Faced with advanced breast cancer, hundreds of women from around the world have sought treatment from Yeshi Dhonden, one of the foremost living authorities on Tibetan medicine who was the Dalai Lama's personal physician for two decades.
Now, in an unprecedented clinical trial, Dhonden and breast cancer experts at the University of California, San Francisco are putting traditional Tibetan medicine to the test as the sole therapy for advanced breast cancer.
"This will be a preliminary study that will look for changes in the size of women's tumors," said Debu Tripathy, MD, director of clinical research at the UC San Francisco Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center. "The investigational therapy will be individualized to a certain extent, with Dr. Dhonden choosing one of seven Formula for each woman based on his diagnosis and assessment."
UCSF is currently recruiting women for the Tibetan medicine trial, which is approved by the UCSF institutional review board and Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The state of California's Breast Cancer Research Program (BCRP) issued Tripathy a $50,000 grant to develop the study.
To date, no trials have been conducted on a sufficient scale and with the use of rigorous scientific methodologies to fully assess Tibetan medicine and diagnosis. Although Dhonden has treated an estimated 3,000 women with breast cancer during the past 20 years, the responses and clinical benefits are unknown because formal record keeping is not standard in Tibetan medicine.
Dhonden, who is based in Dharamsala, India, visits San Francisco once every four
to six months to chart the progress of the women in the one-year trial. Study
participants are prohibited from receiving any other treatments while enrolled
in the trial, including both conventional and unconventional therapies. All
patients will be regularly monitored with standard Western techniques including
physical examinations, tomography scans and blood and liver function tests.
Contact: Abby Sinnott
University of California - San Francisco