Planta Med 2006; 72(12): 1100-1116
DOI: 10.1055/s-2006-947227
© Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

Boswellic Acids in Chronic Inflammatory Diseases

H. P. T. Ammon1
  • 1Dept. of Pharmacology, Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Tuebingen, Tuebingen, Germany
In memory of Professor Ernst Reinhard
Further Information

Publication History

Received: April 24, 2006

Accepted: June 15, 2006

Publication Date:
28 August 2006 (online)


Oleogum resins from Boswellia species are used in traditional medicine in India and African countries for the treatment of a variety of diseases. Animal experiments showed anti-inflammatory activity of the extract. The mechanism of this action is due to some boswellic acids. It is different from that of NSAID and is related to components of the immune system. The most evident action is the inhibition of 5-lipoxygenase. However, other factors such as cytokines (interleukins and TNF-α) and the complement system are also candidates. Moreover, leukocyte elastase and oxygen radicals are targets. Clinical studies, so far with pilot character, suggest efficacy in some autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and bronchial asthma. Side effects are not severe when compared to modern drugs used for the treatment of these diseases.


AKBA:Acetyl-11-keto-β-boswellic acid

BA:Boswellic acid

BE:Extract from oleogum resin of Boswellia serrata

BS:Boswellia serrata

BSA:Bovine serum albumin

[Ca2+]:Cytosolic calcium concentration


Con A:Concanavalin A

COX1:Cyclooxygenase 1

COX2:Cyclooxygenase 2

cPLA:Phospholipase A

CRP:C-reactive protein

EC50:Effective concentration 50

ESR:Erythrocyte sedimentation rate

FEV1:Forced expiratory volume in 1 sec (liters)

FLAP:5-Lipoxygenase activating protein


FVC:Forced vital capacity (liters)

HAB:Homöopathisches Arzneibuch
(German homeopathic pharmacopoeia)

5-HETE:5-Hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid

12-HETE:12-Hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid

12-HHT:12-Hydroxyheptadecatrienoic acid

HLE:Human leucocyte elastase

IC50:Inhibitory concentration 50


IKK:IκBα kinase



KBA:11-Keto-β-boswellic acid


LTB4:Leukotriene B4

LTC4:Leukotriene C4

LTD4:Leukotriene D4

LTE4:Leukotriene E4

MAPK:Mitogen activated protein kinase

MCH:Mean corpuscular haemoglobin

MCHC:Mean corpuscular haemoglobin concentration

MCV:Mean corpuscular volume

MEK:Mitogen activated protein kinase kinase

NSAID:Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug

P38:p38 kinase

P42:p42 kinase

PEFR:Peak expiratory flowrate

PGF 1α:Prostaglandin F 1α


PI3-K:Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase

PMNs:Polymorphonuclear neutrophils

RAS:21 kDA-GTP-binding protein

TA:Tirucallic acid

TH1:T-Helper cells 1

TH2:T-Helper cells 2

TNFα:Tumor necrosis factor α


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Prof. H. P. T. Ammon


Universität Tübingen

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72076 Tuebingen


Phone: +49-7071-297-4675

Fax: +49-7071-392-476