The spice ginger is well known for its therapeutics effects on a wide range of health conditions such as arthritis, migraines and nausea. Tea made from ginger has also been used for aiding digestion which may now also include relief from symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) of the two main forms which are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
IBD is a group of disorders in which the intestines become inflamed – red and swollen – most likely as a result of an immune reaction of the body against its own intestinal tissue. Symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, anemia, reduced appetite, and fatigue.
Research has attempted to discover a method of delivering medication to this area of the digestive system to help relieve the symptoms and the health consequences of this condition. One method being looked at is called nanotechnology which has the advantage of being able to deliver low doses of drugs to specific areas in order to avoid unwanted side effects on other areas of the body.
Researchers from the Atlanta Veterans Association and the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State University have been experimenting using super-high-speed centrifuging to obtain nanoparticle derived from ginger. Purchasing ginger at a local farmers’ market, they juiced fresh ginger root in a blender. Then a super-high-speed centrifuge is used to create ultrasonic dispersion of the ginger juice creating pellets.
To get an idea of how tiny the nanoparticles are, each nanoparticle is about 230 nanometers in diameter and over 300 of them could fit across the width of a human hair.
Using mice, the researchers found that the particles appeared to help repair the intestinal lining of the colon by encouraging the survival and proliferation of cells in that area. The same particles also helped to lower the production of proteins promoting inflammation and increased the level of proteins that fight inflammation. In doing so, these particles are not only nontoxic but also only target the colon since the cells within the lining of the colon are the only cells absorbing them.
This research indicates that these nanoparticles appear to reduce acute colitis and prevent chronic colitis and colitis-associated cancer.
The advantage of ginger is that the ginger plant contains natural lipids, including phosphatidic acid which are important for building cell membranes. It takes high levels of lipids, or fatty molecules in the nanoparticles to create a therapeutic effect.
Gingers use on subsiding nausea and other digestive issues has to do with a couple of naturally occurring active substances called 6-gingerol and 6-shogaol. These two compounds appear to help prevent oxidation, inflammation, and cancer.
Using nanoparticles to deliver these compounds is an effective method of targeting colon tissue as opposed to using ginger as a food or supplement and it is not that expensive.
Ginger is not the only plant being studies for its use as a nanoparticle – other plants are being considered as potential nanoparticles for other medical conditions since they are bio-renewable, sustainable and diversified for this type of treatment.