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Ginseng May Help with Cancer-Related Fatigue

Cancer fatigue is a debilitating condition that is different from usual “tiredness”.  Fatigue felt by people with cancer is different from fatigue felt occasionally by healthy individuals. Compared with “normal” fatigue, fatigue related to cancer treatment usually is more severe, lasts longer, and is unrelieved by sleep. For some people with cancer, fatigue is a more distressing symptom than pain and other symptoms because it can interfere with normal activities.

Now a report from the Mayo Clinic indicates a somewhat positive finding in a controlled study comparing three doses of ginseng compared to a placebo. Dr Deborah Barton reported their results of a pilot study involving 290 cancer patients ( just published in Supportive Care Cancer, 2010 Feb 18:179-187). They concluded that “there appears to be some activity and tolerable toxicity at 1000-2000 mg/day doses of American ginseng with regards to cancer-related fatigue.”

Remember that there are several preparations of ginseng roots: American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) and Asian ginseng (Panex ginseng). This ingredient can be found in nutritional stores. Ginseng is also used in some popular “energy drinks”.

For more information about cancer-related fatigue and web-based resources, go to our companion website.

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