Boswellia serrata Oleo-Gum-Resin and its Effect on Memory Functions: A Review

Author(s): Mohaddese Mahboubi*, Leila Mohammad Taghizadeh Kashani

Journal Name: The Natural Products Journal

Volume 10 , Issue 4 , 2020

Become EABM
Become Reviewer
Call for Editor

Graphical Abstract:


Background: In Iranian Traditional Medicine, Boswellia serrata oleo-gum resins were used for the treatment of "Nisyan". "Nisyan" was equivalent to a reduction of memory or forgetfulness.

Objective: This review evaluates the traditional believes of B. serrata and memory and its effectiveness on memory loss.

Methods: We extracted all traditional and modern information on B. serrata oleo-gum resin preparations and memory from scientific accessible resources (Google Scholar, PubMed, Springer, Science direct, Wiley), non-accessible resources and traditional books.

Results: In traditional manuscripts, "Nisyan" is equal to memory loss in modern medicine and was believed to happen as the result of pouring the waste materials into the brain. Traditional practitioners treated "Nisyan" by inhibition of waste production in the brain or cleaning the brain from waste materials. They recommended using the plants with warming effects on the brain. It was believed that B. serrata had beneficial effects on memory functions and its memory enhancing effects have been the subject of pharmacological and clinical trial studies.

Conclusion: Despite some documents on the effectiveness of B. serrata oleo-gum-resin on memory functions, there is gap between these investigations, especially in pregnant and nursing mothers. More investigations with large clinical trials are required to complete flaw in order to improve the therapeutic applications of B. serrata on memory functions.

Keywords: Boswellia serrata, memory, nisyan, boswellic acids, traditional medicine, trial studies.

Heravi, M. Bahroljavaher, 1st ed; Jalal-Al-Din, Ehyaye Tebbe Tabie: Qom, Iran, 2008, p. 338.
Ahmadian-Attari, M.M.; Shirzad, M. Physiopathology of dementia in Iranian traditional medicine. J. Evid. Based Complementary Altern. Med., 2016, 21(4), 253-254.
[] [PMID: 26427791]
Hebert, L.E.; Weuve, J.; Scherr, P.A.; Evans, D.A. Alzheimer disease in the United States (2010-2050) estimated using the 2010 census. Neurology, 2013, 80(19), 1778-1783.
[] [PMID: 23390181]
Ahmadian-Attari, M.M.; Ahmadiani, A.; Kamalinejad, M.; Dargahi, L.; Shirzad, M.; Mosaddegh, M. Treatment of Alzheimer’s disease in Iranian traditional medicine. Iran. Red Crescent Med. J., 2014, 17(1)e18052
[] [PMID: 25763264]
Kermani, N. Sharho Al’-Asbab, 1st ed; Ehya-Teb: Qom, Iran, 2008, pp. 113-138.
Chashti, H.M.A.K. Medicine. Exir-e-Azam; Research Institute for Islamic and Complementary Medicine, Tehran University of Medical Science: Tehran, Iran, 2007.
Arzani, M.A. Tebe Akbari, 1st ed; Jalaledin Publication: Qom, Iran, 2008.
Khorasani, A. Moalejat; Research Institute for Islamic and Complementary Medicine: Tehran, Iran, 2008.
Tajadini, H.; Saifadini, R.; Choopani, R.; Mehrabani, M.; Kamalinejad, M.; Haghdoost, A.A. Herbal medicine Davaie loban in mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease: A 12-week randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Complement. Ther. Med., 2015, 23(6), 767-772.
[] [PMID: 26645514]
Al-Biruni, A.R. Kitab-al-Saydanah fi’al-Tibb; Academy of Persian Language and Literature: Tehran, Iran, 2004.
Hamidpour, R.; Hamidpour, S.; Hamidpour, M.; Shahlari, M. Frankincense (rǔ xiāng; boswellia species): From the selection of traditional applications to the novel phytotherapy for the prevention and treatment of serious diseases. J. Tradit. Complement. Med., 2013, 3(4), 221-226.
[] [PMID: 24716181]
Shen, T.; Lou, H.X. Bioactive constituents of myrrh and frankincense, two simultaneously prescribed gum resins in Chinese traditional medicine. Chem. Biodivers., 2008, 5(4), 540-553.
[] [PMID: 18421746]
Niebler, J.; Buettner, A. Frankincense revisited, part I: Comparative analysis of volatiles in commercially relevant Boswellia species. Chem. Biodivers., 2016, 13(5), 613-629.
[] [PMID: 27012219]
Moussaieff, A.; Mechoulam, R. Boswellia resin: From religious ceremonies to medical uses; a review of in-vitro, in-vivo and clinical trials. J. Pharm. Pharmacol., 2009, 61(10), 1281-1293.
[] [PMID: 19814859]
Mertens, M.; Buettner, A.; Kirchhoff, E. The volatile constituents of frankincense – A review. Flavour Fragrance J., 2009, 24(6), 279-300.
Cameron, M.; Chrubasik, S. Oral herbal therapies for treating osteoarthritis. Cochrane Database Syst. Rev., 2014, (5)CD002947
[PMID: 24848732]
Chrubasik, J.E.; Roufogalis, B.D.; Chrubasik, S. Evidence of effectiveness of herbal anti-inflammatory drugs in the treatment of painful osteoarthritis and chronic low back pain. Phytother. Res., 2007, 21(7), 675-683.
[] [PMID: 17444576]
Ali, S.I.; Zhang, C.R.; Mohamed, A.A.; El-Baz, F.K.; Hegazy, A.K.; Kord, M.A.; Nair, M.G. Major constituents of Boswellia carteri resin exhibit cyclooxygenase enzyme inhibition and antiproliferative activity. Nat. Prod. Commun., 2013, 8(10), 1365-1366.
[] [PMID: 24354175]
Sharma, S.; Thawani, V.; Hingorani, L.; Shrivastava, M.; Bhate, V.R.; Khiyani, R. Pharmacokinetic study of 11-Keto beta-Boswellic acid. Phytomedicine, 2004, 11(2-3), 255-260.
[] [PMID: 15070181]
Alam, M.; Khan, H.; Samiullah, L.; Siddique, K. A review on phytochemical and pharmacological studies of Kundur (Boswellia serrata Roxb ex Colebr.)-A Unani drug. J. Appl. Pharm. Sci., 2012, 2(3), 148-156.
Subhashini, D.P.; Satyanarayana, B.; Naidu, M.T. Phytochemical screening for secondary metabolites in Boswellia serrata Roxb. and Wrightia tinctoria (Roxb.). R.Br. Not. Sci. Biol., 2014, 6(4), 474-477.
Başer, K.H.C.; Demirci, B.; Dekebo, A.; Dagne, E. Essential oils of some Boswellia spp. Myrrh and Opopanax. Flav. Fragr. J., 2003, 18(2), 153-156.
Singh, B.; Kumar, R.; Bhandari, S.; Pathania, S.; Lal, B. Volatile constituents of natural Boswellia serrata oleo-gum-resin and commercial samples. Flavour Fragrance J., 2007, 22(2), 145-147.
Sharma, A.; Chhikara, S.; Ghodekar, S.; Bhatia, S.; Kharya, M.; Gajbhiye, V.; Mann, A.; Namdeo, A.; Mahadik, K. Phytochemical and pharmacological investigations on Boswellia serrata. Pharmacogn. Rev., 2009, 3(5), 206-215.
Khorasani, M.H.A. Makhsan ul-Advia. Traditional manuscript, Kolkata: India, 1844.
Chashti, H.M.A.K. Medicine- Mohit-e-Azam. Almaei publication: Tehran, Iran, 2015.
Tonekaboni, M.M. Tohfat ul-Momenin, Mahmoudi Publication: Tehran: Iran, 1991.
Razi, M.B.Z. Al-Havi Farhangestane Oloome Pezeshkie, I.R.I Press: Tehran,Iran, 2005.
Avicenna, A. Qanun (Canon of Medicine), Soroush Press: Tehran, Iran, 2004 Vol. 2.
Jorjani, S.I. Zakhireh Kharazmshahi, Iranian Culture Foundation: Tehran, Iran, 1976.
Shirazi, Q.A. Mufradat va Moalj’at Alamraz, Institute for Islamic and Complementary Medicine, Tehran University of Medical Science, Tehran, Iran, 2008.
Al-Nafis, I. Alshamel fi Sana’at Tebbi’at. Institute of Reviewing Medical History, Iran University of Medical Science: Tehran, Iran, 2008.
Daryai, M. The Prophet & Imams’ Medicine, Ardehal Publication: Tehran, Iran, 2013.
Ammon, H.P.; Mack, T.; Singh, G.B.; Safayhi, H. Inhibition of leukotriene B4 formation in rat peritoneal neutrophils by an ethanolic extract of the gum resin exudate of Boswellia serrata. Planta Med., 1991, 57(3), 203-207.
[] [PMID: 1654575]
Buchele, B.; Simmet, T. Analysis of 12 different pentacyclic triterpenic acids from frankincense in human plasma by high-performance liquid chromatography and photodiode array detection. J. Chromatog. B., 2003, 795(2), 355-362.
Pharmacopoeia, I. Ministry of health and family welfare, Govt. of India. Controller of Publications: New Delhi, 1996, 736, pp.A80-A83.
Moussaieff, A.; Fride, E.; Amar, Z.; Lev, E.; Steinberg, D.; Gallily, R.; Mechoulam, R. The Jerusalem Balsam: From the Franciscan Monastery in the old city of Jerusalem to Martindale 33. J. Ethnopharmacol., 2005, 101(1-3), 16-26.
[] [PMID: 15963667]
Ahmed, S.; Alam, M.A.; Shahabuddin, M.; Khan, M.I.; Ali, H. Versatile pharmacological action and compound formulation of kundur in unani medicine: A review. Int. J. Pharmacol., 2014, 1(10), 627-631.
Tucker-Drob, E.M.; Briley, D.A. Continuity of genetic and environmental influences on cognition across the life span: A meta-analysis of longitudinal twin and adoption studies. Psychol. Bull., 2014, 140(4), 949-979.
[] [PMID: 24611582]
Ghabel, M.; Khadivzadeh, T. Investigating the prevalence and procedure of frankincense use in pregnant women referring to health care centers in Mashhad. Knowl. Health, 2009, 4(1), 45-47.
Farshchi, A.; Ghiasi, G.; Farshchi, S.; Malek Khatabi, P. Effects of Boswellia papyrifera gum extract on learning and memory in mice and rats. Iran. J. Basic Med. Sci., 2010, 13(2), 9-15.
Mahmoudi, A.; Hosseini-Sharifabad, A.; Monsef-Esfahani, H.R.; Yazdinejad, A.R.; Khanavi, M.; Roghani, A.; Beyer, C.; Sharifzadeh, M. Evaluation of systemic administration of Boswellia papyrifera extracts on spatial memory retention in male rats. J. Nat. Med., 2011, 65(3-4), 519-525.
[] [PMID: 21479965]
Hosseini-Sharifabad, M.; Kamali-Ardakani, R.; Hosseini-Sharifabad, A. Beneficial effect of Boswellia serrata gum resin on spatial learning and the dendritic tree of dentate gyrus granule cells in aged rats. Avicenna J. Phytomed., 2016, 6(2), 189-197.
[PMID: 27222832]
Beheshti, S.; Karimi, B. Frankincense improves memory retrieval in rats treated with Lipopolysaccharide. J. Herb.Med. Pharmacol., 2016, 5(1), 12-16.
Jalili, C.; Salahshoor, M.R.; Moradi, S.; Pourmotabbed, A.; Motaghi, M. The therapeutic effect of the aqueous extract of Boswellia serrata on the learning deficit in kindled rats. Int. J. Prev. Med., 2014, 5(5), 563-568.
[PMID: 24932387]
Khalaj-Kondori, M.; Sadeghi, F.; Hosseinpourfeizi, M.A.; Shaikhzadeh-Hesari, F.; Nakhlband, A.; Rahmati-Yamchi, M. Boswellia serrata gum resin aqueous extract upregulates BDNF but not CREB expression in adult male rat hippocampus. Turk. J. Med. Sci., 2016, 46(5), 1573-1578.
[] [PMID: 27966331]
Fathi, E.; Katouli, F.H.; Riazi, G.H.; Shasaltaneh, M.D.; Parandavar, E.; Bayati, S.; Afrasiabi, A.; Nazari, R. The effects of alpha boswellic acid on reelin expression and tau phosphorylation in human astrocytes. Neuromolecular Med., 2017, 19(1), 136-146.
[] [PMID: 27567921]
Ammon, H.P. Salai Guggal - Boswellia serrata: From a herbal medicine to a non-redox inhibitor of leukotriene biosynthesis. Eur. J. Med. Res., 1996, 1(8), 369-370.
[PMID: 9360935]
Hosseini, S.M.; Esfandiari, E. Quantitative analysis of hippocampal neuron number and size following prenatal administration of Boswellla serrata gum resin in adult rats. Majallah-i Danishkadah-i Pizishki-i Isfahan, 2005, 23(76-77), 58-63.
Sharifabad, M.H.; Esfandiary, E. The effects of maternal administration of Boswellia Gum Resin (Frankincense) during lactation on stereological parameters of rat hippocampus. Majallah-i Danishkadah-i Pizishki-i Isfahan, 2012, 29(165)
Hosseini Sharifabad, M.; Esfandiary, E. A morphometeric study on CA3 hippocampal field in young rats following maternal administration of Boswellia serrata resin during gestation. Iran. J. Basic Med. Sci., 2007, 10(3), 176-182.
Karima, O.; Riazi, G.; Yousefi, R.; Movahedi, A.A. The enhancement effect of beta-boswellic acid on hippocampal neurites outgrowth and branching (an in vitro study). Neurol. Sci., 2010, 31(3), 315-320.
[] [PMID: 20217445]
Hosseini, M.; Hadjzadeh, M.A.; Derakhshan, M.; Havakhah, S.; Rassouli, F.B.; Rakhshandeh, H.; Saffarzadeh, F. The beneficial effects of olibanum on memory deficit induced by hypothyroidism in adult rats tested in Morris water maze. Arch. Pharm. Res., 2010, 33(3), 463-468.
[] [PMID: 20361313]
Brasted, P.J.; Bussey, T.J.; Murray, E.A.; Wise, S.P. Role of the hippocampal system in associative learning beyond the spatial domain. Brain, 2003, 126(Pt 5), 1202-1223.
[] [PMID: 12690059]
Yassin, N.; El-Shenawy, S.; Mahdy, K.A.; Gouda, N.; Marrie, A.; Farrag, A.; Ibrahim, B. Effect of Boswellia serrata on Alzheimer’s disease induced in rats. J. Arab Soc. Med. Res., 2013, 8, 1-11.
Beheshti, S.; Aghaie, R. Therapeutic effect of frankincense in a rat model of Alzheimer’s disease. Avicenna J. Phytomed., 2016, 6(4), 468-475.
[PMID: 27516988]
Mahboubi, M.; Taghizadeh, M.; Talaei, S.A.; Takht Firozeh, S.M.; Rashidi, A.A.; Tamtaji, O.R. Combined administration of Melissa officinalis and Boswellia serrata extracts in an animal model of memory. Iran. J. Psychiatry. Behav. Sci., 2016, 10(3)e681
[] [PMID: 27822272]
Majdinasab, N.; Siahpush, A.; Mousavinejad, S.K.; Malayeri, A.; Sajedi, S.A.; Bizhanzadeh, P. Effect of Boswellia serrata on cognitive impairment in multiple sclerosis patients. J. Herb. Med., 2016, 6(3), 119-127.
Kirste, S.; Treier, M.; Wehrle, S.J.; Becker, G.; Abdel-Tawab, M.; Gerbeth, K.; Hug, M.J.; Lubrich, B.; Grosu, A.L.; Momm, F. Boswellia serrata acts on cerebral edema in patients irradiated for brain tumors: A prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind pilot trial. Cancer, 2011, 117(16), 3788-3795.
[] [PMID: 21287538]
Moein, P.; Abbasi Fard, S.; Asnaashari, A.; Baratian, H.; Barekatain, M.; Tavakoli, N.; Moein, H. The effect of Boswellia Serrata on neurorecovery following diffuse axonal injury. Brain Inj., 2013, 27(12), 1454-1460.
[] [PMID: 24088189]
Taghizadeh, M.; Maghaminejad, F.; Aghajani, M.; Rahmani, M.; Mahboubi, M. The effect of tablet containing Boswellia serrata and Melisa officinalis extract on older adults’ memory: A randomized controlled trial. Arch. Gerontol. Geriatr., 2018, 75, 146-150.
[] [PMID: 29306113]
Singh, P.; Chacko, K.M.; Aggarwal, M.L.; Bhat, B.; Khandal, R.K.; Sultana, S.; Kuruvilla, B.T. A-90 day gavage safety assessment of Boswellia serrata in rats. Toxicol. Int., 2012, 19(3), 273-278.
[] [PMID: 23293466]
Huang, M.T.; Badmaev, V.; Ding, Y.; Liu, Y.; Xie, J.G.; Ho, C.T. Anti-tumor and anti-carcinogenic activities of triterpenoid, beta-boswellic acid. Biofactors, 2000, 13(1-4), 225-230.
[] [PMID: 11237186]
Chu, J.; Giannopoulos, P.F.; Ceballos-Diaz, C.; Golde, T.E.; Praticò, D. 5-Lipoxygenase gene transfer worsens memory, amyloid, and tau brain pathologies in a mouse model of Alzheimer disease. Ann. Neurol., 2012, 72(3), 442-454.
[] [PMID: 23034916]
Azemi, M.E.; Namjoyan, F.; Khodayar, M.J.; Ahmadpour, F.; Darvish Padok, A.; Panahi, M. The antioxidant capacity and anti-diabetic effect of Boswellia serrata Triana and Planch aqueous extract in fertile female diabetic rats and the possible effects on reproduction and histological changes in the liver and kidneys. Jundishapur J. Nat. Pharm. Prod., 2012, 7(4), 168-175.
[] [PMID: 24624177]
Hartmann, R.M.; Fillmann, H.S.; Martins, M.I.; Meurer, L.; Marroni, N.P. Boswellia serrata has beneficial anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties in a model of experimental colitis. Phytother. Res., 2014, 28(9), 1392-1398.
[] [PMID: 24619538]
Jalili, C.; Salahshoor, M.R.; Pourmotabbed, A.; Moradi, S.; Roshankhah, Sh.; Darehdori, A.S.; Motaghi, M. The effects of aqueous extract of Boswellia Serrata on hippocampal region CA1 and learning deficit in kindled rats. Res. Pharm. Sci., 2014, 9(5), 351-358.
[PMID: 25657807]
Streffer, J.R.; Bitzer, M.; Schabet, M.; Dichgans, J.; Weller, M. Response of radiochemotherapy-associated cerebral edema to a phytotherapeutic agent, H15. Neurology, 2001, 56(9), 1219-1221.
[] [PMID: 11342692]

Rights & PermissionsPrintExport Cite as

Article Details

Year: 2020
Page: [355 - 363]
Pages: 9
DOI: 10.2174/2210315509666190311153819
Price: $25

Article Metrics

PDF: 18