ATLANTA, Aug. 17 (UPI) -- Ginger is often used for flavor while cooking, as well as to ease nausea, but researchers found nanoparticles derived from the root may have healing effects that ease inflammatory bowel disease, according to a new study.
Researchers at Georgia State University found ginger-derived nanoparticles reduced inflammation and enhanced intestinal repair in mice with IBD-type symptoms, suggesting it could be used for treatment of conditions like Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis in humans.
Previous studies have shown compounds in ginger, including 6-gingerol and 6-shogaol, are active against oxidation, inflammation and cancer, in addition to ginger's centuries-long use against nausea and other digestion problems.
Researchers at Georgia State have been working to find plant-derived edible nanoparticles for use against disease, according to a press release, and looked toward ginger based on its well-known uses.
For the study, published in the journal Biomaterials, researchers blended ginger in a standard kitchen blender, then used super-high-speed centrifuging and ultrasonic dispersion to break the ginger into single pellets about 230 nanometers in diameter -- more than 300 times smaller than the width of a human hair.
In mice treated with the ginger nano-pellets, the researchers found their colons were efficiently targeted and the nanoparticles were absorbed mainly by cells in the lining of the intestine where IBD occurs. The particles reduced inflammation linked to colitis, as well as colitis-associated cancer.
The ginger also helped in the repair of the intestines, boosting survival and proliferation of healthy cells and lowering proteins that promote inflammation, preventing inflammation and the body's reaction to it.
"Nanoparticles derived from edible ginger, represent a novel, natural delivery mechanism for improving IBD prevention and treatment with an added benefit of overcoming limitations such as potential toxicity and limited production scale that are common with synthetic nanoparticles," the researchers wrote in the study.