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Red ginseng for chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia

This noncontrolled trial found that for people with chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, or both, taking red ginseng extract improved well-being.

Background

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and fibromyalgia (FMS) are health conditions that often occur after a viral infection. CFS and FMS frequently overlap and feature fatigue as a primary symptom. Some evidence suggests that Panax ginseng root (ginseng for short) can reduce fatigue.[1] This study examined whether red ginseng, a form of ginseng that has been processed with heat, can improve the well-being of people with CFS and/or FMS.

The study

In this 1-month noncontrolled trial, 188 people with either CFS or FMS (mean age of 59) were assigned to take red ginseng extract daily. Overall, 96.8% of participants met the criteria for CFS and 94.1% met the criteria for FMS, meaning that most participants met the criteria for both.

Participants were given various doses of ginseng extract (100 milligrams [mg], 200 mg, or 400 mg), with some participants also given the compound gamma-cyclodextrin to enhance absorption of the bioactive compounds in the ginseng extract. The primary outcome was overall well-being, assessed using a questionnaire in which participants self-reported their energy, well-being, mental clarity, sleep, pain, and stamina.

The results

Compared with baseline, the participants’ well-being improved, as well as every individual subcategory. These changes were independent of the dose or the addition of gamma-cyclodextrin.

Note

This study did not include a placebo group, weakening our confidence in the findings.

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