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Could ginseng reduce cancer-related fatigue?

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Could ginseng reduce cancer-related fatigue?Ginseng is a well-known energy booster used to reduce daily fatigue. It helps people with poor energy, physical fatigue, and mental stress. It works well among healthy people, and will it help reduce cancer-related fatigue for cancer patients?

Ginseng may help with cancer-related fatigue

A study reviewing all available clinical trials shows that their findings in the study support the safety and effectiveness of ginseng in the treatment of cancer-related fatigue. The study was published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer in 2020.

Among 210 studies available by October 2019, researchers included seven clinical trials and one retrospective study for systematic review. They found that:

  • American ginseng, containing more than 5% ginsenosides, consumed at the dosage of 2000 mg/day for up to eight weeks significantly reduced fatigue.
  • Asian ginseng, containing≥7% ginsenosides, relieved symptoms of fatigue in the majority of patients with cancer-related fatigue with a daily dosage at 400 mg.
  • Korean ginseng, administrated at the dosage of 3000 mg/day for 12 weeks, decreased symptoms of cancer-related fatigue.

Subject to limited studies, the study cannot directly conclude the effectiveness of the health benefits of ginseng in improving cancer-related fatigue, but it suggested that ginseng is promising relief for cancer patients. More large-scale and high-quality human studies are needed in the future to serve as evidence.

Best ginseng for fatigue

It might occur to you that whether you shall purchase American ginseng or Asian/Korean ginseng and which one is the best ginseng for fatigue. Actually, this is not what really matters. The antifatigue activities of ginseng are derived from its pharmacologically active ingredients, known as ginsenosides. It is ginsenoside content that matters when it comes to the best ginseng for fatigue.

Korean red ginseng is frequently recommended as the best ginseng for fatigue. This is because it contains a higher amount of rare ginsenosides like Rg3, Rg5, F1, etc. Unlike naturally occurring ginsenosides, known as prototype ginsenosides in ginseng like Rb1, Rc, Rg1, Re, etc, rare ginsenosides have low-molecular weights and thus have better bioactivity and absorption.

Unfortunately, prototype ginsenosides have absolutely dominant presence in ginseng, and rare ginsenosides rarely exist in fresh ginseng and they must be transformed from prototype ginsenosides using unique processing methods. For example, Rb1 can be transformed into Rg3 and Rh2 after steaming processing.

In a word, the best ginseng for fatigue shall be the one with a high percentage of potent rare ginsenosides.

Ginseng dosage for fatigue

Ginseng dosage varies depending on different preparations and usages. Ginseng extracts containing a high percentage of ginsenosides shall be given in reduced dosage, compared to dried ginseng. Cancer patients will be given more dosages than healthy people.

An increasing number of cancer patients have been reportedly using herbal medicine to support their cancer treatment, and ginseng is a popular one. Always check with your healthcare professional before taking ginseng, especially for cancer patients who are taking medications.

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