Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Frankincense as a Medicine

09.07.2012
Pharmacists of University Jena clarify the anti-inflammatory impact of boswellic acids

It was one of the gifts of the Magi – in addition to myrrh and gold they offered frankincense to the newly born baby Jesus. Since the ancient world the aromatic fragrance of burning Boswellia resin has been part of many religious ceremonies and is still used as a means to indicate special festive atmosphere in the church today.

But frankincense can do much more: “The resin from the trunk of Boswellia trees contains anti-inflammatory substances,“ Professor Dr. Oliver Werz of the Friedrich Schiller University Jena (Germany) says. The chair of Pharmaceutical and Medical Chemistry is convinced that these substances can be very beneficial in therapies against diseases like asthma, rheumatoid arthritis or atopic dermatitis.

However, so far the active substances in frankincense cannot at present be found in drugs in German pharmacies, as the pharmacological impact of frankincense hasn’t been thoroughly investigated. “Although Boswellia resin has been used for thousands of years in the Ayurvedic medicine for instance, the clinical studies we have so far are not suffice for a license in Germany and Europe,“ Professor Werz explains.

But that could change. As part of a mutual project with partners of the University Saarbrücken and a start-up company, Professor Werz and his team examined the curative effect of frankincense. In this project the researchers were able to show where exactly the boswellic acids – which are responsible for the impact of the ingredients of the Boswellia resin – actually interfere in the process of inflammation. “Boswellic acids interact with several different proteins that are part of inflammatory reactions, but most of all with an enzyme which is responsible for the synthesis of prostaglandin E2,” Oliver Werz points out. Prostaglandin E2 is one of the mediators of the immune response and plays a decisive role in the process of inflammation, in the development of fever and of pain. ”Boswellic acids block this enzyme efficiently and thereby reduce the inflammatory reaction,“ the Jena pharmacist explains. With this, not only a targeted use in the therapy of inflammatory diseases is conceivable. It can also be expected that boswellic acids have less side effects than today’s prevalent anti-inflammatory treatments like diclofenac or indometacin. Their impact is less specific, they can increase the risk of stomach ulcers and can negatively affect renal function.

In their latest study the researchers around Professor Werz additionally compared the resin of different kinds of frankincense in its anti-inflammatory impact. There are more than ten Boswellia species in the world. The most well-known and widely-used one is the Boswellia serrata from Northern and central India. “We were able to show that the resin of the Boswellia papyrifera is ten times more potent,” Professor Werz explains a further result of his research. This species mostly occurs in the Northeast of Africa (Ethiopia, Somalia) and on the Arabian Peninsula (Yemen, Oman).

Whether frankincense will become accepted, is indeed not only due to the outcome of the clinical examination which is yet to come. “Boswellic acids exclusively occur in the resin of Boswellia trees and are very difficult to produce synthetically,“ Werz points out. Therefore these trees are the only source of these promising active ingredients. However Boswellia trees are already an endangered tree species. In many places they are just being used as heating fuel. “Thereby without sustained protection not only plant species are endangered but at the same time medicine loses promising active ingredients,” Professor Werz warns.

Contact:
Professor Dr. Oliver Werz
Institute of Pharmacy
Friedrich Schiller University Jena
Philosophenweg 14, D-07743 Jena
Germany
Phone: ++49 3641 949801
Email: oliver.werz[at]uni-jena.de

Dr. Ute Schönfelder | idw
Further information:
http://www.uni-jena.de/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery
20.01.2017 | GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH

nachricht Seeking structure with metagenome sequences
20.01.2017 | DOE/Joint Genome Institute

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>