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Ginger Supplements May Reduce Inflammation Related to Autoimmune Disease

Adam Meyer

Dec 9, 2023

Uncover the potential benefits of ginger supplements in the fight against autoimmune conditions.

Reviewed by Dietitian Jessica Ball, M.S., RD.

You've likely heard ginger can be helpful for upset stomach and digestive health. But now, a recent study published in JCI Insight on September 22nd, 2023, reveals that taking ginger supplements may help manage inflammation for those grappling with autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and COVID-19. This research, which delves into the fascinating world of immune response, centers on a specific type of white blood cell known as neutrophils and their intriguing role in autoimmune conditions. In this article, we'll discuss the study's findings and explore whether ginger supplements can help you control inflammation related to autoimmune disease.

What the Study Found

The study primarily focused on neutrophil extracellular trap (NET) formation, commonly called NETosis. NETs are complex, spider web-like structures within your body that drive inflammation and blood clotting—hallmark signs of many autoimmune diseases, including lupus, antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) and rheumatoid arthritis.

The study's findings indicate that ginger supplementation may enhance the resistance of neutrophils to NETosis. This discovery holds significant promise, as overactive neutrophils contribute to the progression of autoimmune diseases. Kristen Demoruelle, MD, Ph.D., senior co-author of the study and associate professor of medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, said in a statement, "There are a lot of diseases where neutrophils are abnormally overactive. We found that ginger can help to restrain NETosis, which 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 the clinical trial, researchers administered a daily ginger supplement of 20 milligrams of gingerols daily to healthy volunteers for seven days. The researchers observed elevated levels of a chemical within the neutrophils called cAMP. These increased cAMP levels effectively 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," Jason Knight, MD, another senior co-author of the study and associate professor in the Division of Rheumatology at the University of Michigan added to the statement.

The study's implications extend to those with inflammatory conditions who are interested in using natural supplements to manage their symptoms. However, the exact impact of these supplements on disease management is unclear and more research is needed to clarify their role. The hope is that by presenting more concrete evidence of ginger's benefits, including its direct influence on neutrophils, healthcare providers and patients will engage in more informed discussions regarding the potential benefits of ginger supplements as part of treatment plans.

"There are not a lot of natural supplements, or prescription medications for that matter, that are known to fight overactive neutrophils," included Knight. "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."

The next step for researchers is to leverage these promising findings to secure funding for clinical trials involving ginger's potential role in patients with autoimmune and inflammatory diseases characterized by overactive neutrophils, including conditions like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, APS and COVID-19.

The Bottom Line

New research published in JCI Insight suggests that ginger supplements may help reduce inflammation associated with autoimmune disease. The study revealed that ginger can help neutrophils, which play an essential role in immune function, resist the formation of inflammation-inducing NETs. These findings signify a potential breakthrough for those with autoimmune conditions like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and APS. Understanding how ginger affects the immune system can help healthcare providers and patients explore other approaches that may improve the management of autoimmune diseases, offering newfound hope for those living with these health conditions.


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