Ginseng and cancer

J BUON. Nov-Dec 2016;21(6):1383-1387.


Derived from the Greek word Panacea that means 'cure for all', Ginseng (Panax) has had an important place in Chinese Medicine for many of years. As the name suggests, it is believed to be a miraculous plant effective in the treatment of many health problems. It is claimed to have many effects such as sedative, hypnotic, aphrodisiac, antidepressant, diuretic, and stimulating effects, and to be effective in the treatment of certain health problems such as diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, erectile dysfunction and infections. In addition, its effects on the prevention and treatment of cancer as well as on the reduction of cancer-related symptoms have been prioritized in recent years. However, the studies that have been done so far do not confirm these effects. Although certain favorable results have been obtained in some studies intended for investigating its effects on acute nasopharyngitis, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, and erectile dysfunction, it is early to say anything conclusive. And in cancer patients, it has been shown to be effective in reducing weakness due to cancer and its treatment. On the other hand, ginseng may cause important drug interactions, although it is described as a relatively safe product. For now, it seems to be reasonable to use ginseng only for cancer-related weakness in cancer patients at this point. But this should definitely be done within the knowledge and under the control of oncologists.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / isolation & purification
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / therapeutic use*
  • Cachexia / drug therapy*
  • Cachexia / etiology
  • Ginger / chemistry*
  • Herb-Drug Interactions
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / complications
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / mortality
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Phytotherapy
  • Plant Extracts / adverse effects
  • Plant Extracts / isolation & purification
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Plants, Medicinal
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Plant Extracts