Because chemotherapy and other standard treatments aren’t always effective and may have serious side effects, many patients have turned to herbal remedies.
Ginseng has been a staple of Asian herbal medicine, and studies have indicated that it might help not only prevent cancer, but also relieve some of the side effects (such as nausea and vomiting) of cancer therapies.
Although treatment with ginseng doesn’t work as well as chemotherapy, it might be an effective adjuvant cancer treatment, says study author Chun-Su Yuan, MD, PhD, Director of the Tang Center for Herbal Medicine Research at The University of Chicago
“ It could be used together with chemotherapy to increase its efficacy and also to reduce the chemotherapy side effects,” he says. “It possibly could be a single compound that could be a new-generation cancer drug.”
Although ginseng doesn’t have any noticeable adverse effects in moderate doses, when given in larger amounts patients have noted increased heart rate, nausea, headaches, and difficulty sleeping, among other symptoms.
The challenge is to determine the optimal dose, and figure out how to deliver ginseng in the most effective way to target the cancer cells without causing significant side effects.
Future research should help resolve these issues. “We would like to start human trials in the future,” Dr. Yuan says. “Our initial results were promising.”
Also known as food supplement or nutritional supplement
A preparation intended to supplement the diet and provide nutrients , such as vitamins , minerals , fiber , fatty acids , or amino acids , that may be missing or may not be consumed in sufficient quantities in a person's diet
Some countries define dietary supplements as foods, while in others they are defined as drugs or natural health products