Boswellia serrata, -The cure for osteoarthritis in ayurveda, Shallaki,
In degenerative and inflammatory pathologies invoving joints, there is no other drug as useful as Guggulu. Many international companies today use shallaki for the manufacture of drugs, ayurvedic and allopathic alike.
Family : Berseraceae
Scientific name : Boswellia serrata
Nomenclature in other languages :
Sanskrit : Shallaki, Susrava, Gajabhakshya
Hindi : Salei
Gujarathi : Dhoopa
Bengali : Salei
Tamil : Olibana
English : Indian Olibanum
Distribution : Gujarat, Rajasthan, Bihar are most commonly the residence of this plant.
Botanical description : It’s a resinous tree that grows to a height of 12m. A tree of moderate height , its bark are grey in colour. Upon time the bark sheds off like scales of a snake. The younger branches and leaflets of this tree are very smooth. The leaves which are compound(pinnate) in nature are 20-37 cm long. The leaflets are 2-5cm long and 1-2.5cm wide. The leaflets are oval shaped. The leaves contains 8 pairs or more of the leaflets . The margins of leaflets are serrated. Flowers are many and the inflorescence is terminal raceme, with it seen in the axilla of the leaf and stem. The petals and sepals are hairy and five in number. The stamen are 10 in number, they are diercted inwards. The fruits are seen in 3-4 numbers and are seen as drupes along with cones. The flowering season in April-May.
C hemical constituents and action
The bark contains carbohydrates, glycosides, beta-sitosterol. The resin contains ditrepene alcohol. This is knownn by the name sitosterol. In addition to that 11-keto-b-boswellic acid also has been extracted from the resin.
Rasa : kashaya, tikta, madhura
Guna : laghu, rooksha
Veerya : sheeta
Vipaka : katu
Medicinal properties :
Alleiviates vata kapha disorders. Also cures chronic skin lesions of all kinds infective and inflammatory, ulcers, wounds, piles, diseases of mouth, diarhhoea, hepatic disorders etc.
Useful parts : Bark, Resin
Therapeutic uses :
-1gm of resin taken in tablet form daily three times cures rheumatic, neurologic complaints and rheumatic fever.
-for gangrenes in diabetes the resin of this palnt may be applied externally and it taken internally as pills regularly
-the resin of this plant when chewed cures bad odour of mouth and mouth ulcers.
Extracts of Boswellia serrata have been clinically studied for osteoarthritis and joint function, particularly for osteoarthritis of the knee, with the research showing a slight improvement of both pain and function compared to a placebo. Positive effects of Boswellia in some chronic inflammatory diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, bronchial asthma, osteoarthritis, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease have been reported. A Boswellia extract marketed under the name Wokvel has undergone human efficacy, comparative, pharmacokinetic studies. Some see Boswellia serrata as a promising alternative to NSAIDs, warranting further investigation in pharmacological studies and clinical trials.
Boswellia serrata has been recently developed for topical use in a patent-pending formula in Sano Relief Gel. Boswellia serrata is used in the manufacture of the supposed anti-wrinkle agent “Boswelox”,which has been criticised as being ineffective.
Potential for anti-cancer activity
Boswellic acid, an extract from Boswellia serrata, has been studied for anti-neoplastic activity, especially in experimental primary and secondary brain tumors, indicating potential efficacy from in vitro and limited clinical research. Boswellic acid is also undergoing an early-stage clinical trial at the Cleveland Clinic.
Mechanism of action
Animal studies performed in India show ingestion of a defatted alcoholic extract of Boswellia decreased polymorphonuclear leukocyte infiltration and migration, decreased primary antibody synthesis and almost totally inhibited the classical complement pathway.
Shallaki has potent analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects that can reduce the pain and inflammation of joints.
Frankincense ‘can ease arthritis’ researches have suggested
Extracts from Boswellia serrata, a similar species to the variety famous for its role in the Christian nativity, were tested on dozens of patients.
Those who received it reported better movement and less pain and stiffness.
The herb has been used for thousands of years in Indian Ayurvedic medicine, reports the journal Arthritis Research and Therapy.
Current treatments carry a great many adverse effects, and scientists have been hunting for an alternative.
The investigation into the properties of Boswellia serrata was led by Dr Siba Raychaudhuri at the University of California, Davis.
Eventually they tested an extract of the plant enriched with the chemical – AKBA – thought to be its active ingredient.
Some of the 70 patients with severe arthritis in their knees recruited into the trial were given a low-dose capsule, some a higher dose capsule, and the remainder were given a dummy pill with no active ingredients.
In as little as seven days, patients taking the frankincense drug reported improvements in their pain and stiffness levels compared with the placebo group, and these continued until the 90-day mark, when the study ended.
Tests of the fluid within affected joints also revealed falls in levels of enzymes linked to the condition.
Dr Raychaudhuri said: “We have shown that B. serrata enriched with AKBA can be an effective treatment for osteoarthritis of the knee.”
However, UK experts urged caution. Professor Philip Conaghan, from Leeds University, and a spokesman for the Arthritis Research Campaign, said: “Certainly osteoarthritis is in need of new safe analgesics, although many effective therapies that reduce pain such as muscle strengthening exercises, shock-absorbing footwear and weight loss have very few bad side-effects.
“This report on treating knee pain with a chemical derivative of B. serrata is interesting but the patient numbers are small, there were some problems with the reported trial design and we need more information on its medium to long-term safety.”
Boswellia serrata: an overall assessment of in vitro, preclinical, pharmacokinetic and clinical data.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) intake is associated with high prevalence of gastrointestinal or cardiovascular adverse effects. All efforts to develop NSAIDs that spare the gastrointestinal tract and the cardiovasculature are still far from achieving a breakthrough. In the last two decades, preparations of the gum resin of Boswellia serrata (a traditional ayurvedic medicine) and of other Boswellia species have experienced increasing popularity in Western countries. Animal studies and pilot clinical trials support the potential of B. serrata gum resin extract (BSE) for the treatment of a variety of inflammatory diseases like inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and asthma. Moreover, in 2002 the European Medicines Agency classified BSE as an ‘orphan drug’ for the treatment of peritumoral brain oedema. Compared to NSAIDs, it is expected that the administration of BSE is associated with better tolerability, which needs to be confirmed in further clinical trials. Until recently, the pharmacological effects of BSE were mainly attributed to suppression of leukotriene formation via inhibition of 5-lipoxygenase (5-LO) by two boswellic acids, 11-keto-β-boswellic acid (KBA) and acetyl-11-keto-β-boswellic acid (AKBA). These two boswellic acids have also been chosen in the monograph of Indian frankincense in European Pharmacopoiea 6.0 as markers to ensure the quality of the air-dried gum resin exudate of B. serrata. Furthermore, several dietary supplements advertise the enriched content of KBA and AKBA. However, boswellic acids failed to inhibit leukotriene formation in human whole blood, and pharmacokinetic data revealed very low concentrations of AKBA and KBA in plasma, being far below the effective concentrations for bioactivity in vitro. Moreover, permeability studies suggest poor absorption of AKBA following oral administration. In view of these results, the previously assumed mode of action – that is, 5-LO inhibition – is questionable. On the other hand, 100-fold higher plasma concentrations have been determined for β-boswellic acid, which inhibits microsomal prostaglandin E synthase-1 and the serine protease cathepsin G. Thus, these two enzymes might be reasonable molecular targets related to the anti-inflammatory properties of BSE. In view of the results of clinical trials and the experimental data from in vitro studies of BSE, and the available pharmacokinetic and metabolic data on boswellic acids, this review presents different perspectives and gives a differentiated insight into the possible mechanisms of action of BSE in humans. It underlines BSE as a promising alternative to NSAIDs, which warrants investigation in further pharmacological studies and clinical trials.