Ginseng Lowers Fatigue in Cancer Study

July 26, 2013

A multicenter study included several hundred cancer survivors on ginseng or placebo for eight weeks.

A phase III study on ginseng and cancer patients suggests that American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) can combat cancer-related fatigue.

In a study involving 40 universities, researchers assigned 364 fatigued cancer survivors to 2 g of ginseng or placebo daily for eight weeks. At baseline, four weeks, and eight weeks, subjects were evaluated for fatigue scores, measured using the Multidimensional Fatigue Symptom Inventory–Short Form. Many subjects dropped out of the study before its completion-80, according to Reuters-but that would still leave 284 subjects.

At eight weeks, ginseng users displayed significantly lower fatigue scores compared placebo users, and with no significant difference in adverse event reports (many of which are cancer treatment-related symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting). Benefits of ginseng appeared greater in subjects undergoing active cancer treatment.

The phase III study on ginseng and cancer patients, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, complements much previous research on ginseng and fatigue in various populations. In 2013 alone, at least two other studies have looked at ginseng and fatigue-both with positive results.