Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS) refers to a group of blood disorders resulting from a dysfunction in the bone marrow. This causes ineffective blood production resulting in symptoms such as anemia, fatigue, recurrent fever, heart disease, and bleeding from different parts of the body. A reduction in the immune response of the body can result in recurrent infections which may have a fatal outcome. In the late or severe stage of the disease, the patient may suffer from shock and serious secondary infection which may cause death. When there is no known cause of the disease, it is known as primary MDS. This condition is known as secondary when it results from known causes such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, viral infection, exposure to chemicals, and having a genetic disposition to the disease.
Patients suffering from MDS are conservatively treated with packed cell transfusions which temporarily alleviate the situation; however, this can result in a buildup of excess iron in the body and result in long-term complications over time. The administration of medicines like ATG can result in improvement in about 30-60 percent cases; however the response is unpredictable and wanes over time, in addition to the treatment being prohibitively costly. In this scenario, treatment with Ayurvedic herbal medicines can be quite safe and effective in the long run. It is important to initiate treatment at the earliest in order to get maximum therapeutic benefit from treatment and a long-term remission or cure.
MDS is different from aplastic anemia in that, in addition to a lack of red blood cells and white blood cells, there are morphological abnormalities in the cells. The greater the percentage of abnormalities in the cells, the poorer is the overall long-term prognosis in affected individuals. Ayurvedic herbal treatment is focused on treating the bone marrow so as to help generate healthy white and red cells. Treatment consists of herbal and herbomineral medicines which act on the bone marrow and form the mainstay of treatment; these need to be given in high doses and for prolonged periods. Herbal medicines can be safely given for prolonged periods without any major adverse effects and are also quite economical in the long run. Medicines can be given orally in the form of tablets, and are overall quite easy to administer.
Panchkarma treatment, which forms the mainstay of treatment for serious medical conditions, is quite effective in the management of MDS as a supplementary treatment modality. Use of Panchkarma procedures helps in promoting a faster response, reduced treatment time, as well as lesser doses of required medicines. A special Panchkarma procedure known as basti (medical enema) is used very successfully in the management of various disorders. A specialized form of basti known as Tikta Ksheer Basti is utilised in MDS treatment. This consists of a series of courses of administration of milk treated with herbs. This is prepared by boiling milk with different bitter herbs which include mainly Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia). About 100 ml of this medicated milk is administered as enema. This procedure is quite simple and can be safely given to patients of old age too without any risk of side-effects or complications.
Depending upon the severity of the condition, treatment for MDS needs to be given for periods ranging from 6 to 9 months. Complications like acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) are quite well-known in patients suffering from MDS. Such complications too can be treated successfully with Ayurvedic herbal medication and Panchkarma treatment. It is important to aggressively treat this disease so as to obtain an early remission and prevent a relapse. After this, treatment can be gradually tapered over several months. Additionally, it is also important to monitor the patient for the next few years so as to detect a relapse of the condition. Relapses can be treated with short booster doses of treatment ranging from two to three months or more.
Serious medical conditions like MDS can be successfully and efficiently managed with the help of Ayurvedic herbal treatment and Panchkarma procedures. Ayurveda thus has a significant role to play in the management of MDS.