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Autoimmune disease is a sneaky enemy.
It turns your body’s once-balanced immune system into an overactive nightmare that begins attacking your own healthy cells and organs.
It also sets off a cascade of inflammation that can take down joints, wreck your gut or destroy your nervous system.
Sadly, autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis are on the rise – especially in those of us over 50.
Even worse, because of the way these diseases leverage the body against itself, they’re hard to treat, often leaving patients with few recommendations from their doctor except to learn to live with the symptoms as best they can.
However, that doesn’t mean that there’s no hope…
In fact, researchers have delved into the world of autoimmune diseases repeatedly, often finding that the best options for care are natural.
And now, there’s an old “new kid on the block” in the battle against autoimmunity and the inflammation it causes – ginger.
Targeting the neutrophils
Ginger has a rich history of healing that goes back more than 3,000 years. And it’s been proven time and again to help the body fight off some of the most common and worst health issues.
So a team of scientists from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus decided to see what the spice could do for autoimmunity.
Specifically, the researchers set out to measure the impact of ginger supplementation on a type of white blood cell called neutrophils. Overactive neutrophils can mean the type of out-of-control inflammation.
And according to senior co-author Kristen Demoruelle, MD, PhD., “There are a lot of diseases where neutrophils are abnormally overactive”
So did ginger live up to its 3,000+ year-old hype?
In the clinical trial, the researchers found that daily intake of a ginger supplement for just seven days (at a dose of 20 mg of gingerols/day) made the neutrophils of healthy individuals more resistant to NETosis. NETs are microscopic spider web-like structures that propel the inflammation and clotting that are a hallmark of numerous autoimmune conditions, like rheumatoid and lupus.
The benefits were so clear that the researchers hope their findings will encourage healthcare providers and patients to 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,” said senior co-author Jason Knight, MD, PhD.
Putting ginger to work
So if you’re ready to battle back autoimmunity with the power of ginger, what should you know?
Well, the first thing is that ginger supplements are easy to find, both in stores and online.
Next, be sure when choosing a supplement to grab one that explains the percentage of gingerols to mg. But always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for serving amount, unless otherwise directed by your physician.
Finally, fresh ginger root is also an option, although it’s harder to know if you’re getting enough gingerols this way.
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