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Chinese Herbal Treatment May Help People With Autoimmune Disorders

A traditional Chinese herb that has been used for hundreds of years may be helpful in treating autoimmune disorders. According to a study by researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), the Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HSDM), the chang shan herb contains a component that blocks inflammatory cells that appear to play a major role in developing these disorders.

Just What Are Autoimmune Disorders?

According to the National Institutes of Health, an autoimmune disorder occurs when the immune system mistakes and attacks health body tissue. It may result in destruction of tissue, abnormal growth of an organ, or change in organ function. Some autoimmune disorders include multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and juvenile diabetes. There are upwards of 80 such diseases.

Fish oil, a natural anti-inflammatory, has been recommended or prescribed for many conditions caused by the disorder. However a recent study suggests that fish oil is not beneficial for multiple sclerosis. It is therefore welcome news that another natural remedy may be helpful for this often debilitating condition.

In fact, chang shan, also known as dichroa febrifuga or dichroa root, is said to be more effective than known pharmaceutical drugs.

Chang shan is a root extract of a specific type of Himalayan hydrangea plant, also known as hortensia, that has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat malaria and other maladies. And a new investigation conducted by researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), the Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HSDM), and elsewhere has revealed that this powerful natural medicine is also useful in treating autoimmune disorders.

In an effort to better understand the therapeutic benefits of chang shan, the team evaluated its active components and observed that one component in particular, halofuginone (HF), blocks the development of T helper 17 (Th17) cells. Th17 cells are highly inflammatory cells that appear to play a primary role in the development of autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, juvenile diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease.

Building upon previous research that identified how HF activates the body’s amino acid response (AAR) pathway, the team was able to identify that HF specifically targets and blocks an enzyme known as tRNA synthetase EPRS, which is responsible for incorporating proline, an amino acid, into cells. This blockage essentially tells the AAR not to activate the inflammatory immune responses associated with autoimmune disorders. See original story

The Chinese herb Chang Shan’s to have anti-cancer properties. Not surprisingly, it has also been used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis. It has also been used to treat malaria. It is surprising that such an apparently useful/promising herb is not widely known. Chan shang supplements are available through various online supplements stores.

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