Recent studies show that asthma, even in its mildest form, is an inflammatory disease mediated by leukotrienes. The use of treatments with antileukotrienes for this condition is therefore being emphasized. Antileukotrienes have been used with success in clinical trials in the management of various models of asthma1.
Recently, the Food and Drug Administration approved a "once-a-day asthma pill", Singulair (montelukast sodium) for the prevention and treatment of chronic asthma. This drug works by blocking leukotrienes which are involved . in the inflammatory processes associated with asthma2. In the phytonutritional approach, boswellic acids (from the gum resin of Boswellia serrata) are the most promising antileukotrienes.
Boswellic acids were proven in in vitro studies, to be the most potent amongst several herbal extracts in inhibiting the classical component pathway of the inflammatory response, producing 100% inhibition at a concentration of 0.1 micromole3. Boswellic acids appear to be specific inhibitors of leukotriene formation, functioning by inhibiting the activity of the enzymes which lead to their formation. Boswellic acids are therefore effective in the prevention and/or control of inflammatory processes, which are typically characterized by increased leukotriene formation4. In addition to this mechanism, boswellic acids were found to decrease the activity of human leukocyte elastase (HLE). Both leukotriene formation and HLE release are increased during the progression of hypersensitivity-based diseases, such as asthma. This dual inhibitory action was found to be unique to boswellic acids. The reported blockade of two proinflammatory enzymes by boswellic acids could be the rationale for their anti-allergic and anti-asthmatic activity5.
Sabinsa Corporation supplies an extract of Boswellia serrata, Boswellin®, standardized for 65% boswellic acids. Intensive research is underway at Sabinsa to develop a once-a-day anti-asthma formulation based on the leukotrienes inhibitory activity of boswellic acids.
- Annals of Internal Medicine. 1997, 127: 472-480
- Retail Pharmacy News, April 1998
- Planta Medica, 1989. 55: 235-242
- Planta Medica, 1991. 57(3): 203-207
- J. Pharm. Exp. Ther, 1997. 281(1): 460-463