Medicinal plants used in cancer treatment: A survey conducted among traditional Ayurveda medical practitioners in Sri Lanka
Majority of deaths worldwide have been caused by noncommunicable diseases, with cancer as the second leading cause. Plant-based cures have become increasingly popular because current synthetic pharmaceuticals and other medications have demonstrated severe side effects, leading to less patient compliance and treatment failure. Furthermore, for most cancer types, there is no permanent cure. Sri Lankan traditional practitioners employ natural plant remedies to treat and cure malignancies, drawing on a long history of Ayurveda treatments and ancestral wisdom. These practitioners use different extraction processes, different parts of the same plant, and different modes of administration of the same herb. This descriptive cross-sectional study identifies commonly utilized botanicals with anticancer properties by traditional ayurvedic practitioners in Sri Lanka. The snowball approach and purposive sampling were used to select medical practitioners for this study. The survey was conducted among 18 traditional ayurvedic practitioners, and from the survey, 120 plants that the practitioners used for cancer therapy were identified. Of those 120 plants, the repetitive plants were shortlisted for ten plants. The most commonly used plants identified in this survey were Flueggea leucopyrus, Curcuma longa, Aegle marmelos, Abrus precatorius, Phyllanthus emblica, Zingiber officinale, Annona muricata, Aloe vera, Manihot esculenta, and Solanum melongena. Most medicinal plants used for cancer treatment were from the family Fabaceae.