New Research: Ginger and Autoimmune Disease
Ginger is an outstanding anti-inflammatory herb and functional food! Today, a PubMed search on the word brings up more than 4,000 hits, covering a wide range of research topics, from antiviral activity to nausea, obesity, and cancer.
Autoimmune disease is an especially challenging category for medical treatment, and appears to be a growing problem, especially in the most developed countries. (Note—we're pleased to offer high quality organic Peruvian Ginger Root!)
Quoting from "New research finds ginger counters certain autoimmune diseases in mice," a recent Science Daily post:
Ginger is known to have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects, making it a popular herbal supplement to treat inflammatory diseases.
And according to a Michigan Medicine led study published in JCI Insight, the main bioactive compound of ginger root, 6-gingerol, is therapeutic in countering the mechanism that fuels certain autoimmune diseases in mice. Researchers specifically looked at lupus, a disease which attacks the body's own immune system, and its often associated condition antiphospholipid syndrome, which causes blood clots, since both cause widespread inflammation and damage organs overtime.
In mice with either antiphospholipid syndrome or lupus, 6-gingerol prevented neutrophil extracellular trap release, which is triggered by the autoantibodies that these diseases produce.
"Neutrophil extracellular traps, or NETs, come from white blood cells called neutrophils," says lead author Ramadan Ali, Ph.D. "These sticky spider-web like structures are formed when autoantibodies interact with receptors on the neutrophil's surface."
According to Ali, these webs play an important role in the pathogenesis of lupus and antiphospholipid syndrome where they trigger autoantibody formation and contribute to blood vessel clotting and damage.
The study question was, "will the anti-inflammatory properties of ginger extend to neutrophils, and specifically, can this natural medicine stop neutrophils from making NETs that contribute to disease progression?"
"This pre-clinical study in mice offers a surprising and exciting, 'yes'," Ali says.
Ali discovered that after giving 6-gingerol, the mice had lower levels of NETs. Their tendency to make clots was also drastically reduced and 6-gingerol appeared to inhibit neutrophil enzymes called phosphodiesterases, which in turn reduced neutrophil activation.
But the most surprising find of all was that the mice, regardless of whether they had antiphospholipid syndrome or lupus, had reduced autoantibodies suggesting the inflammatory cycle, autoantibodies stimulating NETs which stimulate more autoantibodies, was broken.
Although the study was done in mouse models, Ali and Knight think the preclinical data, showing that 6-gingerol has anti-neutrophil properties that may protect against autoimmune disease progression, encourages clinical trial development.