Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is the most common soft tissue sarcoma in children. It is believed to arise from primitive muscle cells. The tumor can occur anywhere in the body except bones; the most common sites being the head and neck, extremities and the genitourinary tract. The cause of this condition is unknown, though several genetic syndromes and environmental factors are known to increase the prevalence of this disease. RMS usually manifests as an expanding mass; symptoms depend on the location of the tumor including pain, breathlessness, anemia and disturbed organ function. Treatment of RMS involves a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
The Ayurvedic treatment of RMS is aimed at treating the tumor and preventing its spread to other parts of the body. Since this is a tumor occurring predominantly in children, herbal medicines are preferred for treatment purposes. Medicines which act on the muscle tissue and regulate the metabolism of muscles are used in this condition. These include Amalaki (Emblica officinalis), Haritaki (Terminalia chebula), Behada (Terminalia bellerica), Vishwa (Zinziber officinalis), Marich (Piper nigrum), Pippali (Piper longum), Nimba (Azadirachta indica), Patol (Tricosanthe dioica), Draksha (Vitis vinifera), Musta (Cyperus rotundus), Indrayav (Holarrhina antidysentrica) and Guggulu (Commiphora mukul). Medicines like Triphala-Guggulu, Medohar-Guggulu, Kanchnaar-Guggulu, Maha-Manjishthadi-Qadha, Guduchyadi-Qadha and Chandra-Prabha-Vati are used both to reduce the tumor size and to prevent its spread.
Medicines like Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus), Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Bala (Sida cordifolia), Naagbala (Grewia hirsuta), Yashtimadhuk (Glycerrhiza glabra), Pippali, Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum), Laghu-Malini-Vasant and Madhu-Malini-Vasant are used to improve the immune status of the body and help reduce the tumor. Medicines like Abhrak-Bhasma, Tamra-Bhasma, Suvarna-Malini-Vasant and Heerak-Bhasma can also be used in very small doses. In addition, medicines can be given to reduce or prevent the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. These medicines include Vishwa, Musta, Shankh-Bhasma, Laghu-Sutshekhar-Ras, Kutaj-Parpati, Manjishtha (Rubia cordifolia), Saariva (Hemidesmus indicus) and Laxadi-Guggulu.
Ayurvedic medicines can thus be given as additional therapy to conventional treatment at any stage of the treatment, to help improve the response and improve overall survival. All such patients should be under the regular care and supervision of a Pediatric Oncology team.