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Optimal Dosing of Boswellia
One of the challenges in using Boswellia clinically is its poor bioavailability. A randomized, open, single-dose, two-way crossover study compared taking boswellic acids on an empty stomach with dosing with a standardized high fat meal. Healthy males received three capsules of BSE-018, equivalent to 786 mg dry Boswellia serrata gum resin. Those taking the capsules with a high fat meal had a several-fold increase in plasma concentration time curves as well as peak concentration of beta-boswellic acid, 11-keto-beta-boswellic acid, and acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid after treatment. Detection of plasma levels of acetyl-alpha-boswellic acid and alphaBA was only possible with administration of a high-fat diet.17
Another study aimed to determine the optimal dosing schedule. Researchers gave 12 healthy males 333 mg of oral Boswellia serrata and measured blood levels of 11-keto beta-boswellic acid (KBA). The results suggested that the Boswellia needs to be dosed every 6 hours (calculated half-life) to maintain steady blood levels.18
Whole Plant vs. Isolated Constituents
Pharmacology researchers continue to debate the use of whole-plant extracts or whole essential oils versus isolated plant chemical constituents. The same debate has raged for several decades in the natural supplement industry; that is, do standardized extracts of a plant guarantee greater clinical efficacy? And even more to the point: can the elegant, interrelated, complex therapeutic activity of a whole plant be isolated to one or two "active constituents"?
Many pharmacologists advocate research into isolated essential oil constituents: " … the accomplished clinical studies have used the whole plant extract for study, although, not every boswellic acid shows a satisfactory pharmacological performance. … So, the need of the hour is to shift our focus on those active compounds whose mechanistic study has already been accomplished such as AKBA [3-acetyl-11-keto-β-boswellic acid]. …"19
Other researchers recognize the complex nature of plants and advocate the use of whole essential oils: "Indeed, [essential oils'] complex chemical composition makes it difficult to envisage a single mechanism underlying the entireness of the biological effect, which is likely the sum and/or synergy of the biological activity of each component. For the same reason, data obtained from single components may not necessarily be, in turn, applied to the whole essential oil."20
While both of these differing views on pharmacological research are valid, I am biased toward whole essential oils. At this time we simply lack research methods to understand the synergistic activity of plants. That is the failure of our research models, not the plants.
Boswellia species offer promise for prevention and possibly treatment of cancer. Researchers continue to explore the most effective species, the optimal plant part, and the best preparation methods. Human clinical trials have been sparse for essential oils in general and that Boswellia in particular. The most promising human research suggests that Boswellia extracts (not the essential oil) offer anti-inflammatory support for radiation patients (breast and brain cancers) and cancer prevention for women with dense breast tissue. For optimal oral absorption, dose boswellic acids (not the essential oil) orally with a high-fat meal every 6 hours.
Dr. Judith Boice, award-winning author, international teacher, naturopathic physician, and acupuncturist, has a special passion for working with wellness and women's health. Dr. Boice conducts seminars throughout North America teaching people how to apply the secrets in her book But My Doctor Never Told Me That!: Secrets for Creating Lifelong Health to achieve their personal life and health goals.
Dr. Boice has also created "The High Level Wellness Program" to support individuals in achieving their personal life and health goals. She designed the High Level Wellness Program for patients who wanted to improve their health but were unsure of where or how to begin.
Other creative passions include photography, music, and gardening. Her photographs have appeared in several magazines and newspapers, Trees for Life calendars, and Sierra Club Books publications. She also has a radio program. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Oberlin College, Dr. Boice is the author of several magazine articles and eight books, including But My Doctor Never Told Me That!. Her book Menopause with Science and Soul: A Guidebook for Navigating the Journey (paperback) is a 2009 Nautilus Silver Book Awards Winner. Her most recent book, The Green Medicine Chest: Healthy Treasures for the Whole Family, won two awards in 2011: the Nautilus Silver Award winner for wellness/prevention/vitality and the Living Now Book Awards Bronze medal winner for health/wellness.
Dr. Boice has been interviewed on several radio shows and has a YouTube video. To watch or listen to her, go to her interviews page.
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