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Frankincense, or Boswellia resin, has been part of many religious ceremonies and is still used as a means to indicate special festive atmosphere in churches today. But in a world where aromatherapy, herbs and other natural alternatives to conventional medicine are increasingly used for health concerns, frankincense can do much more.
"The resin from the trunk of Boswellia trees contains anti-inflammatory substances," Professor Oliver Werz of the Friedrich Schiller University Jena, in Germany, said.
Werz believes these substances can be very beneficial in therapies against diseases like asthma, rheumatoid arthritis or atopic dermatitis.
In new research, 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 ofinflammation.
"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," Werz said.
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, according to the press release.
"Boswellic acids block this enzyme efficiently and thereby reduce the inflammatory reaction," Werz explained.
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.