life right now what would it be well after this corporate with what is happening don’t worry be happy yeah i think that should be everybody’s theme song actually yeah that’s a good one thank you for that well thank you dr vignesh for enlightening us and sharing your wisdom and being on our show today thank you thank you

Vignesh Devraj | Ep #29 | Complementary Approach to Prostate Cancer using Ayurveda

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