News You Can Use
The Fatigue-Fighting HerbBy Lydia Fong
Ginseng, an herb long believed to improve health and well-being, may help to combat fatigue in cancer patients, according to a pilot study presented at last year’s annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
Debra Barton, Ph.D., an oncologist from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, tested different doses of ginseng pills among 282 cancer patients (39 percent of whom had breast cancer) with a history of cancer-related fatigue. Among the two groups who took the highest doses—1,000 and 2,000 milligrams per day—25 percent of each group reported feeling less fatigued, and 30 percent in each group said they were “more satisfied with their treatment.”
Though the herb has a history in ancient and complementary medicine, scientists don’t know how its healing qualities work. Barton hypothesizes that the active components in ginseng, called ginsenosides, somehow balance the physiologic markers of stress (like cortisol) in the body.
Although the findings are only preliminary, they do warrant further study, which Barton plans to start this year.