Saturday 23 December 2023

Thai black ginger found to delay arthritis progression and suppress inflammation

 Kaempferia parviflora, commonly known as Thai black ginger or Thai ginseng, is a medicinal plant that belongs to the ginger family. Native to Thailand, Malaysia, Borneo and the Sumatra island in Indonesia, the rhizome of this herbaceous plant has been used as folk medicine for thousands of years.

The Hmong hill tribe, one of the largest ethnic groups in Northern Thailand, believes that taking Thai black ginger can improve physical performance. The herb is also traditionally used to enhance sexual performance and treat all kinds of ailments, such as allergies, abscesses, gout, hypertension, general pains and ulcer.

According to studies, Thai black ginger has many health-supporting properties, such as antiallergic, anti-inflammatory, antidepressant, antimicrobial, anticancer, anti-obesity and cardioprotective activities. These properties can be attributed to the presence of two major flavonoids in Thai black ginger, namely, 5,7-dimethoxyflavone (DMF) and 5,7,4?-trimethoxyflavone (TMF).

Research published in the journal Heliyon suggests that DMF is one of the polymethoxyflavones behind Thai black ginger's ability to enhance physical performance and muscle endurance. DMF has also been shown to support healthy energy metabolism in animal studies.

TMF, on the other hand, has been identified as a natural vasorelaxant -- that is, a substance that can induce blood vessel relaxation. In a study published in the International Journal of Pharmacology, researchers found that TMF plays an important role in Thai black ginger's antihypertensive effects.

Thai black ginger compounds can protect against arthritis

DMF and TMF are also responsible for Thai black ginger's anti-arthritic effects. A study published in the journal Molecules reported that Thai black ginger extract is a promising natural treatment for arthritis, thanks to the biological activities of DMF and TMF. A third compound, 5,7,3?,4?-tetramethoxyflavone (TeMF), was also highlighted as a contributor to Thai black ginger's anti-arthritic activities.

To understand how Thai black ginger and its three major components work, researchers conducted experiments on three models: a rat arthritis model, a cartilage explant model isolated from fresh pigs' feet, and a cell culture model using a human chondrosarcoma cell line. The researchers reported that treatment with Thai black ginger extract containing DMF, TMF and TeMF reduced arthritis indices in rats with Freund’s adjuvant-induced arthritis.

In the cartilage explant model, treatment with the same extract resulted in chondroprotection, which the researchers noted was achieved by suppressing the release of sulfated glycosaminoglycans. These polysaccharides are important structural components of cartilage, the flexible connective tissue that protects your bones and joints.

Protecting articular cartilage (chondroprotection) is said to be a viable strategy for preventing the progression of osteoarthritis and loss of function of joints. Osteoarthritis is a form of arthritis characterized by pain, joint stiffness and lack of mobility resulting from the degradation of cartilage, abnormal changes in bone shape and inflammation. 

In human chondrocytes, the researchers found that DMF, TMF and TeMF suppressed the expression of genes associated with inflammatory arthritis. These Thai black ginger compounds also inhibited two crucial signaling pathways for arthritis, namely, NF-?B and MAPK, which are involved in inflammation and apoptosis (programmed cell death), respectively.

According to an earlier study by Japanese researchers, DMF and TMF in Thai black ginger can also , as well as matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). MMPs are the main enzymes responsible for the degenerative changes in cartilage associated with arthritis. They are also said to play a role in inflammation.

Meanwhile, TeMF in Thai black ginger has been shown to reduce the levels of pro-inflammatory signaling molecules in rats with osteoarthritis. TeMF can also decrease the rate of apoptosis of chondrocytes, the cells responsible for cartilage formation. 

Taken together, these findings suggest that Thai black ginger can not only alleviate inflammation associated with arthritis but also delay the development and progression of the disease. Aberrant apoptosis of relevant cells in joints, which is inhibited by the active compounds in Thai black ginger, has been implicated in the pathogenesis of arthritis.

Thai black ginger is a powerful herb that can be used as a natural remedy for various ailments, including arthritis. You can take Thai black ginger in supplement form or use the raw herb to make an herbal tea. Thai black ginger can also be incorporated into a wide variety of recipes. For your safety, consult with a natural health practitioner on how best to maximize Thai black ginger's benefits.

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