What Is the Relationship between Ginseng and Cancer?

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  • Written By: Jay Leone
  • Edited By: Rachel Catherine Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 21 February 2020
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Ginseng may inhibit the formation of cancer cells and help relieve the general fatigue that accompanies chemotherapy and most other types of cancer treatment. Studies on American and Asian ginseng varieties have found that ginseng may offer anti-cancer properties but more in-depth research must be conducted to fully acknowledge ginseng and cancer claims. Very few side effects are linked with ginseng.

China, Korea, Russia, and Japan all produce Asian ginseng, while American ginseng grows predominantly in the United States. Studies on American ginseng and cancer reveal that this particular type of ginseng can boost energy levels and relieve fatigue in people with cancer. Ginseng may help the body modulate the physiological stress linked with cancer and cancer treatment.

American ginseng can inhibit human breast cancer growth in cultures grown in labs. The higher the ginseng concentration, the more slowly cancer proliferation will occur. High doses of this ginseng will completely inhibit the proliferation of cultured breast cancer cells by interfering with a tumor’s ability to create blood vessels.


Studies conducted in China found that people who took Asian ginseng extracts often exhibited lower risks of cancer overall. A different Chinese study on ginseng and cancer found that women with breast cancer who regularly consumed ginseng before their diagnosis tended to survive longer than women who did not take ginseng. This study on ginseng and cancer also found that women who took ginseng during breast cancer treatments reported a better overall quality of life while undergoing treatment. Korean studies have found that ginseng can slow or stop the proliferation of cancers such as colon cancer, breast cancer, and lung cancer.

Chinese people have been employing ginseng as an herbal remedy for thousands of years. Clinical trials still need to take place, however, to determine the long-term effects of high doses of ginseng. Trials can also reveal any negative interactions that ginseng may have when combined with certain medications.

While available scientific evidence on the effectiveness of ginseng has yet to fully support anti-cancer claims, the dried roots of certain ginseng plants are still used to treat several conditions, including cancer. Aside from use as an anti-cancer agent, ginseng often finds use in treating ailments of the respiratory and digestive systems. Many people also use ginseng products to treat certain nervous disorders.

Ginseng remains relatively safe but there are certain side effects that may accompany ginseng use at high doses. Possible side effects linked with ginseng use include trouble sleeping, nausea, headaches, and increased heart rate. Women may experience vaginal bleeding or swollen breasts while taking ginseng regularly. Diabetics should employ ginseng with caution as the material may cause blood sugar levels to drop.


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