HydrangeaRoot Shows Promise In Treating Autoimmune Disorders

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HydrangeaRoot Shows Promise In Treating Autoimmune Disorders

Postby scorpion » Fri Jun 05, 2009 8:29 am

Hydrangea Root Shows Promise In Treating Autoimmune Disorders
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Main Category: Immune System / Vaccines
Also Included In: Arthritis / Rheumatology; Diabetes; Multiple Sclerosis
Article Date: 05 Jun 2009 - 7:00 PDT


US researchers found that a drug made from the root of the hydrangea plant, which has for centuries been used in Chinese medicine, showed promising results in treating autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, type 1 diabetes, eczema and psoriasis.

The study was the work of researchers from the Program in Cellular and Molecular Medicine and the Immune Disease Institute at Children's Hospital Boston (PCMM/IDI), together with the Harvard School of Dental Medicine and is published in the 5 June issue of the journal Science.

An exciting new area in the field of autoimmune disease research is learning about the role of a particular immune system cell called the T helper 17 (Th17) which is genetically different from other types of CD4+ T cell like the Th1, Th2 and T-regulatory cells and appears to play a unique role in the part of the immune system that causes harm when it over-reacts.

The immune system is a complex of delicately balanced "seek and destroy" systems that recognize when something is wrong in the body and then trigger a response to repair the damage or eliminate foreign agents. However, when this delicate balance is disturbed, the responses switch on when there is nothing wrong, causing the immune system essentially to "attack" healthy tissue.

This is what happens in rheumatoid arthritis, where the overactive inflammatory response eventually destroys cartilage in the joints and even healthy tissue in places like the lungs or under the skin. Exactly how and why this happens is still a mystery, but the more scientist look into it, the more they discover that immune cells like the Th17 are involved in unique ways.

In this study, the authors report how a small molecule called halofuginone (extracted from hydrangea root) selectively stops Th17 cells being made, without affecting the other CD4+ T cells, thus showing how it might be possible to stop the immune system from over-producing harmful Th17 cell responses.

They also showed that halofuginone reduced disease symptoms in mice bred with autoimmune disorders.

In the body, cytokines cause Th17 cells to differentiate from other CD4+ T cells, but when the researchers collected cultured mouse CD4+ T cells along with the cytokines, they found that adding halofuginone made levels of Th17 go down significantly but not Th1, Th2 or T regulatory cells.

They also found a similar effect in cultured human CD4+ T-cells: halofuginone selectively stopped production of IL-17, the principal cytokine made by Th17 cells.

The reason this discovery is important is because there are currently no good treatments for autoimmune disorders because you can't get in there and turn down just the inflammatory process without also turning down the protective processes that for instance protect patients from infections.

The main treatments currently rely on antibodies that neutralize cytokines, the chemical messengers that T cells use to control immune fuction and inflammatory responses.

But antibodies are expensive, have to be injected and/or infused, and don't actually solve the root cause of the problem, they just mop up cytokines rather than stop them being produced in the first place. So patients have to keep coming back for infusions to keep the inflammation under control.

As a last resort you can give patients drugs that completely suppress the immune system but for obvious reasons this is very risky.

In this study the researchers appear to have found a way, using halofuginone as the fine tuning tool, to selectively reduce production of Th17 cells and thereby only switching off the inflammatory response without altering the function of other parts of the immune system. The other good thing about this discovery is that halofuginone can be taken by mouth: no injection necessary.

First author Dr Mark Sundrud, of the PCMM/IDI, said:

"This is really the first description of a small molecule that interferes with autoimmune pathology but is not a general immune suppressant."
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Postby peekaboo » Fri Jun 05, 2009 12:40 pm

First author Dr Mark Sundrud, of the PCMM/IDI, said:

"This is really the first description of a small molecule that interferes with autoimmune pathology but is not a general immune suppressant."


this is good news...never like the chemo way...i like my hair too much :wink:
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Postby gainsbourg » Mon Jun 08, 2009 4:16 pm

This is amazing news! Sounds too good to be true but I just looked up the study and it seems to have been carried out really thoroughly by a team at Harvard University.

It would be ironic if a plant as common as the hydrangea turned out to be the greatest natural remedy against MS so far. Right under our noses. I hope it is not too long before they carry out human studies to back up these amazing findings.

From what I have read, the active ingredient halofuginone does not inhibit the body's normal immune response, it only targets the white cells that are responsible for autoimmune inflammatory response. This is the first drug ever to achieve this. Revolutionary!

Maybe I should go out into the garden right now and dig up a few hydrangea roots! Apparently in chinese medicine the herb is called CHANG SHAN and comes from the root of the blue evergreen hydrangea.



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Postby marcstck » Mon Jun 08, 2009 6:13 pm

Don't hold your breath on this compound hitting the market anytime soon. This is from the article about it that appeared in Forbes magazine:

Because the compound is now in the public domain, the pharmaceutical industry has not shown interest in further developing it therapeutically, researchers said.


No profit potential means no further development. Until the research model in the United States, in which 70% is funded by big Pharma, is fundamentally changed, we will continue to see potentially beneficial therapies abandoned because they lack the potential to be "blockbuster drugs"...

The free market is a terrific engine for driving an economy, but not for advancing medical research...
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Postby patientx » Tue Jun 09, 2009 3:52 am

marcstck wrote:Don't hold your breath on this compound hitting the market anytime soon. This is from the article about it that appeared in Forbes magazine:

Because the compound is now in the public domain, the pharmaceutical industry has not shown interest in further developing it therapeutically, researchers said.


No profit potential means no further development. Until the research model in the United States, in which 70% is funded by big Pharma, is fundamentally changed, we will continue to see potentially beneficial therapies abandoned because they lack the potential to be "blockbuster drugs"...

The free market is a terrific engine for driving an economy, but not for advancing medical research...


I thought this was the purpose of the NMSS and NIH.
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Postby whyRwehere » Tue Jun 09, 2009 5:07 am

It would be interesting to hear if the researchers were going to continue on, despite the low/no pay. Perhaps they could give us a few tips...
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Postby peekaboo » Tue Jun 09, 2009 9:58 am

is anyone willing to try chan shan?
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Postby gainsbourg » Tue Jun 09, 2009 11:17 am

Unfortunately it seems it's not quite as straight forward as just taking chang shan, or brewing up your own hydrangea roots. One of the active ingredients in chang shan is febrifugine. Halofuginone is actually a derivative of febrifugine.

Chang shan itself can be quite toxic (mind you so are many pharmaceutical MS drugs). Apparently halofuginone was extracted to avoid the laxative and toxic effects of febrifugine. Chang shan is never prescribed on its own. It is mainly used as an anti malarial (much more effective than quinine) and can cool a fever more effectively than asprin. I'm not sure if the chinese know about its ability to supress autoimmune activity. There's a lot more about it here

Of course this doesn't mean it won't be effective by itself... if you can tolerate the side effects


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Postby ElMarino » Tue Jun 16, 2009 5:17 am

Of course this doesn't mean it won't be effective by itself... if you can tolerate the side effects


The side effects sound pretty horrendous!

It is incredibly frustrating to reead that a hydrangea root can help ms and to then discover that the root itself is poisonous and that the analogous synthesised active ingredient will probably never be researched further in the context of this illness..
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Postby Frank » Thu Jun 18, 2009 5:28 am

Unfortunately I cant remember the source, but I'm sure I read that new research has found that Th-17 immune cell actually do NOT play a role in MS. I cant even remember how exacly they came to this conclusion, but it would be worth investigating for everyone interested in that form of treatment.

--Frank
Treatment: Gilenya since 01/2011, CCSVI both IJV ballooned 09/2010, Tysabri stopped after 24 Infusions and positive JCV antibody test, after LDN, ABX Wheldon Regime for 1 year.
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