Ginger benefits for asthma sufferers

Ginger benefits for asthma sufferers was recently researched. Ginger extracts have been demonstrated to ease symptoms of asthma. A new study shows that asthma sufferers experiencing the characteristic tightening of the bronchial tubes could find the effects of their bronchodilator medications to be enhanced by compounds occurring in ginger.

Reported in the US health and lifestyle magazine Allergic Living, the recent study conducted at Columbia University in New York showed that purified components of the kitchen staple, ginger, have properties that can help asthma patients to breathe more easily. According to the study’s lead author, Elizabeth Townsend, a post-doctoral research fellow in the university’s Department of Anesthesiology, ‘Asthma has become more prevalent in recent years, but despite an improved understanding of what causes it and how it develops, during the past 40 years few new treatment agents have been approved for targeting asthma symptoms. In our study, we demonstrated that purified components of ginger can work synergistically with beta-agonists to relax the airway smooth muscle (ASM).’

Asthma sufferers are all too familiar with spasms during which their bronchial tubes, which carry air in and out of the lungs, become tight, impairing their breathing. This condition, known as bronchoconstriction, is commonly eased by bronchodilating medications called beta-agonists, which ease the passage of air by relaxing the ASM tissues.
Ginger has for centuries been used to ease breathing problems associated with colds and allergies, and the research team investigated to see whether specific components of ginger could help enhance the relaxing effects of bronchodilators, with benefits for asthma sufferers.

To conduct their study, the researchers took human ASM tissue samples and caused the samples to contract by exposing them to acetylcholine, a neurotransmitting compound that causes bronchoconstriction. Then they mixed the beta-agonist isoproterenol with three separate components of ginger. Results showed that tissues treated with the combination of purified ginger components and isoproterenol exhibited significantly greater relaxation than those treated only with isoproterenol. One of the three ginger compounds, 6-shogaol, appeared most effective in increasing the relaxing effects of the beta-agonist.

The data show that, when taken together with a beta-agonist, ginger compounds may indeed provide additional relief from asthma symptoms, adding a small nod of approval to those long-ago physicians. The results of the study will be presented at the American Thoracic Society 2013 International Conference.

Read more about ginger in our herb library or buy Ginger capsules.

Photo by Foaunrw (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons