Recently, Dr. Shad Foster (@DrShadFoster) tweeted: “Gingseng As Effective As Drug for Fibromyalgia - Foster Family Chiropractic”. So I have been asking myself, how much could be in this claim. Panax ginseng (人参) contains ginsenosides and also phytoestrogens. A study showed an increase of cytotoxic T-cells (specific white blood cells) and natural killer cells, though this surely can’t be the reason to use ginseng. As ginseng also has shown side effects like, insomnia, diarrhea, mania, headaches, effects on blood pressure, to name a few, there is at least some reason not to rule out efficacy beforehand.
There is a study by A.S. Braz and colleagues: “Effects of Panax Ginseng Extract in Patients with Fibromyalgia: A 12-week, Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Trial”. The authors compared “the effects of (100 mg/d) with amitriptyline (25 mg/d) and placebo in 38 patients with fibromyalgia: 13 in Group I (amitriptyline), 13 in Group II (placebo), and 12 in Group III ( )”. That means that the study is underpowered. The authors didn’t define a primary outcome of their study. There were some differences in comparison to baseline, but “there were no differences between the three groups”. The authors see “a need for further studies to be performed on the tolerability and efficacy of this phytotherapic as a complementary therapy for fibromyalgia”. I don’t see it this way.
The study by Braz doesn’t show an advantage for Panax ginseng in comparison to amitriptylin or placebo.
Ginseng study by A.S. Braz and colleagues