Asthma is characterized by broncho-constriction, the tightening of the bronchial tubes that carry air into and out of the lungs.
Medications that help with broncho-dilation are the most common types of asthma medications, and they work by relaxing the airway smooth muscle (ASM) tissue.
Researchers from Columbia University, New York, examined if specific components of ginger helps in improving relaxing effects of bronchodilators.
Asthma is more prevalent in recent years. The study demonstrated that purified components of ginger can work synergistically with beta-agonists to relax ASM, said Townsend.
For their study, the researchers took human ASM tissue samples, and caused them to contract through exposure to acetylcholine, a neurotransmitting compound that causes broncho-constriction.
The researchers then mixed the beta agonist, isoproretenol, with three different components of ginger, 6-gingerol, 8-gingerol or 6-shogaol. The contracted tissue samples were then exposed to each of these mixtures and unadulterated isoproterenol and the relaxation responses were recorded and compared.
Results showed that tissues treated with ginger components and isoproterenol showed considerable relaxation, than those treated only with isoproterenol. As for the ginger components, 6-Shogaol showed maximum relaxing effects in speedily dissolving the filament.
On the whole, data showed that ginger constituents, which include 6-ginger, 8-gingerol and 6 shogaol act synergetically with beta-agonist in relaxing ASM. It indicates that the compounds may produce additional relief of asthma symptoms when used together with beta-agonists, Townsend said.
The results of the study will be presented at the American Thoracic Society 2013 International Conference.