Ginseng could relieve cancer-related fatigue

By Philippa Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Ginseng may help patients suffering from cancer-related fatigue,
according to researchers based at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, US.

Researchers with the North Central Cancer Treatment Group (NCCTG) have suggested that patients who take high doses of a form of American ginseng suffer less from fatigue that their peers. Many cancer patients face extreme fatigue after diagnosis and during treatment and getting more sleep or rest often does not relieve the problem. "We hope that Wisconsin ginseng may offer us a much-needed treatment to improve our patients' quality of life, and we look forward to further evaluation,"​ said Debra Barton, the study's lead researcher. The scientists enrolled 282 patients in a randomized, placebo-controlled trial, whereby different groups received daily doses of Wisconsin ginseng of 750, 1,000 and 2,000 milligrams respectively. Patients receiving the placebo and the lowest dose of ginseng reported very little improvement in fatigue or other areas of physical or psychological well-being, said the researchers. But those receiving the larger doses showed improvements in overall energy levels and reported higher vitality levels and less fatigue. They also reported an improvement in overall mental, physical, spiritual and emotional well-being. NutraIngredients.com has not seen the full data. Despite the positive results, Barton said she would like to carry out further research before advising patients to supplement their diet with ginseng. "While results were promising, we have more research to conduct,"​ she affirmed. "And besides, it's just not a good idea to grab the nearest bottle on the supermarket shelf - consumers need to research the company and the product."​ Her team hopes to begin a clinical trial in 2008 looking at a specific dose of Wisconsin ginseng versus placebo, with the aim of a confirming a new treatment option for cancer-related fatigue. Ginseng is typically taken to enhance stamina and reduce feelings of fatigue and physical stress. It is also believed to have an anti-cancer function and has been reported to normalise blood glucose levels, improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of obesity. The herb has been gaining popularity in Western societies, finding its way into, for example, energy drinks. In the US it is estimated to be the second top-selling herbal supplement, with $62m (€48.2m) in annual sales. Source: The results were presented on June 3 at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology

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