At Mercola.com, Dr. Joseph Mercola discusses the anti-inflammatory properties of ginger. He writes:
Roughly 5,000 years ago, ginger (Zingiber officinale) was a luxury item.1 The root can be eaten fresh, pickled, preserved, candied, powdered or ground and researchers have now found the mechanism through which ginger helps reduce the symptoms of autoimmune diseases.2
Ginger is from the same family as cardamom and turmeric and is indigenous to tropical Asia. However, since ginger does not grow in the wild, the exact origins are unclear. It has been used medicinally and in food for at least 5,000 years.3
When the Roman Empire fell, the ginger trade was taken up by Arab merchants and spread across Europe. It continues to be used in traditional medicine today. Ayurvedic practitioners promote ginger to improve digestion and destroy toxins but warn that pregnant women, people with high blood pressure, skin diseases, gallstones or peptic ulcers should limit their intake. Data also suggests that adding ginger to your diet can do more than impact autoimmune diseases.
Ginger May Help Inflammation in Autoimmune Diseases
In January 2021,4 researchers from the University of Michigan demonstrated that a bioactive compound in ginger helped lower antibody production and stop disease progression in an animal model in which the animals had the autoimmune diseases antiphospholipid syndrome or lupus.
Ginger has traditionally been used to help lower inflammation, but until the most recent study published by the University of Colorado, the biological mechanism that underlies the anti-inflammatory properties had not been identified. In the paper5 published in JCI Insight, the research team noted the previously reported activity against antiphospholipid syndrome and lupus.
In the current study,6 they explored how taking a whole ginger extract could impact neutrophils in autoimmune mice and healthy humans. The study examined neutrophil extracellular trap (NET) formation and how that influenced inflammation. NET formation is also known as NETosis which, when restrained, could help reduce inflammation and symptoms in people with different types of autoimmune diseases.
NETs are microscopic structures that look like spider webs. They promote clotting and inflammation, which contributes to the development and progression of several autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and antiphospholipid syndrome.
In this trial, researchers gave 20 milligram supplements of gingerols to healthy volunteers over seven days. They found the supplementation increased cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), which was responsible for inhibiting NETosis.
“Our research, for the first time, provides evidence for the biological mechanism that underlies ginger’s apparent anti-inflammatory properties in people,” said senior co-author Dr. Jason Knight, associate professor in the department of internal medicine, division of rheumatology, at the University of Michigan.
“There are not a lot of natural supplements, or prescription medications for that matter, that are known to fight overactive neutrophils. We, therefore, think ginger may have a real ability to complement treatment programs that are already underway. The goal is to be more strategic and personalized in terms of helping to relieve people’s symptoms,” he added.
The researchers hope the results of this study will help garner funding for clinical trials using ginger in people with inflammatory diseases where neutrophils play a prominent role, including in the treatment of COVID-19.
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