Tuesday, September 05, 2006

More Than One Ginseng

I recently read a magazine article which reported on a study done is Shangai over a period of six years. The study followed almost 1500 patients and found that women who had a history of taking ginseng had a 30% lower chance of dying than those who did not use ginseng.

They also reported that the women who began using ginseng after diagnosis felt they had more energy and slept better than the women who did not take ginseng. (All the women in the study had conventional cancer treatments. The women who used ginseng took an average 1.3 grams of ginseng per day.)

The magazine identified the ginseng as P. quinquefolius. I don't think most of the magazine readers know what that means.

Chinese (and Korean) ginseng is Panax ginseng, or P. ginseng. P. quinquefolius, or Panax quinquefolius, is American ginseng. It is botanically very similar to Chinese ginseng, in fact of all the plants called ginseng (Siberian ginseng, Prince ginseng, Tienchi ginseng, as well as the American and Chinese ginsengs), American ginseng is the only one which could cross pollinate with Panax ginseng.

The difference is important because American ginseng has a higher content of ginsenosides than Panax ginseng. According to the magazine article, in animal studies and in test tube studies, the ginsenosides seem to make cancer cells more vulnerable to chemotherapy.

If you are undergoing treatment for breast cancer, or any other medical condition, please consult with your doctor before adding any herbs to your treatment regimen.

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