A new study has shown that a Chinese herbal remedies made from the roots of blue evergreen hydrangea may help in the treatment of autoimmune disorders. The herb, Chang Shan, weakens the abnormal immune response characteristic of autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and psoriasis. Researchers suggest that halofuginone (HF), the active ingredient in the herb, inhibits the development of harmful immune cells called Th17 cells, without affecting the other functions of the system.
Animal studies on the effect of HF have shown that it provides protection against harmful Th17 cells without affecting the functioning of the immune system, in mice. The present study reports that the herbal extract, Chang Shan, triggers a chain of events in the immune function by allowing the cells to conserve the resources. By triggering this response by the cells, HF helps the cells to avoid the defective pathway in autoimmune disorders. This promises the development of a better treatment for these disorders.
Tracy Keller, researcher and instructor at Whitman’s lab, claims that this study shows the importance of solving the molecular mechanism of traditional herbal medicines. These will pave the way to develop new treatment approaches for many disorders.