North Central Cancer Treatment Group reports on pilot ginseng study

CHICAGO — North Central Cancer Treatment Group (NCCTG) researchers, based at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., have generated preliminary data suggesting that a form of American ginseng provides greater improvements in fatigue and vitality in patients who receive the highest doses tested, compared to lower doses or no treatment.

The results of their scientifically rigorous pilot study, the first to evaluate the Wisconsin species of American ginseng as a possible therapy for cancer-related fatigue, are being presented June 3 at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology

The investigators enrolled 282 patients in a randomized, placebo-controlled trial, averaging 71 patients per each of four arms, with between 39 and 48 patients in each arm completing the eight weeks of treatment. Treatment arms consisted of placebo, and three different daily doses of Wisconsin ginseng — 750, 1,000 and 2,000 milligrams.

Of the four treatment arms, patients receiving the placebo and the lowest dose of ginseng reported very little improvement in fatigue or other areas of physical or psychological well-being. The patients receiving the larger doses showed improvements in overall energy levels, reporting higher vitality levels and less interference with activity from fatigue. They also reported an improvement in overall mental, physical, spiritual and emotional well-being.