Inflammation: The Common Denominator of Age-Related Disease

By Michael A. Smith, MD

Age-related diseases like heart disease or Alzheimer’s or even diabetes seem to be more prevalent in Western developed countries. Is there a connection? We think so: inflammation.

Chronic systemic inflammation is the common denominator of age-related disease. And the common source of inflammation is dietary — the sugar-heavy, fat-laden diet of the typical American. Excessive calories from animal protein and saturated fat increase the amount of arachidonic acid in our bodies, which is the precursor to powerful inflammatory proteins.

With all of this arachidonic acid hanging around, the body wants to process it. That occurs through several enzymes, one in particular is called 5-lipoxygenase or 5-LOX. This enzyme converts arachidonic acid into powerful inflammatory signals called leukotrienes.

High levels of circulating leukotrienes increase systemic inflammation, which will eventually damage cells and tissues. As a matter of fact, some experts claim that the 5-LOX enzyme is associated with over 1.5 million deaths a year in the United States as depicted by the following graph:

Now some of you might say, “I already eat a healthy diet full of seeds, legumes, whole grains, and fish for lowering inflammation.” And although what you’re doing is beneficial, we think that you can do more.

Boswellia Directly Inhibits 5-LOX

Eating seeds and legumes and getting plenty of omega-3 fats is a good start. A diet rich in them has less arachidonic acid and has less impact on the production of inflammatory proteins like leukotrienes. But we would like to see more people hone in on 5-LOX activity directly. And this is where Boswellia serrata comes into play. This amazing medicinal tree contains compounds that inhibit 5-LOX.

Boswellia serrata produces a pungent, bitter sap or gum resin that contains acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid (AKBA), a powerful weapon against excessive 5-LOX activity. The sap has been used for over three millennia, dating back to ancient India and Egypt. People way back then would use it as a soothing ointment for pain, inflammation, open wounds, and fighting infection (little was known about bacteria, but it cleared up festering wounds). We now know it’s the AKBA from the sap that inhibits 5-LOX.

Boswellia Sap is too Bitter to Use in Cooking

You really can’t eat or cook with Boswellia sap. It’s way too bitter, and heat would probably destroy the little amount of AKBA in it. So this leaves us with supplementing with a Boswellia extract that’s standardized to a specific amount of AKBA.

The best way to do this is with an extract that retains some of the natural oils and protects the AKBA in your stomach, allowing it to enter your circulation. As a matter of fact, a Boswellia extract containing the natural oils absorbs 52% better than extracts without the oils.2Better absorption translates into more 5-LOX inhibition, less inflammation and maybe even less pain from inflammatory conditions like arthritis.2

Stop Fueling the Flames of Inflammation

Inflammation is the common denominator of age-related disease. And the average American diet is fueling the flames of inflammation by directly influencing the 5-LOX enzyme. But there’s hope. For starters, a healthier plant-based diet would go a long way in helping to quench the inflammatory fire. But for additional help, we have Boswellia serrata, an amazing medicinal tree used for thousands of years — going all the way back to ancient Egypt and the desert wanderings of the Israelites.

This tree with a healing sap can inhibit 5-LOX and help people gain better control over inflammation. Combined with a healthy diet, just imagine the impact this ancient medicine could have on aging Americans today.


  1. Int. J. Med. Sci; Sengupta 2010
  2. Mol Cell Biochem. 2011 Aug;354(1-2):189-97. Epub 2011 Apr 11.


Glenda de Vries said...

Why don't they teach this in medical school?

Anonymous said...

Because big pharma controls med schools.

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