The root of the ginseng plant has been used medicinally for thousands of years, and has a long history in the Chinese pharmacopeia. The plant naturally provides relief from inflammation, but is more widely known for its ability to provide a boost of energy. Ginseng contains several different chemicals which are now called ginsenosides, which suppress the normal functions of the immune system, which might otherwise result in inflammation. Researchers are now looking into its use to help cancer patients battle the exhausting effects that treatment may cause.
An underground medicine cabinet
Because ginseng can be used medicinally in its raw form, individuals looking to access the benefits needn’t rely on pills and supplements for the same effect. Many people have concerns about using pharmaceutics, even ones that are plant-derived, because of the processing the plant material sometimes goes through. While the capsules, more often than not, are made of pure ground ginseng root, consumers should be wary of those that do not. A select minority of sources have gone through a stage of processing that involved ethanol alcohol. Ethanol is a substance that is toxic under normal circumstances, giving rise to its use as a recreational drug, but is particularly disadvantageous to those that are trying to outlive a cancer.
Not that anyone needs to be told that intoxicants are toxins..
However, because cancer cells often have limited functions – they are, by definition, damaged cell copies – the types of energy that they can access are also often more limited. Here, ethanol disadvantages healthy cells and gives cancer cells an advantage. When ethanol is metabolized, healthy cells were shown to both increase their output of free radicals, and increase their reproduction rate.
Cancer cells, like all cells in the body, metabolize glucose for energy. Glucose is the most basic energy that all life forms consume. Ethanol is made from fermented glucose. It has been a widely held hypothesis, called the Warburg Theory of Cancer, that the replacement of the normal cellular oxidization of glucose with cellular use of fermented sugar is one of the primary causes of cancer. While under normal circumstances, people use alcohol because of it’s intoxicating effects, exposure is particularly disadvantageous for those with cancer.
It takes a lot of energy to beat cancer
Because cancer patients are already in a vulnerable position, it is very important that they not incur additional side effects from treatment. In an evaluation of the effectiveness of ginseng in treating fatigue, researchers found that, after eight weeks of consuming the herb, study participants indicated an improvement of 20 percent. Dr. McLeod expressed approval at the recommendation, saying that the main complaint she gets from her patients is about the loss of energy, rather than the more publicized effects like nausea.
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