Ginseng is nonsuperior to placebo in improving health-related quality of life in patients with stable symptomatic chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a new study published in Thorax.

Ginseng is nonsuperior to placebo in improving health-related quality of life in patients with stable symptomatic chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a new study published in Thorax.

Patients with stable symptomatic COPD were randomly assigned to a twice-daily 100-mg ginseng supplement (n=82) or placebo (n=86) for 24 weeks in this trial (Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry Identifier: ACTRN12610000768099) that took place in 5 hospitals in Australia and China. Researchers enrolled patients ≥40 years of age who had airflow limitation categorized as moderate COPD by the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease. Results from the St. George’s Respiratory Questionnaire, the COPD assessment test, and the Short Form Health Survey were the coprimary end points. Additional outcomes were use of relief medication, lung function, and exacerbation rate.

For the St. George’s Respiratory Questionnaire, the difference between the 2 groups was similar at the end of treatment. The proportion of patients in the ginseng and placebo groups who achieved a clinically meaningful improvement of ≥4 points on the questionnaire was similar immediately following treatment (32.5% vs 38.4%, respectively; P =.46) and after follow-up (26.8% vs 22.1%, respectively; P =.48).

However, ginseng was associated with better outcomes on the Short Form Healthy Survey physical change score between end of treatment and end of follow-up (mean difference, 1.29; 95% CI, 0.01-2.59; P =.048). In addition, Chinese participants who took ginseng fared better on the Short Form Healthy Survey mental scores than participants who took placebo (mean difference, 2.11; 95% CI, 0.57-3.67; P =.008).

Study limitations included the recruitment of only Australian and Chinese patients, as well as not including patients with more severe COPD, both of which may have reduced the generalizability of the findings.

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“Use of relief medication and COPD exacerbations were similar between groups, and not statistically significant, possibly due to the infrequent use of relief medication and the small number of patients with exacerbations,” the researchers noted.

Reference

Shergis JL, Thien F, Worsnop CJ, et al. 12-month randomised controlled trial of ginseng extract for moderate COPD [published online April 2, 2019]. Thorax. doi:10.1136/thoraxjnl-2018-212665