Ginseng gives cancer patients an energy boost in Mayo Clinic study (VIDEO)

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Ginseng boost energy for cancer patients in Mayo Clinic findings

Ginseng has long been used in Chinese medicine to boost energy. Now researchers at Mayo Clinic have found high doses of American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) can give cancer patients suffering from fatigue that accompanies chemotherapy an energy boost.

For their study, the researchers tested primarily breast cancer patients (60 percent of participants).  Included were 340 patients who were either receiving cancer treatment or who had completed therapy.

Ginseng improves cancer patient's fatigue after 8 weeks

The study groups either received a placebo or 2,000mg of pure American ginseng root, which is an important note for women being treated for breast cancer.

Debra Barton, Ph.D., of the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center explained in a press release that ‘off the shelf’ ginseng is often processed with ethanol; giving it estrogen like properties that could pose dangers for breast cancer patients.

It took 8 weeks to see improvement in fatigue and symptoms of exhaustion, ‘feeling pooped’, ‘wore out’, ‘sluggish’ and ‘run down’, but the change was substantial.

There was a 20 point improvement on a standard 100-point fatigue scale reported by the cancer patients; with no apparent side effects.

The study is important because 90 percent of cancer patients experience fatigue that can disrupt normal routines, destroy quality of life and cause general debilitation.

Based on animal studies, the researchers believe the active ingredients in Ginseng -  called ginsenosidescalm inflammatory chemicals known as cytokines, in addition to stabilizing cortisol, which is a stress hormone.

Barton said, “Cancer is a prolonged chronic stress experience and the effects can last 10 years beyond diagnosis and treatment.
 If we can help the body be better modulated throughout treatment with the use of ginseng, we may be able to prevent severe long-term fatigue."

The findings shows ginseng is a natural energy booster that can help cancer patients overcome fatigue. The Mayo Clinic researchers are planning on continuing their studies into exactly how ginseng affects specific biomarkers in the body to give cancer patients an energy boost. Speak with your doctor before taking any supplements or over the counter medications.

June 4, 2012