Washington: Cancer patients and survivors who report feeling tired or sluggish, felt noticeably better after taking ginseng supplements for two months, a new study has found.
Lead author Debra Barton, from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota said that nearly all patients with cancer can suffer from fatigue at some point; either at diagnosis, during treatment and even after treatment, and (fatigue) can linger for several years.
She said that issue with cancer-related fatigue is that it can be a profound fatigue that is not relieved by sleep or rest and that it can significantly impact the ability of people to accomplish the things they are used to doing every day.
Ginseng had shown promise for fatigue in earlier studies as well, researchers said.
Tired cancer patients and survivors often turn to that and other dietary supplements such as Coenzyme Q-10, L-Carnitine and guarana, but not all are supported by evidence.
To look more closely at the effects of ginseng, Barton and her coauthors split 364 people with cancer -related fatigue into two groups.
People in one group took 2,000 milligrams of Wisconsin ginseng daily for eight weeks; those in the other group took placebo capsules.
Participants reported their fatigue on a specialized questionnaire. Researchers then weighted those answers on a 100-point scale, where higher scores indicate more energy. Both groups started with an average score around 40.
After eight weeks, the ginseng group reported a 20-point score increase, on average, compared to a 10-point improvement for the placebo group.
That`s more than enough change to be noticeable in daily life, according to the scale.
Side effects such as nausea, vomiting and anxiety were not any more common among people taking ginseng.
The findings are published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.