Sadly, aging has become nearly synonymous with a handful of chronic health issues.
But what if these all had a common denominator—something that, if nipped in the bud, could send you into your 80s and 90s, not just surviving, but thriving? Certainly such a discovery would change our understanding and experience of aging.
New research shows that such common denominators do exist.
One such common denominator is a single enzyme that is linked with seven of the ten leading causes of death in America. This enzyme is associated with health concerns that cause more than 1.5 million deaths a year in the United States (1).
New and exciting research has found that one Ayurvedic herb may inhibit this enzyme.
Read on to learn more about how this herb, that was used for joint support for thousands of years, is now the focus of cutting-edge modern research.
5-LOX: The Aging Enzyme
The enzyme called 5-lipoxygenase, or 5-LOX, is responsible for a degenerative response in the body that plays an important role in conditions related to the heart, joints, kidneys, lungs, cognition, blood sugar and immune health (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 body’s repair response, supports immunity, 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 degenerative molecules called leukotrienes (3).
There are literally hundreds of studies suggesting that leukotrienes have a compromising effect on heart health (4), healthy cell replication (5), joint (6), lung (7), circulation (8), cognition (9), bowel (10) and bone health (11).
While dietary changes may help reduce the production of LOX-5 and help harness its degenerative effect, it is challenging for many Americans to stick with these changes long enough to make a significant impact.
Boswellia: Joint Health and Far Beyond
Fortunately, an Indian plant that has been used for thousands of years in Ayurveda for muscle and joint health has demonstrated inhibitive properties against the 5-LOX enzyme. The herb, called 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, which suggests prevention from leukotrienes production (12).
Animal studies confirm that boswellic acids play a powerful role in healthy joint and muscle function (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 support the health of the joints, muscles, colon and lungs (12, 13).
2. Cardiovascular support:
a. Boswellia protects the body from environmental and toxic damage (14).
b. Boswellia extracts support healthy levels of good and bad cholesterol (15).
c. Boswellia exerted a beneficial gene-modulating effect on 113 genes involved in blood vessels and circulation (16, 17).
3. Brain Health:
a. Boswellic extracts stimulate brain receptors called TRPV3, support healthy mood (18).
b. A constituent of boswellia, called Incensole Acetate, has been shown to protect cells in the hippocampus responsible for memory and learning (19).
4. Cell Replication:
a. Boswellic acid AKBA operates by many different mechanisms to support healthy cell replication (20, 21).
Protection and Prevention
It has long been known that the degenerative metabolites of 5-LOX and leukotrienes 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, as a part of your regime for healthy aging.
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Ed: Sara Crolick
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17. Arteriolscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2008 Feb;28(2)272-7
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19. J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2008 July;28(7)1341-51
20. Cancer Res. 2008 feb15;68(4)1180-6
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