Ayurvedic Herbs and Cancer | Dr Virender Sodhi MD (AYURVED) ND & Ryan Sternagel

Dr Virender Sodhi was the first Ayurvedic and Naturopathic physician in the United States. From a young age, Dr. Sodhi knew he wanted to be a physician. This was a kid who would visit the village doctor and pretend he was ill so that he could take the prescribed medicine home, label it and add it to his growing “medicine cabinet”. 

After moving to the United States, Dr Sodhi completed his ND degree at Bastyr University, Washington in 1988. The following year he founded the Ayurvedic and Naturopathic Clinic that he still practices at today. 

It wasn’t until many years later, after dealing with cancer in his family, that Dr Sodhi turned his professional focus to oncology. Dr Sodhi completed a fellowship in Integrative Oncology with Dr. Mark Rosenberg in 2012 and a steady stream of cancer patients followed. Today he helps patients from around the globe using traditional Ayurvedic principles and integrative treatment protocols. 

***Resources Mentioned***

The Ayurvedic & Naturopathic Medical Clinic

The Life of Jesus in India
Ayush Herbs

Livit 2

Bacopa monnieri


Boswellia Serreta – Boswelya Plus



Gotu Kola – Ayu-Dep by Ayush Herbs


In This Episode:

I’m really excited about this episode! I’ve interviewed a lot of different health professionals about cancer over the years but this is the first time I’ll be exploring Ayurveda.

Ayurvedic medicine is the primary care model for hundreds of millions of people in India. Dr Sodhi talks me through what Ayurveda is and what makes it different from other Eastern medicine practices. We talk about some of the medicinal herbs used in Ayurvedic medicine – particularly the ones with anti-cancer properties, and how they can help patients as anti-cancer protocols and as integrative therapies alongside other alternative and/or conventional cancer treatments. Plus we’ll cover off where to find the best quality Ayurvedic herbs. Enjoy!

Can you start with telling us what Ayurveda is?

  • Ayurveda is thousands of years old. Deep-seated in Indian culture
  • The ayurvedic philosophy to good health is to live in harmony with and follow the laws of nature
  • Cancer is the prime example of what happens when we stray away from mother nature

How did you get into medicine and in particular cancer?

  • Born and raised in small rural village in Himalayas 
  • His father was a school principal with a keen interest in medicine 
  • Father taught him about plants and herbs and their medicinal properties
  • Began collected herbs and medicines. Even feigned illness to his doctor so he could add what was prescribed to his collection
  • When his father died of lung cancer, Dr Sodhi vowed to work in oncology. Didn’t happen until his sister was diagnosed with breast cancer years later
  • Completed his fellowship in Florida with integrative oncologist Dr Mark Rosenburg
  • Cancer patients started pouring in

Why is there such an emphasis on herbs in Eastern medicine?

  • Indian culture is very old and advanced in thinking
  • Historically India was the learning academy for the world
  • The Life of Jesus in India (YouTube video) – did Jesus go to India during the ‘missing years’ before return to Jerusalem?
  • Consider the behaviour of animals – they look, sniff, taste and if they like it they eat it. We need to use our senses in the same way
  • Close connection with mother nature is part of Indian culture
  • Native American culture is rich in herbology
  • Wild food foraging

How is Ayurveda different from other practices?

  • Mental, emotional, spiritual, physical – Ayurveda focuses on all these aspects
  • Cancer patients often have mental or emotional issues
  • Cancer is not one disease, group of many diseases
  • Most diseases are a result of lifestyle
    • Our food chain is contaminated, no safety data on chemicals in our environment
    • We need to drive change by not purchasing these products 
    • Pesticides killing our gut microbiome

Do you provide the mental and emotional support?

  • Assess and provide tools but refers to others for ongoing support
  • Changing thought processes is key to long term health
  • We must create balance every day 

What Ayervadic herbs would people be familiar with?

  • Turmeric and curcumin – helps with inflammation and changes gene behavior
  • Boswellia Serreta (Frankincense) – anti-inflammatory. Beneficial for neuroblastoma, bone cancers and sacommas
  • Ashwagandha – adaptogen that helps the body balance itself. Anti-angiogenic effect – restricts blood supply to tumors
  • Natural compounds have DNA and can communicate with the body. Synthetic drugs cannot 
  • Natural compounds support the immune system
  • Immunotherapy gaining popularity 
  • Neem – antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral. Creates autophagy in cancer cells (cell starves)
  • The immune system has the tools to fight cancer cells if it is working properly

How is your turmeric product different

  • Turmeric oils are not very bioavailable unless you add fat
  • Golden milk is a drink with milk and turmeric
  • Coconut milk contains medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) that help keep sugar away from cancer cells and make it more bioavailable
  • CoCurcumin uses MCTs to significantly improve the bioavailability of curcumin. CoQ10 is added to support cardiovascular and inflammatory function.  Trikatu, a traditional Ayurvedic combination of piperine from black pepper is also added to enhance turmeric absorption.
  • Metronomic approach to chemotherapy (micro / low dosing) is becoming more popular

How do you design an anti-cancer herbal protocol?

  • Ongoing learning process
  • Every disease starts with the mind
  • Looks at the whole picture 
  • Food, digestion. Chew your food, eat mindfully, eat nutrient dense not calorie dense food
  • We want quick fixes when it comes to our health, but never the answer
  • Paleo dieters seem to have forgotten the gathering part from our hunter gather past
    • Hunting was exercise
    • Animals farm raised – changes composition of meat and fat
    • Portions too large

What are other go-to herbs for cancer?

Integrative use of Ayurveda with chemo

  • Amla protects the heart
  • Use ashwagandha alongside cyclophosphamide 
  • Curcumin reduces side effects of chemotherapy 
  • Livit-2 is a preparation of herbs that support the liver 
  • In 12 years in oncology Dr Sodhi has not seen issues with combining the majority of herbs with chemotherapy

Where do you go to get herbs?

  • Need the best quality 
  • Dr Sodhi grows and extracts himself
  • Recommends +Metagenics, Xymogen
  • Watch out for heavy metals in herbs
  • Dr Sodhi’s herbal company – Ayush Herbs

Follow Dr Sodhi

The Ayurvedic & Naturopathic Medical Clinic

If you liked this episode, check out:

The World’s Longest Living Cultures with Lowest Cancer Rates – What Can We Learn?: Jason Prall

If you have a question or comment about this episode let us know below!!