Ginger adds zing to food and now Columbia University researchers think it might also bring relief to asthma sufferers.
Asthma is characterized by bronchoconstriction, a tightening of the bronchial tubes that carry air into and out of the lungs. Bronchodilating medications (known as beta-agonists) are among the most common types of asthma medications and work by relaxing the airway smooth muscle tissues. This new study looked at whether specific components of ginger could help enhance the relaxing effects of bronchodilators.
The researchers found that a combination of purified ginger components and the beta-agonist isoproterenol exhibited significantly greater muscle relaxation than those treated only with isoproterenol.
"Asthma has become more prevalent in recent years, but despite an improved understanding of what causes asthma and how it develops, during the past 40 years few new treatment agents have been approved for targeting asthma symptoms," said lead researcher Elizabeth Townsend. "In our study, we demonstrated that purified components of ginger can work synergistically with beta-agonists to relax ASM [airway smooth muscle]."
The researchers now want to gain a better understanding of the cellular mechanisms that facilitate airway smooth muscle relaxation and to determine whether aerosol delivery of these purified constituents of ginger may have therapeutic benefit in asthma and other bronchoconstrictive diseases.
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Source: American Thoracic Society