One traditional Chinese medicine root extract, Chang shan is a specific type of hydrangea plant indigenous to the Himalayan region. It is commonly known as hortensia and has been used for thousands of years as a treatment for maladies such as malaria. In a new clinical study conducted by researchers from the Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HSDM) and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) it was revealed that hortensia can be used as a treatment for autoimmune disorders.
The team evaluated the active components of this plant and observed its effects in an effort to better understand its therapeutic benefits. A component in the herb known as halofuginone (HF), has been found to interfere with the development of (Th17) T helper 17 cells. These are highly inflammatory cells that seem to play a major role in the development of Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile diabetes, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, and other autoimmune disorders.
Improving upon the previous studies that detected how HF activates the amino acid response (AAR) pathway in the body, the team was able to see how HF specifically inhibits and targets an enzyme known as tRNA synthetase EPRS, which controls the integration of proline, an amino acid, into cells. This inhibition in a way tells the AAR not to activate the inflammatory immune responses related to the autoimmune conditions.
One senior author of the study, a developmental biology professor, Malcolm Whitman of the HSDM stated that without dampening immunity altogether, HF inhibits the autoimmune response. HF could help spur the development of new treatment approaches to a several autoimmune disorders.
HF, unlike a lot of herbs that possess few therapeutic qualities, has immune-inhibiting and anti-inflammatory properties that not only addresses autoimmune pathology but treats the conditions of the entire immune system, as well. Including HF to a treatment can both enhance natural immunity and fight autoimmune disorders, which make it an effective and safe natural treatment that has no equal to any pharmaceutical drug.
Hortensia is also a potent anti-cancer nutrient
Besides the above-mentioned benefits of hortensia or chang shan, in 2011, University of Sao Paulo researchers found that HF has also the ability to fight leukemia. It not only hinders the ability of leukemia cells to metastasize to other parts of the body, it also induces cell death or apoptosis to these cancer cells.
In a study done in 2003 printed in the Clinical Cancer Research journal, it was found that HF possesses specific anti-tumor qualities that help treat various types of cancers other than leukemia. Based on the results, HF tends to prevent the advancement of both prostate cancer tumors and bladder carcinoma and can even serve as a preventative treatment that stops the initial development of these and other types of cancers.
Hortensia also known as chang shan, dichroa root or dichroa febrifuga, can be bought online or at health food stores and in both powder extract or liquid forms. Talk to a qualified TCM practitioner if you want to know more about hortensia and how it might be able to help you.
Scott Paglia is a licensed and board certified acupuncturist in Bellingham, WA and provides master level pulse diagnosis, Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture in Whatcom County, WA.