American ginseng was chosen for this month’s featured herb because of its increasing use by cancer patients. The Herb of the Month is presented by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
American ginseng is a perennial herb native to eastern North America. Following its introduction to China three centuries ago, both the fresh and dried forms of its root remain popular in Traditional Chinese medicine to enhance stamina and to treat a variety of ailments. Available evidence shows a modest protective effect of the herb in reducing the number and severity of colds, and in improving working memory in healthy adults. American ginseng has also been shown to improve cancer-related fatigue in cancer survivors - link to the MSKCC monograph.
The last two decades have seen a significant increase in dietary supplement use by cancer patients. Despite the proliferation of Web sites that contain information about dietary supplements, finding a reliable source can be overwhelming. The MSKCC Integrative Medicine Service developed and maintains a free Web site “About Herbs” that provides objective and unbiased information about herbs, vitamins, minerals and other dietary supplements, and unproven anticancer treatments. Each of the 276 and growing number of entries has healthcare professional and patient versions that are regularly updated with the latest research findings. The free About Herbs App, compatible with iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch devices, can be downloaded at http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/about-herbs/id554267162?mt=8.