How to Relieve Your Cancer Fatigue with Ginseng Supplements

According to a new study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, taking ginseng supplements for two months can help you to feel better if you’re tired or sluggish after cancer. This is welcome news for tired cancer patients and survivors who often turn to that and other dietary supplements, such as Coenzyme Q-10, L-Carnitine and guarana, as not all of these methods are supported by evidence.


Whether you’re still being treated or in remission for the disease, cancer can affect your wellness with tiredness and fatigue, says lead author Debra Barton, from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. She commented, ‘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. The 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.’


Therefore, the researchers gave 364 participants with cancer-related fatigue either 2,000 milligrams of Wisconsin ginseng or a placebo capsule, to see if the supplement may help. Both groups of volunteers took their medication every day over a period of eight weeks, and reported their fatigue on a specialised questionnaire. On a 100-point scale, in which higher scores denote more energy, both groups started out with an average score of 40, but after the eight weeks was up, there was a notable difference; while the placebo group’s score improved by an average of 10 points, the ginseng group reported a 20-point score increase. According to the scale, that’s more than enough change to be noticeable in daily life.


Catherine Alfano, deputy director of the office of cancer survivorship at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, noted, ‘Ginseng is interesting because it acts on inflammation, and we think inflammation explains cancer-related fatigue.’ However, while she believes that the clinical trial has exhibited promising results, they aren’t enough to make ginseng a doctor-recommended supplement to patients. Barton warned, ‘There may be ginseng available in the local stores that is very different from what this study used, and some that is quite similar.’

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