By: Kaushalendra Singh
SALALAH: More than its aromatic value, frankincense stores cure for many diseases. Going by its property, the researchers have rightly found frankincense as a cure for many diseases and a panacea used by the ancient people of Oman. While studying the medicinal properties of frankincense, a section of scientists have raised concern over the depleting number of Boswellia Sacra (biological name of the tree) and have sought steps to save the tree before it is too late.
In an interview with the Observer, Dr Mohsin Musalim al Aamri, principal researcher involved in the study on frankincense, deliberated upon the medicinal value of the gum of Boswellia Sacra, which, according to him “has ability to cure inflammation, heart diseases, asthma, skin diseases, and inflammation in bowel. It also cures cancer, brain tumour, diabetes, helps in improving fertility, memory loss and antimicrobial effects.”
Dr Mohsin suggested studies to prove his point. “Frankincense, also known as olibanum (originated from Arabic ‘luban’ means milk) contains triterpenoids with anti-tumour properties. Various Boswellia species have been promising as they contain triterpenoids with anti-tumour properties.”
He raised concern over the depleting number of trees and demanded attention from everyone, including the people of Dhofar.
“Because the trees are spread over a vast area in the mountains of Dhofar and are falling prey to animal grazing and wrong tapping by local people, who cut the trees unscientifically to get maximum resins and sell them in the local market.”
He cited another study (Ammon, 2005) which suggests cure for inflammation through frankincense. “Inflammation is the reaction of our body to something that has happened to the immune system, when we feel pain, redness, or swollen. Olibanum has shown to be effective in treating various inflammatory diseases.”
Omani researcher Dr Ahmad al Harrasi, has also found medicinal values in frankincense. His research is loaded with hope for cancer patients, as he claims that good progress has been made in establishing the fact that a compound from Omani frankincense can be very useful in the treatment of cancer. The researcher has teamed up with international research groups in Germany who are working on the same area.
The finding is a matter of pride for Oman, because the discovery relates to one of the most enduring symbols of Oman’s rich heritage. “The research on the frankincense medicine is an innovative self-developed methodology to enhance, isolate, purify and quantify one of the most active compounds tested as anti cancer compound (AKBA),” said Dr Ahmad.
The AKBA compound, according to Dr Ahmed, “is very costly due to its medicinal importance and due to the lack of any total synthesis to date. We consider this achievement as a value addition to the country and to humanity. Gram-scale production will enable further medicinal elaborations which will push this compound to the drug market. The anti-cancer activities of this compound can be demonstrated by numerous research publications that all proved its huge potential as a future promising cancer drug,” said Dr Ahmad while citing his own research.
Commenting on the idea of doing research on the topic, Dr Ahmed said: “After five years of hard work studying six grades of Omani frankincense, we were able to know the nature of the boswellic acids exist in the resin with their structures and percentages. Among these, an extremely potent well-known compound was found in the resin of Omani frankincense know as AKBA. This compound is very costly and is monopolised by one company only that isolates it from the Indian frankincense and sales it for very high prices. After studying the chemical profile which took more than four years, we found that this component exists in low amounts and be semi-synthesised from other similar compounds in the resin.”
Unfortunately, the concentration of AKBA, is very low and it is therefore very difficult and time consuming to isolate large amounts of this compound. Via two-steps approach, large-scale synthesis of AKBA and the other boswellic acids is achieved which successfully enhanced its percentage.
SOURCE: OMAN DAILY OBSERVER