From traditional Ayurvedic medicine to modern medicine: identification of therapeutic targets for suppression of inflammation and cancer

Expert Opin Ther Targets. 2006 Feb;10(1):87-118. doi: 10.1517/14728222.10.1.87.


Cancer is a hyperproliferative disorder that involves transformation, dysregulation of apoptosis, proliferation, invasion, angiogenesis and metastasis. Extensive research during the last 30 years has revealed much about the biology of cancer. Drugs used to treat most cancers are those that can block cell signalling, including growth factor signalling (e.g., epidermal growth factor); prostaglandin production (e.g., COX-2); inflammation (e.g., inflammatory cytokines: NF-kappaB, TNF, IL-1, IL-6, chemokines); drug resistance gene products (e.g., multi-drug resistance); cell cycle proteins (e.g., cyclin D1 and cyclin E); angiogenesis (e.g., vascular endothelial growth factor); invasion (e.g., matrix metalloproteinases); antiapoptosis (e.g., bcl-2, bcl-X(L), XIAP, survivin, FLIP); and cellular proliferation (e.g., c-myc, AP-1, growth factors). Numerous reports have suggested that Ayurvedic plants and their components mediate their effects by modulating several of these recently identified therapeutic targets. However, Ayurvedic medicine requires rediscovery in light of our current knowledge of allopathic (modern) medicine. The focus of this review is to elucidate the Ayurvedic concept of cancer, including its classification, causes, pathogenesis and prevention; surgical removal of tumours; herbal remedies; dietary modifications; and spiritual treatments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / chemistry
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use*
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Delivery Systems / methods*
  • Humans
  • Medicine, Ayurvedic*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic