Not All Botanical Extracts of Boswellia serrata for inflammation Are Created Equal

posted Oct 4, 2013, 11:13 AM by Rene Bayani

The resin of Boswellia species (‘frankincense’, ‘olibanum’) has been used as incense in religious and cultural ceremonies since time immemorial. Its medicinal properties are also widely recognized, mainly for the treatment of inflammatory conditions, as well as in some cancerous diseases, wound healing and its antimicrobial activity. Despite its historical, religious, cultural and medicinal importance, Boswellia has not been thoroughly studied, and gaps still exist between our knowledge of the traditional uses of the resin and the scientific data available.

Gum-resin extracts of Boswellia serrata have been traditionally used in folk medicine for centuries to treat various chronic inflammatory diseases. The resinous part of Boswellia serrata possesses monoterpenes, diterpenes, triterpenes, tetracyclic triterpenic acids and four major pentacyclic triterpenic acids i.e. β-boswellic acid, acetyl-β-boswellic acid, 11-keto-β-boswellic acid and acetyl-11-keto-β-boswellic acid, responsible for inhibition of pro-inflammatory enzymes. Out of these four boswellic acids, the Acetyl-11-Keto-β-Boswellic Acid (Boswellia serrate AKBA) is the most potent inhibitor of 5-lipoxygenase, an enzyme which is primarily responsible for inflammation. The Health Naturally Arthricept products contain the clinically effective level of the Boswellia serrate AKBA.

Traditional system of medicine continues to be widely practiced for various reasons. Fast population-growth, inadequate supply of branded medicines, alarmingly prohibitive cost of treatment, adverse side-effects of several allopathic drugs and ever-increasing resistance to current drugs for infectious diseases have led to growing emphasis on the use of plant-materials as a source of medicines for a wide variety of human ailments. However, a sustained and uninterrupted supply of the source-materials often becomes difficult due to various factors like environmental variations, local cultural practices, diverse geographical distribution, increasing labor-cost, non-selection/improper selection of the suitable plant-stock and prevalent exploitative practices by pharmaceutical industry. A fully integrated approach for the cultivation, conservation and preservation of important plant-species through plant molecular biology, plant-tissue culture techniques, both extensive and intensive research on the rationality and methodology of Ayurvedic practices, isolation of the active constituents and their development into new therapeutics, standardization and validation of known herbal medicines and other related aspects need to be continuously focused upon. In fact, the time has come when our medicinal discoveries must move in mighty leaps and bounds, if the human race is to be saved from the onslaughts of continuously multiplying chronic maladies.