Sadly, aging has become nearly synonymous with a handful of age-related diseases.
But what if these diseases all had a common denominator—something that, if nipped in the bud, would lower your risk of not just one, but most of the diseases that plague us as we approach old age? Certainly such a discovery would change our understanding and experience of aging.
New research shows that one such common denominator is a single lethal enzyme that is linked with seven of the ten leading causes of death in America. This enzyme is associated with diseases that cause more than 1.5 million deaths a year in the US (1).
New and exciting research has found that one Ayurvedic herb effectively inhibits this enzyme and offers powerful protective effects against age-related diseases.
Read on to learn more about how this herb that was used for pain for thousands of years is now the focus of cutting edge modern research.
5-LOX: The Aging Enzyme
The enzyme is called 5-lipoxygenase, or 5-LOX, and is responsible for an inflammatory response in the body that plays an important role in heart disease, cancer, arthritis, chronic respiratory disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, influenza, pneumonia and kidney diseases (2).
The typical American diet may be the cause.
Foods such as red meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products—along with high-glycemic carbohydrates—are high in Omega 6 fatty acids, which convert to arachidonic acid in the body. While the optimal ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids according to experts is 4:1, the standard American diet can be as much as 25 times higher in omega-6 fatty acids than the anti-inflammatory omega-3s. In response to high levels of arachidonic acid, the body produces the 5-LOX enzyme.
In certain quantities, arachidonic acid is essential and very beneficial for the body.
It helps build cell membranes, regulates the inflammation response, fights infections, supports skin health and the clotting of the blood. The problem comes when arachidonic-producing foods are eaten in excess. This stimulates the production of the aging enzyme 5-LOX, resulting in the production of pro-inflammatory molecules called leukotrienes (3).
There are literally hundreds of studies linking leukotrienes to cardiovascular disease (4), cancer (5), arthritis (6), asthma (7), COPD 8), Alzheimer’s (9), inflammatory bowel disease (10) and osteoporosis (11).
While dietary changes may help reduce the production of LOX-5 and help harness its damaging inflammatory effect, it is challenging for many Americans to stick with these changes long enough to make a significant impact.
Here’s a recap:
The typical American diet —> high Omega 6 fatty acid levels —> high arachidonic acid levels —> high 5-Lox levels —> pro-inflammatory leukotrienes —> heart disease, cancer, arthritis, asthma, COPD, Alzheimer’s, IBD, and osteoporosis.
Boswellia: Joint Health and Far Beyond
Fortunately, an Indian plant that has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic Medicine for arthritic pain has demonstrated profound inhibiting effects against the 5-LOX enzyme.* The herb, called boswellia serrata, or simply “boswellia”, is rich in boswellic acids. One of these acids, called AKBA (3-acetyl-11-keto-betaboswellic acid), was shown to bind directly to the 5-LOX enzyme, preventing it from producing the toxic leukotrienes (12).*
Animal studies confirm that boswellic acids exert a powerful anti-inflammatory effect. This same effect has been shown to alleviate joint swelling in arthritis patients (13).*
But the impact of inhibiting 5-LOX goes far beyond supporting joint health. The excess leukotrienes converted from 5-LOX negatively impact many organ systems of the body, creating far-reaching effects on overall health.
Here’s a review of the effects of Boswellia extracts on optimal health:
1. Boswellic acids have been found to be effective in Rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and asthma (12, 13).*
2. Cardiovascular protection:
• Boswellia has powerful anti-oxidant properties (14)*
• Boswellia extracts lowered cholesterol by up to 48% and boosted the good HDL’s as much as 30%(15)*
• Boswellia exerted a beneficial gene-modulating effect on 113 genes involved in blood vessel inflammation (16).*
• Boswellia extracts caused a 50% reduction in atherosclerotic blood vessel lesions (17).*
3. Brain Health:
• Boswellic extracts stimulate brain receptors called TRPV3, which lower anxiety and depressive-like effects (18)*
• A constituent of boswellia, called Incensole Acetate has been shown to protect cells in the hippocampus responsible for memory and learning (19).*
• Boswellic acid AKBA operates by many different mechanisms to prevent cancer cells from proliferating (20).*
• AKBA suppressed activity of a cellular receptor called CXCR4. Cancer cells use CXCR4 to trigger metastases, which account for 90% of all cancer deaths (21).*
Protection and Prevention
It has long been known that the degenerative metabolites of 5-LOX and leucotrienes have a devastating effect on the body. This, along with newer research, helps to explain in part why other 5-LOX inhibitors like turmeric and fish oils have been shown to be so profoundly beneficial.* Boswellia appears to be an even more potent 5-LOX inhibitor and should be considered, along with dietary changes, to protect and prevent against the degenerative effects related to aging and a poor diet. *
3. Curr Opin Investig Drugs. 2009 Nov;10(11):1163-72
4. J Physio Pharmacol. 2010 Dec;61(6):647-50
5.Comp Oncol. 2011 Jun;9(2):149-57
6. J Immunol. 2010 Nov1;185(9):5503-11
7,8 Curr Opin Investig Drugs. 2009 Nov;10(11):1163-72
9. Ann Neurol. 2011 Jan;69(1):34-46
10. Lab Invest. 2005 Jun;85(6):808-22
11. Lab Invest. 1999 Feb;79(2):83-94
12. Wein Med Wochenschr. 2002;152(15-16):373-8
13. J Ethnopharmacol. 2005 Oct3;101(1-3):104-9
14. J Ethnopharmacol. 2011 July 8.
15. Indian J Exp Biol. 2005 jun;43(6):509-16
16. DNA Cell Biol. 2005 Apr;24(4):244-55
17. Arteriolscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2008 Feb;28(2)272-7
18. FASEB J. 2008 Aug;22(8):3024-34
19. J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2008 July;28(7)1341-51
20. Cancer Res. 2008 feb15;68(4)1180-6
21. Cancer Res. 2009 Jan;7(1):118-28
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