In the News: A Chinese Herb May Aid in Treatment of Autoimmune Disorders

http://www.motherearthliving.com/Natural-Health/in-the-news-chinese-herb-treatment-of-autoimmune-disorders.aspx

J.PattonThe roots of a Chinese herb, the blue evergreen hydrangea, help with the treatment of autoimmune disorders, according to a new study.

An autoimmune disorder occurs when the immune system can’t tell the difference between healthy body tissue and antigens. Antigens are harmful substances that seek to attack the immune system, such as viruses, cancer cells and bacteria. So, the immune system attacks and destroys healthy body tissue by mistake.

Currently, there are more than 80 known autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis. To date, there are no preventative measures known to lower your chances of developing an autoimmune disorder. Symptoms include fatigue, fever and general ill-feeling.

12-15-2012-hydrangea 
The roots of the blue evergreen hydrangea may aid in developing a treatment for autoimmune disorders.
Photo by Chickens in the Trees/Courtesy
Flickr 

Researchers found that the blue evergreen hydrangea, also known as Chang Shan, may weaken the immune response that occurs in many autoimmune disorders.

Here’s how it works: The active ingredient in Chang Shan, called halofuginone (HF), stops the development of a dangerous type of immune cell called Th17 cells. When it stops the production of Th17 cells, HF prevents the harmful autoimmune response and allows the rest of the immune system to continue running properly.

So far, Chang Shan has only been tested on mice, but researchers are hopeful that this new discovery will help them come up with safe, efficient treatments for people with autoimmune diseases.