New Study: Ginger Supplementation Shows Promise in Autoimmune Disease Treatment


Recent research highlights ginger supplements as potentially effective in controlling inflammation in autoimmune diseases by targeting neutrophils and inhibiting NETosis, offering a new perspective on natural supplements in treatment plans for conditions like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

New research examined the effects of ginger supplementation on the functioning of white blood cells in individuals.

Recent findings highlight the significance of ginger supplements in managing inflammation in autoimmune conditions. The study, detailed in the journal JCI Insight, concentrated on the effects of ginger on neutrophils, a kind of white blood cell.

It particularly examined the process of neutrophil extracellular trap (NET) formation, known as NETosis, to understand its implications for inflammation control.

Impact of Ginger on Neutrophil Function

The study found ginger consumption by healthy individuals makes their neutrophils more resistant to NETosis. This 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.

“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,” said senior co-author Kristen Demoruelle, MD, Ph.D., associate professor of medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine on the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

Clinical Trial Insights

In a clinical trial, the researchers found 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. These high levels of cAMP then inhibited NETosis in response to various disease-relevant stimuli.

“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 Jason Knight, MD, PhD, associate professor in the Division of Rheumatology at the University of Michigan.

Ginger’s Role in Treatment Discussions

The researchers say that many people with inflammatory conditions are likely to ask their healthcare providers whether natural supplements could be helpful for them or they already take supplements, like ginger, to help manage symptoms.

Unfortunately, the precise impact on disease is often unknown. The researchers hope that providing more evidence about ginger’s benefits, including the direct mechanism by which ginger 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.

“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,” Knight adds.

As a next step, the researchers hope to use this 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.

Reference: “Ginger intake suppresses neutrophil extracellular trap formation in autoimmune mice and healthy humans” by Ramadan A. Ali, Valerie C. Minarchick, Miela Zahavi, Christine E. Rysenga, Kristin A. Sturm, Claire K. Hoy, Cyrus Sarosh, Jason S. Knight and M. Kristen Demoruelle, 22 September 2023, JCI Insight.
DOI: 10.1172/jci.insight.172011

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