Traditional Medicine Image

A study of traditional Chinese medicine has demonstrated beneficial results in cancer patients suffering from cancer related fatigue, with no toxicity reported.

Cancer patients undergoing treatment often suffer from severe fatigue. Cancer patients in China are often treated with traditional Chinese medicine to reduce their fatigue. A recent study has reported on the effectiveness of traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of cancer related fatigue. Study participants were treated with Ren Shen Yangrong Tang (RSYRT), which is a combination of 12 different herbs.

Components of Ren Shen Yangrong Tang (RSYRT)
Dangshen (Radix codonopsis pilosulae; root of pilose asiabell; often replaces ginseng)
Huanqi (Astragalus mongholicus)
Baizhu (Rhizoma atractylodes macrocephala; white rhizome of largehead atractylodes)
Fuling (Poria cocos; Indian bread)
Chenpi (Pericarpium citri reticulatae; dried tangerine peel)
Shengdi (Radix rehmanniae; root of rehmannia)
Baishao (Radix paeoniae alba; white peony root)
Danggui (Angelica sinensis; root of Chinese Angelica)
Wuweizi (Fructus schisandrae; shizandra berry)
Yuanzhi (Radix polygalae; polygala root)
Rougui (Cortex cinnamomi; cinnamon)
Gancao (Radix glycyrrhizae; licorice)


The participants were cancer patients who had completed their active therapy, and were experiencing moderate to severe fatigue. Participants were recruited in a cancer hospital in Beijing, China, between June 2006 and October 2008. The participants rated their level of fatigue on a scale from 0-10, where 0 = ‘no fatigue present’, and 10 = ‘fatigue as bad as you can imagine’. Fatigue rating was taken at the beginning and the end of the study (6 weeks). Patients were instructed to take the RSYRT herbal combination both in the morning and in the evening, twice daily, for six weeks.

At the beginning of the study, 11 patients reported moderate fatigue, while 22 patients reported severe fatigue. The study reported reductions in levels of fatigue after 6 weeks of treatment. At the end of the 6 week study period, 10 of the 11 patients who initially reported moderate fatigue, now reported mild fatigue, while 50% of the 22 patients who initially reported severe fatigue had reduced scores to mild fatigue, and the other 50% had reduced their scores to moderate fatigue. The reduction in fatigue was reported by the patients between 2-4 weeks after the beginning of treatment. There were no reports of adverse events including: gastrointestinal upset, insomnia, diarrhea, headache, sweating, rash, or other symptoms. The treatment was well tolerated by all patients, and no patients withdrew from the study.

The authors state that the results are promising, and there should be further research in the form of a randomized trial to further provide support of the use of complementary and alternative medicine for cancer related fatigue.



Xu Yichen, Chen Yanzhi, Li Pingping, and Wang Xin Shelley. “Ren Shen Yangrong Tang for Fatigue in Cancer Survivors: A Phase I/II Open-Label Study” The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. May 2015, 21(5): 281-287. doi:10.1089/acm.2014.0211.

Image courtesy of KEKO64 at






Written by Deborah Tallarigo, PhD

Facebook Comments