The cosmetic benefits of boswellic acid.
Article Type: Report
Subject: Organic acids (Health aspects)
Boswellia (Health aspects)
Medicine, Botanic (Research)
Medicine, Herbal (Research)
Skin (Care and treatment)
Skin (Research)
Skin (Aging)
Author: Finney-Brown, Tessa
Pub Date: 06/22/2010
Publication: Name: Australian Journal of Medical Herbalism Publisher: National Herbalists Association of Australia Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 National Herbalists Association of Australia ISSN: 1033-8330
Issue: Date: Summer, 2010 Source Volume: 22 Source Issue: 2
Topic: Event Code: 310 Science & research
Product: SIC Code: 2869 Industrial organic chemicals, not elsewhere classified
Geographic: Geographic Scope: Australia Geographic Code: 8AUST Australia
Accession Number: 232178430
Full Text: Pedretti A, Capezzera R, Zane C, Facchinetti E, Calzavara-Pinton P. 2010. Effects of topical boswellic acid on photo and age damaged skin: clinical, biophysical and echographic evaluations in a double blind randomized split face study. Planta Med 76:6;555-60.

Boswellia serrata is an Ayurvedic herb, and its fragrant gum or resin is commonly used for a number of inflammatory disorders and tumours. The active constituents are pentacyclic triterpenes (with alpha or beta structure) called boswellic acids (BA). Their chief mechanism appears to be their effect on IkappaB kinases with subsequent inhibition of NF-kappa B activation and prevention of TNF-alpha release from activated monocytes. BA also inhibit matrix metalloporeinase protein (MMP) transcription in endothelial cells and fibroblasts. MMP (especially MMP-1) is implicated in dermal damage by cleavage of fibrillar collagen.

BA may be beneficial in the treatment of skin lesions due to chronic UV exposure as UV causes dermal inflammation, leading to the subsequent release of certain cytokines (including TNF-alpha) and increased oxidative stress. Part of the pathological process involved increased transcription and activity of MMP-1 in fibroblasts and endothelial cells in the area of the skin affected.

The current double blind randomised split face study examined the tolerability and efficacy of a cream with 0.5%%o BA concentration on the treatment of photoaged facial skin. Fifteen women aged between 31 and 68 (mean age 44.4 yrs) with clinical features of photodamaged skin were enrolled. Exclusion criteria included pregnancy and lactation, inflammatory or neoplastic skin disease of the affected area, prior physical or cosmetic treatment for photoageing or the use of any systemic drug (including oral contraceptives) in the 3 months prior to the trial. Subjects used a cream containing 0.5%%o BA on one side of the face (randomly allocated) and an identical cream without BAs on the other half. Application was repeated once a day for 30 days. Skin improvement was assessed by blinded investigators according to the Dover classification scale (0-4 VAS) for photoaging and with noninvasive diagnostic techniques. Sides of the face were summed separately. Assessment was made at baseline and after one month of treatment, and then at a further 2 month follow up. In addition high resolution 20 MHz B-mode echography was employed to investigate the UV related dermal changes.

In the half of the face treated with BA, the total scores for photoageing showed a significant difference after 1 month of treatment and at the 2 month follow up. Significant reductions were noted in fine surface lines, tactile roughness, skin sebum and skin distensibility after 30 days. These were unchanged at 2 month follow up. Echography showed a statistically significant improvement in skin thickness in treated skin. Untreated skin did not change appreciably from baseline. In the current study there was no effect on deep wrinkles, mottled pigmentation, sallowness, facial erythema and teleangiectasias. The authors hypothesise that a longer treatment would produce a more profound improvement.

These results suggest a promising role for the use of BA in the treatment of selected aspects of photoageing and potentially in the prevention or treatment of skin cancers (given the long traditional use of Boswellia serrata in tumours) which are often caused by UV exposure. Longer studies are required to assess the effects of this treatment on other parameters mentioned.

Tessa Finney-Brown mnhaa
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