The National Institutes of Health (NIH), through the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), awarded $1 million to Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University (OSU); Helfgott Research Institute at National University of Natural Medicine (NUNM); and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), a U.S. Department of Energy research laboratory in Richland, WA, for a collaborative integrative clinical research study investigating the potential of a diet-derived therapeutic to target inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and the microbial imbalance contributing to the inflammation in IBD.
The NCCIH four-year R01 research project aims to understand how a compound called xanthohumol, from the flowers of the hop plant (Humulus lupulus), may reduce the severity of inflammation in IBD. Hops, more commonly associated as a flavoring ingredient in beer, are also used in botanical medicine.
IBD is increasing worldwide and has become a global emergence disease, most prevalent in developing countries. It includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated three million people (1.3 percent of U.S. adults) were diagnosed with IBD in 2015, a large increase from 1999. This increase is especially notable because IBD increases risks of colorectal cancer. IBD is also affecting more and more children, and between 2000 and 2009 the number of children hospitalized due to IBD grew by 64 percent.
Current therapies for IBD are very limited and often include steroids and other anti-inflammatories that have systemic side effects. These limitations underscore the need for new therapeutic modalities that both target the inflamed gut and the microbial imbalance causing the inflammation.
NUNM’s Helfgott Research Institute will receive just over $300,000 to host and conduct the clinical trials. Director of the Helfgott Research Institute, Ryan D. Bradley, ND, MPH, is the study’s principal investigator at NUNM. The remaining funds will be shared by OSU and PNNL to assist with measurements and analysis of test results. The NIH R01 is the first research grant of its type to be awarded to NUNM, and one of very few to be awarded to a naturopathic doctor at a medical school. NUNM has received over $3 million in funding from the NIH since 2015.
NUNM President David J. Schleich, PhD, noted that NUNM’s Helfgott Research Institute has developed strong research partnerships with a number of medical schools and research labs, such as OSU, Oregon Health & Science University, the University of Washington (UW) and others. “We’re very proud of Dr. Bradley and the work he’s doing. All of our students and graduates benefit greatly from the reputation Helfgott has earned over the years from NIH grants like this one,” said Schleich. “Our students learn solid research methods at NUNM from some of the best researcher investigators in the nation. Many are going on after graduation to do more research, contributing to the strong evidence base for natural medicine.”