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Forum on Immunopathological Diseases and Therapeutics
SJR: 0.309 SNIP: 0.041 CiteScore™: 0.18

ISSN Print: 2151-8017
ISSN Online: 2151-8025

Archives: Volume 1, 2010 to Volume 7, 2016

Forum on Immunopathological Diseases and Therapeutics

DOI: 10.1615/ForumImmunDisTher.2012004432
pages 303-313

Anti-Inflammatory and Anti-Cancer Activity of Boswellic Acids from Frankincense (Boswellia serrata Roxb. et Colebr, B. carterii Birdw.)

Thomas Efferth
Department of Pharmaceutical Biology Institute of Pharmacy and Biochemistry Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany
Henry Johannes Greten
Heidelberg School of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Heidelberg, Germany and Biomedical Sciences Institute Abel Salazar, University of Porto, Portugal


The oleo-resinous gum of Boswellia trees has been used for religious rituals, but also for medical purposes in different civilizations for ages. The active principles of the gum resin are boswellic acids. The ethnopharmacology of frankincense indicate activity towards inflammatory diseases and cancer. There is compelling evidence from experimental investigations that boswellic acids reveal anti-inflammatory activity, and the results of clinical trials confirm that Boswellia extracts are also clinically effective. No serious side effects were recorded. Occasional side effects included fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea, unspecific skin rash, azoospermia, and neutropenia. Several investigations using Boswellia extracts or isolated boswellic acids demonstrated growth inhibition of tumors in mice and rats, and increased survival time of animals. The treatment effects were associated with inhibition of AKT, reduced NF-κB activation, and down-regulation of anti-apoptotic proteins. Clinical application in glioblastoma patients showed an improvement of clinical symptoms in terms of edema reduction, but no reduction of tumor size.

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