Ginger can play a critical role in controlling inflammation for people living with autoimmune diseases, according to a new study.
Researchers focused on the impact of ginger supplements on a type of white blood cell called the neutrophil.
They say their findings indicate that ginger supplements could even help treat people with COVID-19.
The American team who conducted the study, published in JCI Insight, was especially interested in neutrophil extracellular trap (NET) formation, also known as NETosis, and what it may mean for controlling inflammation.
They found ginger consumption by healthy people makes their neutrophils more resistant to NETosis.
The researchers say that is important because NETs are microscopic spider web-like structures that propel inflammation and clotting, which contribute to many autoimmune diseases- including lupus, antiphospholipid syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis.
Senior co-author Professor Kristen Demoruelle, of the University of Colorado School of Medicine, said: “There are a lot of diseases where neutrophils are abnormally overactive.
“We found that ginger can help to restrain NETosis, and this is important because it is a natural supplement that may be helpful to treat inflammation and symptoms for people with several different autoimmune diseases.”
The research team found, in a clinical trial, that daily intake of a ginger supplement for seven days – 20 mg of gingerols/day – by healthy volunteers boosted a chemical inside the neutrophil called cAMP.
The high levels of cAMP then inhibited NETosis in response to various disease-relevant stimuli.
Senior co-author Professor Jason Knight, of the University of Michigan, said: “Our research, for the first time, provides evidence for the biological mechanism that underlies ginger’s apparent anti-inflammatory properties in people,”
The researchers say that many people with inflammatory conditions are likely to ask their doctor whether natural supplements could be helpful for them or they already take supplements, such as ginger, to help manage symptoms.
They said that the precise impact on disease is often unknown.
The team hope that providing more evidence about ginger’s benefits, including the direct mechanism by which it impacts neutrophils, will encourage healthcare providers and patients to more strategically discuss whether taking ginger supplements as part of their treatment plan could be beneficial.
Kinght said: “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.”
He added: “The goal is to be more strategic and personalized in terms of helping to relieve people’s symptoms.”
Now the research team hopes to use the study to unlock funding for clinical trials of ginger in patients with autoimmune and inflammatory diseases where neutrophils are overactive, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, antiphospholipid syndrome and even COVID-19.
Produced in association with SWNS Talker