Can Ayurveda Treatment Help with Lipomas?

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

Lipomas are typically treated by surgery, if they are removed at all. But before considering surgical removal, some people may turn to natural remedies.

Ayurveda — an ancient Indian form of holistic medicine — offers several suggestions for dealing with lipomas. We’ll discuss whether these techniques are safe and their potential effectiveness.

What is Ayurveda?

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Ayurveda is an ancient form of natural, holistic healthcare. Developed more than 3,000 years ago in India, Ayurveda translates to “knowledge of life.”

The basis of Ayruveda is that everything in the body is interconnected with both the physical composition of the body (prakriti) and life forces (doshas).

Ayurveda treatments, like diets, focus on purification. They aim to create harmony in your body to address both physical and mental imbalances that may lead to illness or chronic conditions.

Many Ayurveda treatments begin with a purification process, followed by practices that may include:

  • herbal medicine
  • massage therapy
  • yoga
  • meditation

Does research support using Ayurveda techniques for treating lipoma?

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While Ayurveda is considered a type of formal medical care in India, there’s also a strict training process there. In the United States, there are no national standards or licensing requirements to practice Ayurvedic medicine.

Very few clinical trials have been conducted on Ayurveda, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, though the practice is mentioned in many medical journals.

In the United States and throughout much of Western medicine, Ayurveda is considered a complementary therapy meant to be used alongside traditional. In this way, it’s similar to traditional Chinese, naturopathic, and homeopathic medicines.

Despite the lack of clinical trials and licensed practitioners, more than 240,000 American adults use Ayurveda. People who choose this therapy may be interested in a more natural and holistic approach to healthcare.

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However, it’s not recommended in the United States that Ayurveda or any other alternative therapies be used to replace standard medical care for serious concerns.

Ayurvedic treatments for lipomas

Lipomas are soft, benign tumors that are often painless and made up of soft or fatty tissue. They’re a common skin issue that may be viewed as cosmetic.

In Ayurveda, small tumors like lipomas are known as granthi (knots). According to a 2016 case study, Ayurvedic recommendations for treatment include:

  • herbal medications or ointments
  • excision

While these treatments are part of Ayurvedic therapy, it’s important to keep in mind that there’s no scientific evidence to support their use for lipomas.

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One of the treatments used in Ayurveda is the herbal remedy Triphala, a combination of:

  • Indian gooseberry
  • black myrobalan
  • belleric myrobalan

This compound is known to have fat-reducing properties and has been found in a 2012 animal study to reduce fat and cholesterol levels. Since lipomas are believed to form as a result of an overgrowth of fat cells, this treatment and similar compounds used in Ayurvedic medicine seek to address the cause of these tumors.

However, it should be noted that the fat cells that make up lipomas are a different type of fat cells unaffected by weight loss, fat reduction, or lower cholesterol levels.

In some cases, Ayurveda does recommend excision, or the cutting out of the lipoma. This similar to the surgical removal methods used in Western medicine.

Risks to note
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While there may not be recommendations against using Ayruvedic treatments in the United States, they are suggested only as a complementary therapy to standard care. Some concerns with Ayurveda include:

  • risk of delaying urgent medical treatment
  • toxicity of certain medication compounds
  • lack of regulation on providers and practices

If you’re interested in trying Ayurveda as a complementary therapy, be sure to tell a healthcare professional exactly what therapies you are using.

When to seek medical care

While lipomas are often painless, harmless growths, this isn’t always the case. It can be difficult to accurately diagnose a growth under your skin without removing it for inspection — or at least taking a biopsy. A biopsy is a procedure where a healthcare professional removes a piece of tissue and sends it to a lab to be examined.

There’s a risk that what you think is a harmless lipoma could actually be a more serious growth or tumor.

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You should seek medical care as soon as possible if your growth:

  • has color changes in the skin around it
  • becomes warm or hot
  • changes in size
  • changes in color
  • increases in density or hardness
  • causes increased pain

The bottom line

Lipomas are mostly harmless growths that usually only pose a cosmetic concern. There is little data on alternative medicine strategies like Ayurveda to treat your lipoma.

Ayurveda practices can’t replace standard care for lipomas, but they may act as a complementary therapy.

Discuss any plans for trying alternative medicine with your doctor. They can also make sure your lipoma isn’t something more serious so that you don’t delay standard care, if needed.

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