Part of the challenge of treating cancer patients isn't just treating the disease -- it's treating everything else that comes along for the ride.
There are dozens of conditions that often accompany cancer, but the one near-universal experience shared by almost all cancer patients is fatigue. It's reported in up to 90 percent of all cases.
Coffee won't help with this kind of fatigue, I'm afraid. But a little ginseng can.
In a new study, researchers gave 360 cancer patients either 2,000 milligrams of ground American ginseng root or a placebo and tracked them for eight weeks.
Over the first four weeks, there were no differences between the two groups. But by the eighth week, those given ginseng improved by an average of 20 points on a scale of fatigue symptoms, while those on a placebo only saw a 10-point change.
This is not a surprise, as other studies on ginseng and fatigue have found that it can take several weeks to kick in (even when given to non-cancer patients). If the study had lasted a little longer, the patients who got the ginseng might've seen an even bigger benefit.
Along with reducing fatigue, ginseng can also block the growth of breast and prostate cancer cells. Some studies have even shown that breast cancer patients who take ginseng have better outcomes -- especially in women who took ginseng regularly before their diagnoses.
It can also be used to help offset the effects of cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation.
Ginseng also has dozens of other uses, some with great science behind them and others that are still emerging. It's commonly used to help control blood sugar in diabetics, improve memory, stimulate the libido, and there's even evidence it may help fight the effects of aging.
It's also great for stress reduction -- something both cancer patients and non-cancer patients alike can benefit from.
As I wrote in my book "The Natural Physician's Healing Therapies," there are different forms of ginseng with different benefits. A holistic doctor can help you identify the form that's best for your case.
Since ginseng can boost energy levels, don't take it before bed, and pregnant women shouldn't take it at all.