In the last 25 years, the burden of cancer in India has increased by 200 percent killing 0.7 ml (in 2018). The National Sample Survey (NSS, 75th round of 2017–18) covering 1200 cancer patients indicated that mean cancer care expenditure was Rs 1,16,218, ranging from Rs. 72,092 in Government hospital to Rs. 1,41,774 in private hospital. Thus, an average Rs. 1.16 lakhs cancer care expenditure includes expenses on doctors, consultancy, medicines, bed charges, diagnostic test, blood transfusions, oxygen supplementation which form 90% of the total followed by transportation, food expenses treated as non-medical expenses forming the remaining 10%.
Among the different types of cancer deaths in India, in 2017, the lung cancer topped followed by stomach, breast, colon, oral cavity, cervical cancer and so on (Fig below).
Simarouba glauca at UAS Bengaluru
While conventional medicinal systems such as allopathy are the dominant ones approached by cancer patients, phytomedicines too are playing a crucial role in cancer cure. Among several phytomedicines the dominant one is that of Simarouba glauca pioneered by Botany Prof Shyamasundar Joshi and Prof Shantha Joshi of the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bengaluru, is becoming popular among cancer patients of various stages. Professor Joshi and Professor Joshi took great interest in locating the plant material, in its propagation in GKVK campus as well as in curing cancer patients of various types using the extract of the plant having identified the anti – cancer, viral, bacterial, protozoal properties.
More than 40 patents granted to medicinal properties of Simarouba glauca
Several studies have already confirmed the potential property of Simarouba glauca as a resource for the discovery of novel antioxidant and anticancer agents. Phytochemicals in Simarouba namely GLAUCARUBINONE has already been granted 4 US patents for its use in curing cancer, CANTHIN-6-ONE has been granted US patent for its use in curing extensive cancer. Totally 40 patents (mostly US) have already been granted to the phytomedicinal properties of Simarouba glauca. Three compounds extracted from Simarouba namely 2-hydroxy canthin-6-one, Tricaproin and Scopoletin have already been found to exhibit cytotoxicity and inhibition of Inhibition of Insulin regulated aminopeptidase.
Even before the grant of these patents, Professor Joshi couple have researched and found the phytomedicinal properties and have records of having cured the cancer of various types. With the record of anecdotal experiences of cancer patients world over, they have been serving as great source of inspiration and hope especially not only for the poor and the downtrodden but also for several others who have not found any cure or care for cancer in the conventional medicinal system.
Why are still patients running to conventional system for cancer care
It is crucial to know, despite the answers in alternative systems of medicine, why are still cancer patients running to conventional (allopathic) system for care and cure. One of the reasons with respect to any phytomedicine is the clinical trials which are coming in the way of deductive logic in prescription. However, with respect to Simarouba glauca, even clinical trials are on the way and there are several research articles indicating the success of the plant in curing cancer.
Disability adjusted life years for cancer in India
The burden of a disease is measured with DALY (Disability adjusted life year) as a combined indicator of “years of life lived with disabilities (YLD)” and “years of life lost from premature death (YLL)” . The DALYs for 2016 for males was 3,021,708 and for females was 3,882,649. The highest DALYs among males was due to cancer of lung and oesophagus, while that for females was due to cancer of breast and cervix. As the premature mortality is the major contributor to disease burden, the YLL formed 70% of the DALYs. This calls for prophylactic measures and Simarouba glauca can play a significant role in prophylactic care.
Health economics of Simarouba glauca for cancer cure
Simarouba is an invaluable medicinal plant. The cost of cancer care and cure using Simarouba glauca phytomedicine is incomparable in relation to the prohibitive costs of cancer care and cure in the conventional system. The mental agony, trauma, endurance and loss in physical appearance due to chemotherapy and radiation on the one hand along with the prohibitive costs running to several lakhs of Rupees virtually render the patients and the prospective patients down and scary. A comparison of the costs of cancer care and cure between the conventional systems and Simarouba glauca, indicates that if it costs Rs. One lakh towards cancer care and cure in conventional system of medicine, it costs less than 10 percent of this in the Simarouba glauca phytomedicine system. Even with the colossal costs of treatment with conventional medicine, the probability of success is not proportionately great compared and coupled with the series of associated post treatment / operative illnesses, increasing the DALYs, it is crucial for at least the educated cancer patients to weigh the pros and cons of conventional system with phytomedicine treatment of Simarouba glauca and reduce the physical and psychological drudgery and increase the confidence in life by endurance by switching to the phytomedicine wherever possible on a voluntary basis.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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