A bean commonly found in Chinese food protects people against the potentially fatal condition sepsis.

The finding, published in the current issue of Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (eCAM), came from a team of experts at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research.

HMGB1, a deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) protein, is responsible for regulating inflammation. Inflammation is critical in order to have good health – it is the body’s way of protecting itself. Without it, infections and woulds would not be able to heal.

On the other hand, if inflammation is persistent and constant, it can cause harm to tissue and organs and eventually result in diseases, including sepsis.

Each year, an estimated 750,000 people in the United States are affected by Sepsis, costing the country’s health care system almost $17 billion. Unfortunately, the disease takes the lives of 28 to 50% of those people. Previous research showed that although sepsis is the leading cause of death in U.S. hospitals, 66% of Americans reported to never had heard of the word ‘sepsis’.

Sepsis results when there is a complication of an infection or injury – when chemicals are let out into the bloodstream to try to kill the infection initiate inflammation throughout the body. The organs then become harmed, including the heart, lungs, liver, kidney, and even brain.

The organs may be irreparable if they are severely damaged. For this reason, it is critical to determine ways to stop persistent and constant inflammation.

People can be protected against this inflammation that causes harm to the body’s tissue and organs if the protein HMGB1 is counteracted, the team noted.

Researcher leader Haichao Wang, Ph.D., and his team, including Shu Zhu, M.D. and Ph.D., and Andrew E. Sama, M.D., discovered that a bean native to India known as mung bean (Vigna radiate), commonly used in Chinese food and conventional medicine, significantly reduced the release of this protein.

After experimenting on mice, results showed that their survival rates increased from 29.4% to 70% (P< 0.05).

Dr. Wang concluded:

“Many traditional medicinal herbs have been successfully developed into effective therapies for various inflammatory ailments, and now we have validated the therapeutic potential of another medicinal product, mung bean extract.

Demonstrating that mung bean extract has a positive effect on septic mice shows promise that this bean can also have a positive effect on septic humans – of course, additional studies are required to prove the safe and effective use in humans.”

Written by Sarah Glynn