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Beneficial Effects of Ginseng During Chemotherapy and Post-Treatment

June 23, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 212

Ginseng has been used in China tonics for over a thousand years to improve one's health. This herb is one of the most valued herbs in China and one of the most widely used in personal herbal remedies. In North America, ginseng's popularity in products such as energy drinks overshadows the herb's truly beneficial health boosting effects. Recent research is now uncovering the true nature of this herb's ancient benefits, from relieving fatigue to calming the body. Ginseng is of particular interest to individuals suffering from insomnia, chronic fatigue, stress, and even cancer patients.

Ginseng contains a class of compounds known as saponins, which are highly adaptive and multifunctioning in the human body. In smaller doses they can stimulate the nerve system and increase energy while in larger doses they can calm the body and improve quality of sleep. Saponins known as ginsenosides are the most commonly found in ginseng. Ginsenosides stimulate the immune system, increasing the body's natural resistance to disease, which in turn decreases the stress caused by overcoming a disease. Ginsenosides have also been reported to increase anti-body production, resulting in an increase in immune function, which is particularly important with cancer patients as they have decreased immune function. Ginsenosides also act upon the body's lymph nodes and are beneficial to cancer patients as they improve the patient's appetite, and the rate at which they fall asleep. These effects come from ginseng's anti-stress and anti-fatigue properties. By reducing stress and normalizing the amount of sleep a cancer patient receives, the healing process is quickened and the patient can return to normal health. Ginsenosides are also shown to shorten the healing time between treatments, leading to more successful treatments over time.

A study recently conducted by the Mayo Clinic on ginseng highlights the herb's anti-fatigue properties and immune boosting effects in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. The study was conducted by Dr. Deborah Barton and colleagues at the Mayo Clinic found that patients given 2 grams of ginseng over two months found significant improvement in general exhaustions without the appearance of side effects. Cancer induces chronic stress and long-term fatigue, which can affect the patient long after chemotherapy treatments are complete and the cancer is in remission. By alleviating fatigue, a patient will be able to recover more quickly and effectively from their illness. Cancer causes prolonged stress on the body, well beyond the time of initial diagnosis, thus using an energizing herb such as ginseng will benefit patients by relieving long term fatigue associated with the disease. Eliminating chronic stress and fatigue will significantly improve the overall mental wellbeing of any patients.

From the perspective of a Traditional Chinese medicine view point, ginseng, or ren shen, is a potent rejuvenating and revitalizing agent. Ginseng is a powerful Qi tonic, which roughly translated means it increases the blood flow into the five Yin organs of the body; the Liver, Heart, Spleen, Lungs and Kidneys. Ginseng also plays a role in nourishing Qi, in turn strengthening the body. By strengthening the Spleen Qi, where blood is produced, the blood is strengthened and circulation is encouraged, which reduces the amount of fatigue experience by a patient. The Lung Qi is also strengthened by ginseng, alleviating shortness of breath, increasing oxygenation of the blood and further reducing fatigue. In Traditional Chinese medicine, the heart is the seat of the spirit. Ginseng calms the spirit, relieving the patient of anxiety and insomnia which allows the patient to be able to relax and have more restful sleep.

Source: EzineArticles
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