Mixing alternative remedies such as herbs with prescription drugs for treating serious problems such as cancer can be risky. It is always a good idea to check with the oncology team to see if they know of any interactions or contra-indications. Sometimes this information is difficult to find.
Q. My doctor has suggested a Wisconsin ginseng supplement for energy. I am a cancer patient and would like to know if you are aware of any negative effects. Any information you have would be very appreciated.
Ginseng for Fatigue
A. A small study (30 patients) conducted at MD Anderson Cancer Center found that a high-dose ginseng supplement was effective in reducing cancer-related fatigue (Integrative Cancer Therapies, online April 14, 2015).
A previous double-blind trial had also found that Wisconsin ginseng can ease fatigue due to cancer (Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Aug. 21, 2013).
Is Ginseng Safe?
Ginseng appears to have protective effects in most cancer studies, and its safety record is impressive.
In rare cases people become sensitive to this plant product and break out in a rash. If that happens to you, stop taking the supplement immediately.
The other caution we offer is that ginseng may be incompatible with warfarin (Expert Opinion on Drug Metabolism & Toxicology, Mar. 2014). You can read more about ginseng in our herb library.