Ginseng may help long-standing cancer patients to ward off the tiredness caused by the condition, found researchers from the Mayo Clinic Cancer Centre in US. The regular intake of high doses of the ginseng over two months significantly reduced cancer-related tiredness in patients in comparison to any other medication.
Ginseng has long been used as a natural energy booster in traditional Chinese medicine. Fatigue in cancer patients has been associated with the rise in inflammatory cytokines in the immune system plus inadequate regulation levels of the stress-hormone cortical.
Until this study, the beneficial effects of ginseng had not been tested extensively against the debilitating fatigue that occurs in more than ninety percent of cancer patients. For their study researchers examined three hundred and forty cancer patients who had completed their treatment at one of forty community medical centres in US.
The study participants were given two thousand milligram of ginseng in the form of capsule containing pure, ground American ginseng root or placebo, daily. After eight weeks, ginseng offered cancer patients significant improvement in general exhaustion such as feeling of being worn out, sluggish or tired compared to patients taking placebo.
The active ingredient on ginseng called as ginsenosides has already been shown to reduce cytokines related to inflammation and help regulate cortisol levels in animal studies. Lead researcher Doctor Debra Barton, stated off-the-shelf ginseng is sometimes processed using ethanol, which can give it oestrogen-like properties that may be harmful to breast cancer patients.
At fourth week, the pure ginseng provided only a slight improvement in fatigue symptoms. But, after eight weeks, they saw a twenty-point improvement in fatigue in cancer patients, measured on a one hundred-point, standardized fatigue scale. Besides, the herb had no apparent side effects. The next study will look closely examine effects of ginseng on the specific biomarkers for fatigue, stated Dr Barton.
The study was presented in the annual meeting at the American Society of Clinical Oncology.