Ginseng can help relieve fatigue in patients with cancer, according to new study. The study findings will be presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s annual meeting.
Researchers studied 364 people at 40 different community medical centers over two months. Some were being treated or had completed treatment for cancer. Nearly sixty percent of those participants had breast cancer.
Ginseng is already popular in traditional Chinese medicine as a natural energy booster and thought to be an anti-inflammatory.
Each day, participants received a placebo or 2,000 milligrams of ginseng capsules containing pure, ground American ginseng root. Researcher Debra Barton, Ph.D., of the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center explained why pure ginseng root was needed, “Off-the-shelf ginseng is sometimes processed using ethanol, which can give it estrogen-like properties that may be harmful to breast cancer patients. The label should read that it is pure ground root of ginseng as opposed to an extraction.”
There was little improvement at the four week mark, but at eight weeks, researchers saw a 20-point improvement with fatigue cancer patients. Dr. Barton says, “After eight weeks, we saw a 20-point improvement in fatigue in cancer patients, measured on a 100-point, standardized fatigue scale. The herb had no apparent side effects.”
According to MedPageToday, the most common ginseng side effects reported over the 8 weeks were about 5 percent rate of nausea compared to that with about 4 percent in the people taking a placebo. Roughly 4 percent of those taking ginseng had loose stool verses 3 percent with placebo. Vomiting was also reported in the study by 1 – 2 percent of participants taking ginseng.
“Cancer is a prolonged chronic stress experience and the effects can last 10 years beyond diagnosis and treatment. If we can help the body be better modulated throughout treatment with the use of ginseng, we may be able to prevent severe long-term fatigue,” Dr. Barton explained.
Sriram Yennu MD, MS, of the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston says, “Still I would not say this is a standard therapy yet. We need further studies to confirm the safety.”
Ginseng Benefits Cancer Fatigue
For thousands of years, practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine have used the herb ginseng to increase energy, endurance and brain power. Research shows that, in many cases, the herb may help. Researchers at Mayo Clinic led a study on ginseng and found it may also help fight fatigue in cancer patients.