AURORA, Colo. — Ginger may play a pivotal role in controlling inflammation among individuals dealing with autoimmune diseases. Researchers from the University of Colorado School of Medicine delved into the effects of ginger supplements on neutrophils, a type of white blood cell. The findings propose that these supplements may also be beneficial in treating people with COVID and other conditions.
The study primarily focused on neutrophil extracellular trap (NET) formation, or NETosis, examining its implications for inflammation control. The results indicate that consuming ginger enables neutrophils in healthy people to become more resistant to NETosis. This is crucial as NETs — a microscopic, web-like structure — propel inflammation and clotting, contributing to numerous autoimmune diseases like lupus, antiphospholipid syndrome, and rheumatoid arthritis.
“There are a lot of diseases where neutrophils are abnormally overactive. We found that ginger can help to restrain NETosis,” says senior co-author, Professor Kristen Demoruelle from the University of Colorado School of Medicine, in a media release. “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.”
In a clinical trial, the study authors observed that taking a daily ginger supplement — 20 mg of gingerols per day — increased a chemical inside the neutrophil called cAMP in healthy volunteers, which then inhibited NETosis in response to stimuli relevant to disease.
“Our research, for the first time, provides evidence for the biological mechanism that underlies ginger’s apparent anti-inflammatory properties in people,” says Professor Jason Knight from the University of Michigan, another senior co-author of the new study.
Often, individuals with inflammatory conditions seek or are already utilizing natural supplements like ginger to manage symptoms, usually without knowing the exact impact of the disease. The researchers believe that elucidating the benefits of ginger, including the direct mechanism influencing neutrophils, will promote more informed discussions between healthcare providers and patients about incorporating ginger supplements into treatment plans.
“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,” adds Prof. Knight.
Knight further emphasizes the aim to be “more strategic and personalized” in alleviating symptoms for patients. The researchers are now leveraging this study to secure funding for clinical trials, exploring the effectiveness of ginger in patients with overactive neutrophils due to autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, antiphospholipid syndrome, and COVID-19.
The research is published in JCI Insight.
South West News Service writer Stephen Beech contributed to this report.