Heart diseases, carcinoma, chronic pulmonary diseases, Alzheimer's disease, pneumonia and influenza are all linked with this enzyme that is produced by our body.1 This enzyme is called 5-lipoxygenase or 5-LOX for short, which, when generated by the body in excessive amounts, gives rise to a whole cascade of dangerous inflammatory reactions.
Ironically enough, it was this systemic inflammatory reaction caused by 5-lipoxygenase that protected our ancestors from infective diseases. Since these diseases are being increasingly eliminated, the anti-inflammatory reaction of 5-lipoxygenase has not only become unnecessary, but also deadly.2-5 Scientists have been familiar with this enzyme for some time due to its role in occurrence of arthritis, asthma and Crohn’s disease, which is why the pharmaceutical industry aims to develop a safe drug to alleviate the effect of 5-lipoxygenase. However, the currently available “5-LOX inhibitors” are not safe enough to be taken without medical supervision.6,7 Luckily, there are various foodstuffs and plants that effectively prevent the effect of 5-lipoxygenase.
How does a 5-lipoxygenase surplus have a detrimental effect on the health?
As a result of ageing and/or bad diet, our body generates excessive amounts of arachidonic acid. In order to neutralise arachidonic acid, increased amounts of 5-lipoxygenase (5-LOX) are produced in our system. Increased 5-LOX enzyme values and end products of arachidonic acid breakdown are closely connected with middle and old age diseases.
The diagram below clearly shows how typical Western diet food causes a surplus of arachidonic acid to be created, resulting in harmful consequences of increased 5-lipoxygenase values.
The diagram depicts how the body metabolises Western diet via 5-lipoxygenase
"5-lipoxygenase stimulates the production of pro-inflammatory molecules in the body called leukotrienes.8 Hundreds of published scientific studies have established a link between leukotrienes and the occurrence of cardiovascular disease9, carcinoma10-16, arthritis17-19, and respiratory diseases, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)8. These molecules are linked with Alzheimer's disease20-25, inflammatory bowel diseases 26-28 and osteoporosis.29,30"
By switching to healthier dietary patterns, the 5-lipoxygenase level decreases, even though optimal suppression of 5-LOX and its harmful effects paired with typical Western nutrition can pose quite a challenge. Fortunately, frankincense extract has proved an effective inhibitor against this enzyme.
How to prevent excessive 5-lipoxygenase production For millennia, ancient cultures acknowledged frankincense and myrrh resin both as a source of pleasant fragrances and as medicine against rheumatism, herpes, and gastrointestinal disorders. In modern studies, the medicinal value of frankincense was confirmed with the discovery of boswellic acids contained within this resin. The 3-acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid (AKBA) has turned out to be the most effective in inhibiting 5-lipoxygenase and preventing the creation of pro-inflammatory leukotrienes.39,40 It has been confirmed through animal experiments that frankincense extracts possess a strong anti-inflammatory effect, especially for mitigating joint inflammation in arthritis.41 Initial human studies have yielded similar feasible results, thus confirming the traditional use of frankincense. Frankincense extracts have proved effective in patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and asthma.39,42 Throughout the millennia of frankincense use, no significant side-effects have been observed. It has been corroborated by recent toxicology and safety studies that frankincense extracts have a wide safety range, both in external and internal application.43
How to prevent excessive 5-lipoxygenase production
For millennia, ancient cultures acknowledged frankincense and myrrh resin both as a source of pleasant fragrances and as medicine against rheumatism, herpes, and gastrointestinal disorders.
In modern studies, the medicinal value of frankincense was confirmed with the discovery of boswellic acids contained within this resin. The 3-acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid (AKBA) has turned out to be the most effective in inhibiting 5-lipoxygenase and preventing the creation of pro-inflammatory leukotrienes.39,40 It has been confirmed through animal experiments that frankincense extracts possess a strong anti-inflammatory effect, especially for mitigating joint inflammation in arthritis.41
Initial human studies have yielded similar feasible results, thus confirming the traditional use of frankincense. Frankincense extracts have proved effective in patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and asthma.39,42 Throughout the millennia of frankincense use, no significant side-effects have been observed. It has been corroborated by recent toxicology and safety studies that frankincense extracts have a wide safety range, both in external and internal application.43
Renarthro – a synergy formula of frankincense and myrrh extracts plus colostrum
The Croatian company Farmavita has developed Renarthro (www.renarthro.com), a product which contains frankincense extract, myrrh extract and colostrum. It has been found in laboratory studies that myrrh extract prevents the effect of cartilage-degrading enzymes (hyaluronidase, collagenase). It has also been confirmed that the addition of myrrh extract enhances the effect of other plants 20-fold. Other laboratory studies have shown that PRP peptides found in milk improve the effect of other ingredients by several times. The patent-protected innovation provided by Farmavita is the fact that the combination of these three ingredients forms a unique synergy that is several times more effective than the individual components.
The role of inflammation processes in our body following the occurrence of atherosclerosis (blood vessel thickening and congestion) has been known for over 20 years. In 1991, it was discovered that one of atherosclerosis factors is a molecule that is the end product of a process beginning with the effect of 5-lipoxygenase.50,51 Thus, for more than 10 years, there have been attempts to isolate 5-LOX inhibitors that would prevent or even reverse the ageing of the cardiovascular system.52 Frankincense extracts have turned out to be one of the best natural 5-LOX inhibitors when it comes to atherosclerosis occurrence.53
Protection of heart and blood vessels
Frankincense extracts have multiple complementary effects in vascular tissue. They strongly affect free radical binding.54 Also, they decrease total cholesterol by up to 48% and increase “good cholesterol” (high-density lipoprotein cholesterol – HDL) by up to 30%.55 However, it is the effect of frankincense extract on 5-lipoxygenase inhibition and on other inflammatory factors that interests cardiologists the most. In the human capillary endothelium, frankincense extracts have a significant effect on the prevention of damage to blood vessel walls connected to atherosclerosis43,56. It is estimated that 113 genes involved in the occurrence of vascular inflammation are positively modulated by frankincense.56,57
Extracts rich in AKBA, the main bioactive agent in frankincense, have shown a 50% reduction in atherosclerosis-induced damage.58 The activity of several different blood coagulation factors is also substantially reduced. A similar effect is attributed to guggulsterones found in myrrh extract.54
Neuroprotection and brain health
It was discovered that a constituent of frankincense is a potential stimulator of the brain receptor system called TRPV3, which is responsible for regulating anxiety and has an effect similar to antidepressants.59
One of the main components of frankincense obtained from Boswellia carteri trees, called incensole acetate, inhibits inflammation mediators in cerebral tissue – an effect which gives significant hope in treatment of cerebral tissue damage.60 Dangerous inflammatory cerebral reactions can inflict damage on cerebral tissue in a matter of a few hours, causing long-term neurological deficiencies.
Incensole acetate particularly acts as an inhibitor of cerebral cell degeneration in the hippocampus, the region of brain responsible for memory.60This effect has been confirmed by animal studies. Laboratory rats that were given a memory loss inducing substance, paired with frankincense extract, yielded significantly better results in spatial orientation and learning tests compared to animals that were not given frankincense extract.61 Similar results were obtained with animals that were not given the memory loss inducing substance. Extracts obtained from Boswellia papyrifera, one of 5 Boswellia species used in the production of fragrant frankincense resin, were tested on rats and yielded animals with better spatial orientation, allowing them to find their way through a labyrinth quicker.62
The effect of the boswellic acid, one of the main frankincense components, is achieved through several mechanisms which prevent the proliferation (spreading) of cancerous cells. AKBA induces apoptosis, i.e. programmed cell death, by affecting the so-called “death receptor” on cell surface and causing “suicide” of the carcinoma cell.63
Boswellic acid also blocks intercellular communication between carcinoma cells responsible for cellular replication.64 AKBA also impedes tumour growth by inhibiting the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) used by cells for development of necessary new blood vessels.65
Finally, it was recently discovered that AKBA can be effective when inhibiting the cellular receptor CXCR4, used by carcinoma cells to induce metastases and considered the cause of death by cancer in 90% of cases. To this day, frankincense extracts have also shown promising results when it comes to reducing the growth of malignant cells, carcinoma replication, or metastases of prostate, bladder, uterus cervix, bowels, as well as multiple myeloma and bone marrow cancer.66-7
Earlier studies with frankincense extracts also included ingredients known for their anti-inflammatory properties, such as ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), turmeric (Curcuma longa), and zinc. In one such study, 42 patients received a combination of these nutrients or placebo over three months.83 The study arm which received this combination experienced significant pain alleviation and a higher degree of joint mobility, unlike the placebo arm.
Frankincense extracts alleviate arthritis pain
Other ways to mitigate the effect of 5-LOX enzyme
Typical Western diet has an abundance of omega-6 fatty acids, saturated fatty acids, refined carbohydrates, and arachidonic acid. Excessive consumption of such food and insufficient intake of food rich in omega-3 fatty acids significantly contributes to the development of systemic chronic inflammatory diseases.
Those who are mindful of their health use nutrients such as fish oil or turmeric which decrease the activity of 5-lipoxygenase in the system.109-111 Their effect on 5-LOX suppression also serves as a partial explanation for a number of benefits provided by these nutrients.
However, as people age, excessive 5-LOX production calls for more effective suppression methods. Herbal preparations with frankincense extract, coupled with healthier dietary habits, offer an effective natural method of selective 5-LOX inhibition.112,113
Excess 5-lipoxygenase causes the production of pro-inflammatory molecules, including leukotrienes. Inflammatory processes within the body, induced by 5-lipoxygenase, are linked with seven out of ten most common causes of death in the USA, including cancer and heart diseases.
Presently, there exists a small number of safe medical products that inhibit 5-LOX; however, they must be taken under a physician’s supervision. Fortunately, natural 5-LOX inhibitors that effectively inhibit the activity of this enzyme have been recently discovered. As evidenced by a large body of convincing information, frankincense components block inflammatory reactions caused by 5-LOX, the enzyme which accelerates the occurrence of numerous fatal ageing-induced diseases.
"All those who wish to prevent the harmful effect of this enzyme and prolong their healthy life should adopt an anti-inflammatory diet with reduced or eliminated use of red meat, offal, sausages, sugar, and high glycaemic food.When selecting dietary fats and oils, the ones with a high content of omega-3 unsaturated fats (olive oil, coconut oil, linseed oil, pumpkin seed oil, and fish oil) should be preferred.We also recommend one capsule of Renarthro daily, as a supplement to the anti-inflammatory diet."
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