Boswellia serrata (Indian frankincense) is a herb which has the gum resin extract used for therapeutic purposes related to systemic and topical inflammation. In laboratory animals, boswellic acid inhibited an enzyme that is important in the process of inflammation, and it for this reason decreases swelling caused by chemicals or arthritis. Unlike NSAID’s (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), boswellia fights inflammation by blocking pro-inflammatory 5-lipoxygenase (5-LOX). Until now, the only anti-inflammatory compounds that have been found to inhibit both HLE and 5-LOX are those derived from boswellia.
Natural Anti-inflammatory Boswellia
The important component is boswellic acid, which was shown in animal-based studies to be a strong 5-lipoxygenase (5-LOX) inhibitor with anti-inflammatory and antiarthritic activities. These anti-inflammatory activities have been studied for their effects in osteoarthritis, and it appears that oral boswellia extract can suppress pain and immobility associated with osteoarthritis quite significantly with the effects taking as little as a week to occur. AKBA (3-O-acetyl-11-keto-B-boswellic acid), is a strong, natural inhibitor of pain mediators, including 5-LOX and the protein that activates 5-LOX, as well as of TNF-alpha, as showed by several blood markers. Also, it destroys the activity of certain matrix metalloproteinases, in particular that of MMP-3, thus protecting cartilage from breakdown of collagen, an important component in connective tissue. Boswellia extract, while providing effective in the treatment of different chronic inflammatory conditions, produces none of the common side-effects associated with conventional non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and Voltaren.
Standardised extract of boswellia is mainly used for its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects, which make it particularly effective for treating decreased joint mobility and flexibility. In a study that published in the Jan 2003 edition of “Phytomedicine”, people with osteoarthritis of the knee took boswellia extract for 8 weeks. Participants experienced reduction pain, reduction frequency in swelling, increased knee bending ability and increased walking distance. In a Sept 2011 study reported in “Osteoarthritis and Cartilage“, curcumin and boswellia were compared to the prescription drug celecoxib in individuals with osteoarthritis. This combination provided better pain relief and distance walked without pain, and equaled the drug for improving joint flexibility. In one study of 175 participants confined to bed, 67% reported improvements in various parameters; morning stiffness, pain, and ability to carry out daily activities. Two placebo-controlled studies, involving a total of 81 patient with rheumatoid arthritis, reportedly found important reductions in swelling and pain over the course of three months.
In a study, involving triterpenes in boswellic acid reduce the synthesis of leukotrienes in intact neutrophils by inhibiting 5-lipoxygenase, the key enzyme involved in the biosynthesis of leukotrienes, which mediate inflammation. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 30 patients were given either 1,000 mg boswellia daily or placebo in three divided doses for 8 weeks. Patients in the boswellia group experienced a important reduction in pain and swelling and increase in range of motion compared to placebo. In a study reported in the journal Arthritis Research and Therapy in 2008, participants who consumed the boswellia extract experienced a important improvement in their arthritis symptoms compared to those who took a placebo.
One of the most powerful extract of boswellia available as a supplement is a patent pending standardized extract called 5-LOXIN™. 5-Loxin is made in such a way as to standardized the extract for 30% AKBA, 10 times more concentrated than typical boswellia. In an animal-based study comparing the efficacy of 5-Loxin to that of the prescription anti-inflammatory medication ibuprofen, 5-Loxin produced a 27% diminution in inflammation, compared to 35% for ibuprofen. In another study comparing5-Loxin to the anti-inflammatory medication prednisone found that 5-Loxin produced a 55% diminution in inflammation, similar to the effects of prednisone. In 1998 a 90-day double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study of 5-Loxin was undertaken with 75 osteoarthritis patients. Within 7 days the 250 mg group had a important decrease in joint pain. At the end of the study, both doses of 5-Loxin conferred statistically and clinically significant improvements in pain scores and physical function scores.