Indian J Palliat Care Home 

Year : 2017  |  Volume : 23  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 219--220

Integrating AYUSH into palliative care

Naveen Salins 
 Editor, Indian Journal of Palliative Care, Department of Palliative Medicine, Tata Memorial Centre, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Correspondence Address:
Naveen Salins
Department of Palliative Medicine, Tata Memorial Centre, Mumbai - 400 012, Maharashtra

How to cite this article:
Salins N. Integrating AYUSH into palliative care.Indian J Palliat Care 2017;23:219-220

How to cite this URL:
Salins N. Integrating AYUSH into palliative care. Indian J Palliat Care [serial online] 2017 [cited 2020 Apr 1 ];23:219-220
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Full Text

Marcia Angell in an editorial published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1998 stated “There cannot be two kinds of medicine — conventional and alternative. There is only medicine that has been adequately tested and medicine that has not, medicine that works and medicine that may or may not work. Once a treatment has been tested rigorously, it no longer matters whether it was considered alternative at the outset.”[1] Fontanarosa in the same year published an article in the Journal of American Medical Association titled Alternative Medicine Meets Science where the author states “Whether a therapeutic practice is 'Eastern' or 'Western,' is unconventional or mainstream, or involves mind-body techniques or molecular genetics is largely irrelevant except for the historical purposes and cultural interest. As believers in science and evidence, we must focus on fundamental issues—namely, the patient, the target disease or condition, the proposed or practiced treatment, and the need for convincing data on the safety and therapeutic efficacy.”[2]

In the year 2009, apex cancer institutions of the world, the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center jointly published evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for integrating complementary and alternative medicine in cancer care. Mind–body techniques like yoga therapy is recommended as Grade 1B recommendation, i.e., the treatment is strongly recommended and the benefits of the treatment clearly outweigh the risks and burden.[3] The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, a subdivision of the United States Department of Health and Human Services as of June 2017, has provided link to 9719 published articles in the peer-reviewed indexed medical journals on the role of complementary and alternative medicine. Cochrane database considered to be the highest level of evidence in the health care has published 43 systematic reviews on yoga. Cochrane reviews in patients with cancer suggest that yoga therapy improves health-related quality of life, reduces fatigue and sleep disturbances, and improves depression and anxiety.[4] In patients with hematological malignancies, yoga therapy is known to improve sleep and reduces anxiety.[5]

In the palliative care setting, a meta-analysis on the effects of yoga on the psychological health, quality of life, and physical health of patients with advanced cancer showed that the yoga groups compared to wait-list control groups or supportive therapy groups showed improvements in psychological health: anxiety, depression, distress, and stress.[6] A meta-analysis on the effectiveness of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program like yoga therapy has showed improvement in anxiety and distress.[7] In patients with terminal illness, MBSR interventions reduced preparatory grief, anxiety, and depression.[8] Another systematic review and meta-analysis on physical and psychosocial benefits of yoga in cancer patients and survivors showed that yoga therapies improve distress, anxiety, and depression, reduce fatigue, and improve general quality of life, emotional function, social function, and functional well-being.[9]

There is a national level initiative by the Government of India to integrate AYUSH into mainstream medicine, and the focus of this year by the Government is on cancer. As we have just celebrated the International Yoga Day on June 21st, the IJPC would like to bring out series of articles on the effectiveness of yoga interventions in cancer and palliative care setting. Hopefully, this will broaden our horizons from a pure Western reductionist biomedicine to an integrated more culturally acceptable Indian system of medicine in chronic and life-limiting illness management.


1Angell M, Kassirer JP. Alternative medicine – The risks of untested and unregulated remedies. N Engl J Med 1998;339:839-41.
2Fontanarosa PB, Lundberg GD. Alternative medicine meets science. JAMA 1998;280:1618-9.
3Deng GE, Frenkel M, Cohen L, Cassileth BR, Abrams DI, Capodice JL, et al. Evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for integrative oncology: Complementary therapies and botanicals. J Soc Integr Oncol 2009;7:85-120.
4Cramer H, Lauche R, Klose P, Lange S, Langhorst J, Dobos GJ. Yoga for improving health-related quality of life, mental health and cancer-related symptoms in women diagnosed with breast cancer. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2017;1:CD010802.
5Felbel S, Meerpohl JJ, Monsef I, Engert A, Skoetz N. Yoga in addition to standard care for patients with haematological malignancies. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2014;6:CD010146.
6Lin KY, Hu YT, Chang KJ, Lin HF, Tsauo JY. Effects of yoga on psychological health, quality of life, and physical health of patients with cancer: A meta-analysis. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med 2011;2011:659876.
7Lengacher CA, Kip KE, Barta M, Post-White J, Jacobsen PB, Groer M, et al. A pilot study evaluating the effect of mindfulness-based stress reduction on psychological status, physical status, salivary cortisol, and interleukin-6 among advanced-stage cancer patients and their caregivers. J Holist Nurs 2012;30:170-85.
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9Buffart LM, van Uffelen JG, Riphagen II, Brug J, van Mechelen W, Brown WJ, et al. Physical and psychosocial benefits of yoga in cancer patients and survivors, a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. BMC Cancer 2012;12:559.