β-Boswellic Acid, A Safe and Clinically Effective Inhibitor of Prostaglandin E Synthase-1, Has Potential for Prevention of Cancer, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Vascular Disorders, and for Control of Inflammatory Pain

Frankincense, rich in compounds known as boswellic acids, is a natural tree resin extract that has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine for treatment of inflammation. Recent research suggests that its utility in this regard reflects the ability of beta-boswellic acid to inhibit an enzyme, microsomal prostaglandin E synthase-1, that produces the mediator of inflammation prostaglandin E2. The anti-inflammatory efficacy of NSAID drugs such as ibuprofen also largely reflects their ability to inhibit prostaglandin E2 production, but they have a different target (the enzyme cyclooxygenase) and have important side effects and risks, whereas boswellic acids appear quite safe. Administration of boswellic acids may therefore represent a way to achieve some of the benefits associated with chronic NSAID therapy – such as prevention of various cancers and Alzheimer’s disease – at minimal risk.

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