By Paul K. DiCostanzo Managing Editor
Atlanta, GA, US- A research team based at the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center are testing a new medicinal therapy for treating patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), the ginger root. This new avenue has shown considerable clinical promise in effectively suppressing the enigmatic, pernicious, and poorly understood digestive disease.
What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease?
IBD is an umbrella term that includes the conditions Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis (UC). IBD is thought to be an autoimmune disorder that affects the digestive tract of a patient. Symptoms may include, but are not limited to, bloody ulceration formed in the ileum and colon. As well as potential frequent bloody diarrhea, anemia, nausea, iron deficiency, malnutrition, and pain in the midsection.
Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, although similar, are distinct and separate diagnoses. Crohn’s Disease may affect any portion of a patients digestive tract, whereas Ulcerative Colitis is exclusively localized to the patients lower intestines.
How is Inflammatory Bowel Disease Treated?
With a limited understanding of these conditions, current treatment options include immunosuppressive medications, and occasionally surgery to manage so-called IBD flare-ups.
First line treatments such as oral and IV anti-inflammatory steroids like Prednisone are widely prescribed following initial diagnosis. For more advanced cases medications such as Remicade (infliximab) and Humara (Adalimumab) are administered by IV or patient injection on a structured multi week or multi month regiment. These treatments are often supplemented with daily oral doses of drugs like Imuran (Azathioprine) or 6-MP (Mercaptopurine).
Advanced demonstrations of these diseases that are shown to be medicinally resistant can result in a referral for surgical intervention, usually including a resectioning of the effected bowel.
Clinical Trials in AtlantaThe research team lead by Dr. Didier Merlin, associated with the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State University, has developed what they call Ginger Derived Nanoparticles (GDNP), a form of nanomedicine. GDNP’s are ginger roots broken down by a process using a high speed centrifuge and ultrasonic dispersion. The resulting particles are meant for therapeutic consumption in hope they will lead to a cessation of IBD symptoms. Dr. Merlin’s team believes the use of ginger in nanoparticle form will prove more effective in treating bowel tissue than would ginger as a nutritional supplement.
Clinical research on mice revealed that GDNP’s created highly promising outcomes in reducing advanced colitis, promotion of healing in the intestines themselves, as well as suppressing chronic IBD, and cancer of the bowel.
GDNP’s specifically target the effected colonic tissue of a patient, generate proteins that help curb inflammation, and reduce the proteins that cause it. The ginger root naturally includes the fatty molecule – lipid – phosphoditic acid, a fundamental component of cell membranes which further encourage the healing of tissue.
While additional clinical trails are necessary, including extensive research on humans, GDNP’s would represent a quantum leap in the struggle against IBD. Though there is no current projection for when this treatment may become available to patients, initial results have suggested that at least it eventually will be so.