Biblical incense could be 21st century cure
PRECIOUS resin frankincense could become a key treatment for arthritis, research shows.
The biblical incense, collected from the bark of boswellia trees, has been recognised for millennia as a treatment for wounds and infections.
Scientists have found compounds within it can attach themselves to proteins that cause inflammation – such as arthritis – and block them.
The trees, native to Africa and Asia, probably produce the compounds as protection against insect or fungal attack, experts believe.
Professor Will Setzer said his findings could mean new drugs to treat inflammation. He said the main problem was to work out how to make the compounds available to humans.
Prof Setzer, based at America’s University of Alabama, said: “Boswellia is not water soluble so it’s difficult to get it into the bloodstream.”
Biotech firm Cambridge Nutraceuticals, however, has developed a product it claims overcomes the problem.
It said combining boswellia with soy lecithin, a fat, enhances the tree’s active ingredients in the stomach, enabling them to get into the blood.
Dr Miriam Ferrer, a molecular biologist with the firm, said: “We’ve shown that this component allows the boswellia to get to where it needs to go to produce the anti-inflammatory effect, and at the right amounts.”