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Boswellic acid

  Boswellic acids are a series of pentacyclic triterpene molecules which are produced by plants in the genus Boswellia. Like many other terpenes, boswellic acids appear in the resin of the plant which exudes them; it is estimated that they make up 30% of the resin of B. serrata.[1]


    The boswellic acids are organic acids, consisting of a pentacyclic triterpene, a carboxyl group and at least one other functional group. Alpha-boswellic acid and beta-boswellic acid, C30H48O3 both have an additional hydroxyl group; they differ only in their triterpene structure. Acetyl-alpha-boswellic acid and acetyl-beta-boswellic acid, C32H50O4, replace the hydroxyl group with an acetyl group.

Other boswellic acids include the keto-boswellic acids and their acetyl counterparts.


Beta-boswellic acid, keto-beta-boswellic acid and acetyl-keto-beta-boswellic acid have been implicated in apoptosis of cancer cells, particularly brain tumors and cells affected by leukemia or colon cancer.[2]

Acetyl-boswellic acids also exhibit anti-inflammatory behaviour by inhibiting leukotriene synthesis.[3] Specifically, it inhibits the activity of the enzyme 5-lipoxygenase through a non-redox reaction. Clinical trials[4][5] have investigated the effectiveness of boswellic acids in treating ulcerative colitis, but a study on chemically induced colitis in mouse models[6] showed little effectiveness. This latter study also linked large doses of boswellic acids to hepatotoxicity and increased lipid accumulation. Paradoxically, low doses of Boswellia serrata extract may have hepatoprotective effects.[7]

Boswellic acids are also thought to decrease the symptoms of asthma; a small 1998 placebo-controlled trial of Boswellia extract for the treatment of asthma showed good results.[8] Boswellia extracts are sold in tablet, capsule and tincture form, but no dosage guidelines have been developed. The risk of hepatotoxicity due to Boswellia administration has not been assessed.


  1. ^ SaluGenecists, Inc. Boswellia information.
  2. ^ Liu, Jian-Jun; Nilsson, A., Oredsson, S., Badmaev, V., Zhao, W., Duan, R. (December 2002). "Boswellic acids trigger apoptosis via a pathway dependent on caspase-8 activation but independent on Fas/Fas ligand interaction in colon cancer HT-29 cells". Carcinogenesis 23 (12): 2087-2093. Oxford University Press.
  3. ^ Ammon, HP; Safayi, H., Mack, T., Sabieraj, J. (1993). "Mechanism of antiinflammatory actions of curcumine and boswellic acids". Journal of Ethnopharmacology 38 (2-3): 113-9. International Society of Ethnopharmacology.
  4. ^ Ammon, HP (2002). "Boswellic acids (components of frankincense) as the active principle in treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases". Wien Medizinsche Wochenschrift 152 (15-16): 373-8. Springer-Verlag Wien.
  5. ^ Anthoni, C.; Laukoetter, M.G., Rijcken, E., Vowinkel, T., Mennigen, R., Muller, S., Senninger, N., Russell, J., Jauch, J., Bergmann, J., Granger, D.N., Krieglstein, C.F. (June 2006). "Mechanisms underlying the anti-inflammatory actions of boswellic acid derivatives in experimental colitis". American Journal of Physiology: Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology 290 (6): G1131-7. American Physiological Society.
  6. ^ Kiela, P.R.; Midura, A.J., Kuscuoglu, N., Jolad, S.D., Solyom, A.M., Besselsen, D.G., Timmermann, B.N., Ghishan, F.K. (April 2005). "Effects of Boswellia serrata in mouse models of chemically induced colitis". American Journal of Physiology: Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology 288 (4): G798-808. American Physiological Society.
  7. ^ Y J, Kamath J, Asad M (2006). "Effect of hexane extract of Boswellia serrata oleo-gum resin on chemically induced liver damage". Pak J Pharm Sci 19 (2): 129-33. PMID 16751123.
  8. ^ Gupta I, Gupta V, Parihar A, Gupta S, Lüdtke R, Safayhi H, Ammon H (1998). "Effects of Boswellia serrata gum resin in patients with bronchial asthma: results of a double-blind, placebo-controlled, 6-week clinical study". Eur J Med Res 3 (11): 511–4. PMID 9810030.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Boswellic_acid". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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