Dong quai (A. sinensis) is a herb that has been known for years to slow down the progression of osteoarthritis, but the mechanism has never been entirely clear. This study seems to show that the herb is not a simple anti-inflammatory as previously thought, but seems to actually inhibit the degradation of cartilage.
The study set out to investigate the anti-osteoarthritic activities of the polysaccharide APS-3c in dong quai, which has previously been shown to protect rat cartilage from degrading. This was tested in vitro, and the researchers also looked at the gene expression of certain sugars, IGF-1, and IGF1R. The latter two compounds are key protective factors of cartilage.
It was found that APS-3c stimulates the expression of IGF-1 and IGF1R. The combined action of these compounds is what actually inhibits cartilage damage.
What Does This Mean?
This means that consuming dong quai has the potential to have far more lasting health benefits than some other treatments for osteoarthritis, which tend to simply deal with the pain. By inhibiting cartilage damage, dong quai is effective at actually slowing down the progression of the disease, and this could mean that sufferers can maintain normal functioning for longer, without having to deal with the pain that accompanies osteoarthritis.
- PLOS ONE, Angelica sinensis polysaccharides stimulated UDP-sugar synthase genes through promoting gene expression of IGF-1 and IGF1R in chondrocytes: promoting anti-osteoarthritic activity, 2014