Best Sulforaphane Supplements for Nrf2 Activation – Containing Glucoraphanin + Myrosinase

For a while now, Sulforaphane has been a hot topic within the scientific community. Its received particular attention from Rhonda Patrick and Tim Ferriss. Whilst it can consumed via broccoli sprouts, these aren’t always easy or convenient to consume. The below post discusses the best supplement options.

Jed Fahey, one of the leading researchers in the field, warns us to be careful of which supplement we use. Saying their lab, which has analyzed dozens of supplements over the years, has found that many are terrible, and don’t contain what they say they do.

To complicate matters, there are 3 main ways to consume sulforaphane:

  1. Pure Sulforaphane – Average bioavailability of 70%*
  2. Glucoraphanin + Myrosinase – Average bioavailability of 35%*
  3. Glucoraphanin – Average bioavailability of 10%*

* Bioavailability numbers come from Jed Fahey’s research at Johns Hopkins. See source #3 below for more info.

Below are a list of the best sulforaphane supplements. All are currently used by Jed Fahey’s team at Johns Hopkins University in their clinical studies:

1. Prostaphane

Consuming active sulforaphane itself has the greatest potential affect (measured using a term called bioavailability). Currently, there is only one free-form stabilized sulphoraphane product on the market. Its name is Prostaphane, and is manufactured in France by a company called Nutrinov.

You may see products advertising that they contain Sulforaphane (specifically Sulforaphane Glucosinolate), however, it should be noted that this is misleading. Whilst it is technically accurate to say that they contain the glucosinolate form of sulforaphane, actually they contain glucoraphanin. It then needs to be converted into sulforaphane via myrosinase.


2. Avmacol

The next best alternative to active sulforaphane is consuming the precursor glucoraphanin alongside the activation enzyme myrosinase.

Avmacol is a high end supplement made by Nutramax Laboratories. It is glucoraphanin extracted from Broccoli seeds, plus the active myrosinase enzyme.

Each Avmacol pack contains 60 tablets, which at 2 tablets per day, is a 1 months supply.


3. Crucera-SGS

Crucera-SGS is a supplement from Thorne Research containing concentrated glucoraphanin.

Crucera-SGS comes in 60 tablet packs, doses at 1 tablet per day, so 2 months supply.

As briefly mentioned above, although the supplement ingredients read “Sulforaphane Glucosinolate”, this isn’t to be confused with active sulforaphane (found in prostaphane). Sulforaphane Glucosinolate is actually Glucoraphanin, before it has been transformed by the enzyme myrosinase, into sulforaphane.

To recap:

  • All 3 supplements mentioned above are currently used in clinical trials by Johns Hopkins University. This means that they’ve been tested and confirmed to contain what they say.
  • The most bioavailable sulforaphane supplement you can buy is called prostaphane, but so far, is only distributed in France.
  • Next most bioavailable (and accessible in the USA) is Avmacol, because it bundles the enzyme myrosinase alongside its glucoraphanin.

Growing & Consuming Fresh Broccoli Sprouts

If you’ve read through the above, you’ll realize there doesn’t exist an optimal supplement. Even if prostaphane were available in the USA, its cost would likely be high.

Whilst supplements are great for busy lifestyles, whilst you’re on the go. If you’ll be staying in one place for a while, a good alternative is to grow broccoli sprouts yourself.

It’s really simple to grow broccoli sprouts, you just need a seed sprouter (Rhonda uses Ball jars + sprouter lids, but any jar + mesh will do), and some organic broccoli sprout seeds. This video gives a good overview on how to produce your own.

The dosage used in clinical trials often ranges from 30-60mg of sulforaphane. Estimates land fresh broccoli sprouts at a concentration of about 1 gram fresh weight to around 0.45mg of sulforaphane. So to achieve 30-60mg, you’d need to consume between 67-134g of sprouts.

Rhonda says (on her latest Tim Ferriss podcast) she consumes up to 4 ounces (113g) of broccoli sprouts a few times per week. Broccoli seeds yield approximately 5:1. So this means if you start off with 1 ounce of broccoli seeds, you’d end up with approximately 5 ounces of sprouts.

To achieve Rhonda’s 8 ounces consumption per week, you need to grow approximately 1 and a 1/2 ounces (43g) of seeds each week. To put a price to that, Todd’s seeds (for example) are $24 per pound (1lb = 16 ounces). So you’re looking at a cost of $2.25 of seeds per week. That’s not very expensive, given the potential long term health benefits.

Granted, if you’re consuming 4 ounces of broccoli sprouts in one sitting, its a lot. You’ll probably want to emulate Rhonda, and blend them in with a smoothie. Her blender of choice (like Joe Rogan) is the Blendtec Classic. But any decent blender will do.

Its worth also taking a look at Rhonda’s video on tripling the bioavailability of sulforaphane your sprouts. Essentially you heat your broccoli sprouts to 70C, hot enough that it disables the epithiospecifier protein, but not too hot that it disables the myrocinase enzyme (responsible for converting the glucoraphanin into sulforaphane). We do this because glucoraphanin can be converted into two forms of sulforaphane (regular sulforaphane, the stuff we want, and sulforaphane nitrile, which does not contain the anti-carcinogenic properties we want). By knocking out the epithiospecifier protein, which is needed for converting glucoraphanin to sulforaphane nitrile, we increase potential conversion to regular sulforaphane (yay!).

She uses a Famili temperature monitor to ensure she gets the water at 70C.

Rhonda’s broccoli sprouting setup. Complete with Ball jars, sprouting lids, regular teapot, famili temperature monitor and blendtec blender.


  1. Chemoprotection Center At Johns Hopkins University FAQ
  2. Jed Fahey Interview on Rhonda Patrick’s Podcast
  3. Further publications from Johns Hopkins University research

P.S. Check out this post on supplements that Rhonda Patrick takes – these can make good additions to sulforaphane.

Collagen Supplements May Help Manage Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, characterized by the breakdown of cartilage within joints.

Pain killers or anti-inflammatory medications can help reduce symptoms, but their impact on arthritis is limited.

Dietary supplements containing collagen may also be effective. Recently, scientists examined the effects of undenatured type II collagen on symptoms of osteoarthritis.


Collagen Supplements

Collagen Supplements


Type II collagen is found in articular cartilage, which helps the joints move smoothly and prevents the bones from rubbing together when you move.

Previous studies indicate that taking type II collagen supplements may reduce joint pain and stiffness for people who have rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis.

However, the collagen in supplements is sometimes processed by heating. This type of collagen is referred to as denatured collagen, which may be less beneficial than undenatured collagen.

Undenaturated type II collagen (UC-II) is a patented dietary supplement produced from chicken bones.

Several previous studies have found that UC-II may significantly relieve symptoms in people with arthritis. Below is an overview of their findings from over the years:

  • 2002: Taking 10 grams of UC-II for 42 days significantly reduced pain and morning joint stiffness.
  • 2009: Supplementing with 40 grams of UC-II for 90 days improved symptoms of osteoarthritis by 33% — significantly more than glucosamine plus chondroitin.
  • 2013: Supplementing with 40 grams of UC-II for 120 days improved knee joint mobility. However, joint pain did not decrease.


Scientists from Interhealth Nutraceuticals and the University of California examined the effects of UC-II supplements on knee osteoarthritis symptoms.

Efficacy and tolerability of an undenatured type II collagen supplement in modulating knee osteoarthritis symptoms: a multicenter randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.


The purpose of this double-blind, randomized, controlled trial was to examine the effects of undenatured type II collagen (UC-II) on symptoms of knee osteoarthritis.

The study, which lasted for 180 days, was conducted at 13 research centers in southern India. The 191 participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups:

  • UC-II: Participants took two capsules, containing 40 mg of a UC-II supplement, every day. This dose provided 1.2 mg of bioactive UC-II.
  • GC: This group took capsules containing a mixture of glucosamine hydrochloride (1500 mg) and chondroitin sulfate (1200 mg) each day.
  • Placebo: Participants in this group took a placebo, which had no effects on osteoarthritis.

At the beginning and end of the study, the researchers assessed the symptoms of osteoarthritis using the Western Ontario McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC).

Other measurements included knee mobility, joint function, subjective ratings of pain and circulating levels of inflammatory markers.

164 arthritic men and women completed the study, or 86% of those who started.

Bottom Line: This was a randomized, controlled trial examining the effects of undenatured type II collagen (UC-II) on osteoarthritis symptoms.


Osteoarthritis symptoms were calculated from the results of the WOMAC questionnaire, which contains three subscales: pain, stiffness and knee function.

The score ranged from 0–2400, from no symptoms to severe pain and dysfunction.

Supplementing with UC-II improved the overall WOMAC score by 39%, significantly more than the placebo or GC. These results can be seen in the chart below.


When the subscales of the WOMAC were examined separately, UC-II significantly improved symptoms in all of them.

Conversely, participants in the GC group experienced no statistically significant improvements.

Bottom Line: Supplementing with UC-II, 40 mg/day for 180 days, significantly improved subjective ratings of knee osteoarthritis symptoms.


Knee joint function was estimated using the Lequesne Functional Index (LFI), which is a 10-question survey assessing pain, walking distance and activities of daily living.

The LFI score ranged from 0–24, from no symptoms to a severe condition.

For the participants who supplemented with UC-II, the LFI score improved by 37%, compared to the start of the study.

This improvement was significantly greater than in the GC group or the placebo group, which can be seen in the chart below.

Lequesne Functional Index

These results were consistent with the results of the WOMAC questionnaire, which showed that supplementing with UC-II improved knee joint function by 39% and stiffness by 41%.

Bottom Line: Supplementing with UC-II significantly improved knee joint function and stiffness.


Knee pain was assessed using a visual analog scale (VAS) questionnaire, which included 7 pain-related questions.

Supplementing with UC-II improved ratings on the VAS scale by 39%. This was greater than both the GC group or the placebo, as shown in the chart below.

visual analog scale

These results were supported by the pain subscale of the WOMAC questionnaire, showing a 41% reduction in knee pain.

However, despite improvements in pain, inflammatory markers did not decrease significantly.

Bottom Line: Supplementing with UC-II significantly improved knee joint pain, compared to the GC or placebo supplements.


The study had a few potential limitations. First, the results were based on subjective ratings of symptoms, which are prone to bias.

Second, the study was solely funded by InterHealth Nutraceuticals, the company that owns the patent for UC-II.

Additionally, all study materials were supplied by Interhealth Nutraceuticals, and two of the paper’s authors were employees of the company.

However, the study was independently conducted by an Indian company, Laila Pharmaceuticals. Also, an independent statistician performed all analyses and calculations.

Although there is no specific reason to doubt the findings, the results should be confirmed by an independent research group.

Bottom Line: The study’s main limitation was a potential conflict of interest. However, apart from funding the study and writing the paper, independent partners conducted the study itself.


In short, this study showed that supplementing with 40 mg (two capsules) of undenatured type II collagen (UC-II) improved symptoms of osteoarthritis.

Specifically, UC-II improved knee function and reduced pain and stiffness.

Simply put, if you have osteoarthritis, taking UC-II could make a difference.

Right Chlorella Dosage for Different Uses

We’ve all heard about the superfood chlorella and all the wonderful things it can do to the entire human body. It offers a boatload of healthy benefits, and a lot of people just can’t get enough of it. However, we all have to be careful when we take in chlorella. A specific chlorella dosage is needed for specific purposes. And before we take in the stuff, we have to know beforehand how much we should have.

This superfood comes in many different forms, with the popular ones being capsules, tablets, juice, or powder. So before taking in any of these forms, make sure to know how much is each form carrying.

Ingesting too much of chlorella has negative side effects. It’s not true that you can take in as much as you want in order to get maximum results. Nope, that’s not how it works. When you ingest too much of this substance, you may experience nausea and vomiting. Others start feeling sick and get stomach cramps, upset stomach, and other gastrointestinal issues.

Chlorella Dosage

The right chlorella dosage to take in depends on a number of factors. These include the user’s age, health, and other conditions. But just always bear in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe. That’s why knowing the right amount of dosages is very important. Be sure to follow specific directions on product labels. Also, don’t forget to consult your pharmacist or primary physician before adding chlorella into your daily diet.

So how much should you be really taking? According to experts, the maintenance chlorella dosage is 3–8 grams. With these amounts, your body will already start reaping some healthy benefits and experience a slow, gradual detox.

Chlorella is safe for kids to take too. Powdered chlorella or crushed chlorella tablets are your best bet. Doses of the superfood should be adjusted, depending on the weight of the child. The recommended chlorella dose for children is around 1 gram.

It’s advised to take chlorella at least half an hour before meals, along with a full glass of water or some juice. The reason for this is because chlorella helps the stomach bacteria that helps in digestion to multiply quickly. This then leads to improved digestion as well as the proper and efficient absorption of nutrients.

Keep in mind that if you’re starting to add chlorella in your diet for the first time, you should always start with small doses first. Don’t overwhelm your body with this new element.

Chlorella Dosage for Specific Issues

Different diseases and illnesses require various chlorella dosage in order to be eliminated. Here are certain guidelines and chlorella dosage to take note of.

Mercury Detoxification

Our bodies are exposed to various toxins and harmful elements every single day. One of these toxins that we absorb, sometimes without our knowledge, is mercury. Over time, when the mercury content in our bodies build up, we will start to experience a number of things, and all of them not good.

First, they can do damage to our central and peripheral nervous systems. This can also affect our digestive system, immune system, lungs, and kidneys.

Luckily, if you take in the right chlorella dosage, this will gradually help your body rid these toxins naturally. Around 5–7 grams of chlorella per day is sufficient enough to effectively rid the body of mercury.

Better and Healthier Skin

Plenty of studies show that chlorella can do wonders on the skin. This superfood greatly lessens oxidative stress, which is from pollution, poor diet, stress, and other factors. Its high vitamin A and vitamin C content also contributes to younger-looking skin. These two vitamins act as antioxidants that protect the skin from harmful free radicals.

Taking in just 1 to 2 teaspoons (3–4 grams) of chlorella every day will show results in as little as two weeks.

Lower Cholesterol and Blood Sugar Levels

Many Americans today either suffer from type-2 diabetes, high cholesterol, or both. Our recent eating habits and food availability, including stress and lack of sleep,  have led to these two diseases.

According to a study in the Journal of Medicinal Food, the effective chlorella dosage to help alleviate these two illnesses is 8,000 mg per day. Take note that this dosage should be taken in two doses, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

What happens first is a decline in cholesterol levels. Then the improvement in blood glucose follows after. This is because chlorella activates certain genes at the cellular level, and these genes improve insulin sensitivity. This leads to a healthy balance.

Improved Immune System

Harmful free radicals are what bring about diseases and illnesses to the human body. In order to protect our bodies, our immune system has to be strong enough to resist these outside factors.

Good thing that just the right dose of chlorella can ensure a stronger defense system. Just 5 grams of chlorella supplement per day will increase the natural killer cell activity in your system. This ensures better immunity against bacterial as well as viral infections.

Tips in Using Chlorella

Before purchasing your own stash of this superfood, there are certain things that you need to watch out for. To make sure that it’s digestible, double-check to see if its label says it’s broken cell wall chlorella.

Also, make sure that the chlorella that you purchase contains no additives. Make sure that you are buying quality organic chlorella.

Additionally, make sure to check that the product contains no contaminants. Make sure the label of the product shows basic information about it.

If you’re taking any other medication, like birth control pills, make sure to take your chlorella supplement an hour before other meds. Ideally, it’s best if you take chlorella in the morning and the other medication at night.

Supplements that help alleviate diabetes

Low-carb diets can provide you with powerful health benefits, including lowering your blood sugar and insulin levels, helping you lose weight and reducing disease risk. A growing number of studies suggest that these effects may be enhanced by taking certain supplements.

At this point there aren’t a lot of high-quality studies looking at the effects of spices and other plant compounds on health markers in people with diabetes and prediabetes. However, the research that currently exists is pretty impressive.

Although the supplements discussed in this chapter are considered safe if taken in the recommended dosages, individual adverse reactions cannot be ruled out. Therefore, starting with a small dosage and assessing your personal tolerance is highly recommended.

In addition, if you are taking any medications, be sure to discuss potential interactions between these supplements and your medicines with your pharmacist to make sure it is safe to take them together.


Berberine may provide a number of beneficial effects on metabolic health. This orange-colored compound is found in several plants, including goldenseal,

barberry and Oregon grape root. It has been prized in ancient Chinese medicine for centuries due to its strong anti-inflammatory properties.

A number of studies have shown that it can also help lower blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes (187, 188, 189, 190).

Indeed, a large analysis of 14 studies totalling more than 1000 people revealed that berberine is as effective at lowering blood sugar levels as metformin, one of the oldest and safest diabetes medications (190).

Like metformin, berberine works by reducing the amount of sugar released by your liver and making your cells more sensitive to insulin. This insulin-sensitizing effect also seems to promote weight loss and improve heart health markers.

In a small study, 9 adults with prediabetes who took 900 mg of berberine daily for 3 months had significant reductions in weight, belly fat, cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure (191, 192).

How to get the best results when taking berberine:

  • In studies, effective dosages have ranged from 300 mg 3 times per day to 500 mg 3 times per day. As with metformin, it’s best to start with a lower dosage like 300-500 mg once a day and work up to 300-500 mg 3 times a day, as tolerated.

  • Always take berberine with a meal.

  • Because its action is so similar to metformin, it should not be used together with metformin or other diabetes medications unless recommended by your doctor.


Like berberine, curcumin has strong anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin is the bright-gold pigment found in turmeric, one of the main spices in Indian curries and an important component of Ayurvedic medicine.

Studies suggest that taking curcumin increases insulin sensitivity and could potentially help people with prediabetes avoid progressing to diabetes (193, 194).

In a 9-month controlled study of 240 adults with prediabetes, one group took 750 mg of curcumin daily, and the other group received a placebo (“dummy pill”).

Although 16.4% of the control group developed diabetes by the end of the study, not a single person in the curcumin group did. What’s more, those who took curcumin were found to be more insulin sensitive and have better beta cell function following treatment (194).

How to get the best results when taking curcumin:

  • In studies, dosages of 250 mg taken 2-3 times per day have been used.

  • Since curcumin is a fat-soluble vitamin, it’s important to take it with a meal that contains fat — which should be the case for all of your meals on a

low-carb diet.

  • Curcumin is poorly absorbed on its own. However, taking it with 10 mg of piperine (from black pepper) can significantly boost its absorption by up to 2000% (195). There are some brands of supplements that contain bioperine, which is identical to piperine and also helps boost absorption of curcumin.


Cinnamon is a delicious spice with powerful antioxidant effects. Research in those with type 2 diabetes and prediabetes suggests cinnamon can lower blood sugar levels and improve the way your cells respond to insulin (196, 197, 198, 199, 200).

In one study of 109 diabetic adults, the group who took 1 gram of cinnamon for 3 months reduced their hemoglobin A1c values more than twice as much as those who only received standard medical treatment (200).

Cinnamon also appears to protect heart health. One analysis of 10 studies found that in addition to lowering fasting blood sugar, cinnamon increased HDL

cholesterol and reduced LDL cholesterol and triglycerides in many people with type 2 diabetes (201).

On the other hand, some studies haven’t shown that cinnamon lowers blood sugar very much among those with diabetes, which suggests that cinnamon’s effects on blood sugar may vary from person to person (202, 203).

There are two main types of cinnamon: cassia and ceylon. Cassia is the type most commonly found in the spices section at grocery stores.

Of the two kinds, Ceylon contains more antioxidants and may therefore have more potent effects on blood sugar. In addition, cassia cinnamon contains significantly more coumarin, a compound that has been linked to liver damage when consumed in high amounts.

How to get the best results when taking cinnamon:

  • Most studies have used between 1 to 6 grams of cinnamon daily. Taking up to 6 grams of Ceylon cinnamon (about 1.5 to 3 teaspoons) per day should pose no safety concerns.

  • Cassia cinnamon should be limited to 2 grams (0.5 to 1 teaspoon) daily in order to protect against coumarin’s potentially harmful effects.

  • Cinnamon may cause your blood to become thinner, so you may need to avoid taking it as a supplement if you take aspirin or a blood thinner.

Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar has been used as a health tonic in traditional medicine for centuries and has been credited with all sorts of health benefits.

Research suggests that taking apple cider vinegar can suppress appetite, increase feelings of fullness and promote weight loss (204, 205).

A 12-week study in overweight people with type 2 diabetes found that taking 1-2 tablespoons of vinegar daily led to small losses of weight and reductions in belly

fat and triglycerides. These changes occurred even though the men continued to follow their usual diets (205).

Studies have found that apple cider vinegar may also help lower blood sugar and insulin levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

Although the strongest effects have occurred when vinegar is taken with high-carb foods, it may also help lower blood sugar when taken with protein foods.

In a controlled study of type 2 diabetic adults, the group that took apple cider vinegar with cheese at bedtime experienced twice the decrease in fasting blood sugar the next morning as those who consumed cheese with water (206).

How to get the best results when taking apple cider vinegar:

  • The amount of apple cider vinegar shown to lower blood sugar and promote weight loss in studies is 1-2 tablespoons (15-30 ml) per day, mixed with water. Taking larger amounts isn’t recommended due to potentially harmful side effects that can occur at high dosages.

  • Begin by taking 1 teaspoon (5 ml) per day and gradually work up to 1-2 tablespoons, depending on your personal tolerance.

  • Avoid taking more than 1 tablespoon at a time. Taking too much apple cider vinegar at one sitting may cause nausea.

If you are taking any medications for diabetes or other health conditions, remember to consult your pharmacist before taking these or other supplements.

Sulforaphane (broccoli extract) slashes diabetics’ blood sugar

Doctors frequently tell us to eat our greens, but soon they could be prescribing broccoli. A powder that contains concentrated extract from the vegetable could prove indispensable to people with type 2 diabetes. The extract reduced blood sugar levels by up to 10 per cent in people with the disease.

Type 2 diabetes usually develops around middle age, often in people who are overweight. Their body stops responding to insulin, which controls the level of glucose in the blood. Abnormal insulin regulation causes a rise in blood sugar levels, which can raise people’s chances of heart attacks, blindness and kidney problems.

People with the condition are often prescribed metformin, which helps to lower blood glucose. However, as many as 15 per cent cannot take this therapy because of kidney damage risks.

“More research is needed to see if this repurposed drug can be used to treat Type 2 diabetes, as it was only tested in a small number of people and only helped a subset of those who are taking it,” says Elizabeth Robertson, of the charity Diabetes UK. “For now, we recommend that people continue with the treatment prescribed by their healthcare team.”

Clever greens

A chemical called sulforaphane, found in broccoli sprouts, has previously demonstrated an ability to reduce glucose levels in diabetic rats. Anders Rosengren of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, and his colleagues wondered whether the same might be true for humans. To test the theory, his team gave 97 people with type 2 diabetes a concentrated dose of sulforaphane every day for three months, or a placebo. All but three people in the trial continued taking metformin. Those who didn’t take metformin were able to control their condition relatively well without it.

The concentration of sulforaphane given was around 100 times that found naturally in broccoli. “It was the same as eating around five kilograms of broccoli daily,” says Rosengren.


On average, those who received the broccoli extract saw their blood glucose reduce by 10 per cent more than those on the placebo. The extract was most effective in obese participants with “dysregulated” diabetes, whose baseline glucose levels were higher to start with.

“We’re very excited about the effects we’ve seen and are eager to bring the extract to patients,” says Rosengren. “We saw a reduction of glucose of about 10 per cent, which is sufficient to reduce complications in the eyes, kidneys and blood,” he says.


Complimentary medicine

Further investigations showed that while both metformin and sulphoraphane cut blood glucose, they do it in different ways. Metformin makes cells more sensitive to insulin, so they sponge more surplus glucose out of the bloodstream. Sulphoraphane reduces glucose by suppressing liver enzymes that otherwise stimulate the production of glucose.

For this reason, Rosengren thinks the broccoli extract is complementary to metformin, not competitive. But he points out that many people with diabetes can’t take metformin because of kidney complications, so the broccoli extract could be an ideal substitute in these cases.

In collaboration with the Swedish Farmers’ Association, Rosengren and his colleagues are applying to regulatory authorities to seek approval for the powder, which could take as little as two years.

Rosengren also plans to explore potential benefits of the extract in people who are pre-diabetic, and so not yet taking metformin.

Journal reference: Science Translational Medicine, DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aah4477



The Many benefits of Gingko Biloba

Ginkgo biloba - Dr. Axe

Ginkgo biloba, which is also known as maidenhair, is an ancient plant extract that has been used in China medicinally to heal various health ailments for thousands of years. In fact, the University of Maryland Medical Center reports that ginkgo biloba is the oldest tree species on earth, and today it is one of the top-selling herbal treatments worldwide.

Ginkgo’s been widely studied for its effective anti-inflammatoryantioxidant, platelet-forming and circulation-boosting effects. According to current research, ginkgo biloba benefits include improved cognitive function, positive mood, increased energy, improved memory and reduced symptoms related to multiple chronic diseases — for instance, it’s been used as an asthma natural remedyADHD natural remedy and dementia treatment. In fact, it’s believed to be so effective that it’s even a prescription herb in Germany!

What Is Ginkgo Biloba?

Ginkgo biloba (which goes by the scientific name Salisburia adiantifolia) is a natural extract derived from the leaf of the Chinese ginkgo tree, also called the maidenhair tree. EGb761 and GBE are the scientific terms for standardized extract of the green ginkgo biloba plant, which is often noted for its cerebral-enhancing effects.

Ginkgo has been studied for decades in France, Germany and China. And although Chinese herbal medicine has used both the dried ginkgo leaf and seed for thousands of years, today the focus in clinical studies is on the effectiveness of standardized ginkgo biloba liquid extract made from the plant’s dried green leaves.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine and current clinical studies, ginkgo biloba is safe, effective and benefits the body in numerous ways because it exerts protective effects against mitochondrial damage and oxidative stress. It’s been used in Chinese herbal medicine to treat a variety of medical conditions since ancient times, especially circulatory problems and those related to declining memory.

What makes ginkgo so powerful? Ginkgo biloba extract contains two constituents (flavonoids and terpenoids) that have strong antioxidant properties. It’s believed these may help slow down the progression of age-related diseases by combating oxidative stress that usually worsens as someone ages.

While people of all ages seem to benefit from taking ginkgo for various reasons, some results suggest that its cognitive-enhancing effects are more likely to be apparent in individuals aged 50–59 years. According to the University of Maryland,

Scientists have found more than 40 components in ginkgo. But only two are believed to act as medicine: flavonoids and terpenoids. Flavonoids are plant-based antioxidants. Laboratory and animal studies show that flavonoids protect the nerves, heart muscle, blood vessels, and retina from damage. Terpenoids (such as ginkgolides) improve blood flow by dilating blood vessels and reducing the stickiness of platelets.

For people of all ages, its ability to increase vascular dilation and improve health of blood vessels means it supports brain activity, development, detoxifying mechanisms and immune function. Many of ginkgo’s most prominent benefits are tied to brain function like focus and memory as well as mental performance. In fact, according to a report in the International Journal of Phyotherapy and Phytopharmacology, ginkgo biloba is “currently the most investigated and adopted herbal remedy for cognitive disorders and Alzheimer’s disease (AD).”

One theory is that because it can help increase uptake of glucose (broken down sugar) by brain cells, it has the potential to improve the transmission of nerve signals responsible for memory, mood, task completion, heartbeat regulation and eye health — in addition to many other vital functions.

11 Proven Ginkgo Biloba Benefits

1. Increases Concentration

Research shows that ginkgo can help combat poor concentration, reverse cognitive decline and and heal fatigue. It’s even useful for helping to treat cerebral insufficiency — a condition characterized by chronically low concentration, confusion, decreased physical performance, fatigue, headaches and mood changes.

Many of the brain-boosting ginkgo biloba benefits that researchers have discovered rest on the fact that it’s an effective anti-inflammatory that increases antioxidant activity, lowers oxidative stress and improves circulation — all important factors for maintaining cognitive health.

When researchers from the Institute for Medical Psychology at the University of Munich tested the effects of ginkgo on healthy adults’ mental performance over a four-week period, they found significant differences in self-estimated mental health as well as self-estimated quality of life between those taking ginkgo and the placebo group. This is true even though there were no existing differences between the two groups in terms of general health.

The group taking ginkgo experienced better motor performance and emotional health, and reported no known drug-induced side effects or intolerance. No serious adverse events were observed during the study overall, which suggests that ginkgo is a safe and effective way to boost mental capabilities with little risk.

2. Reduces Risk for Dementia and Alzheimer’s

While not a total cure, overall scientific literature suggests that ginkgo biloba benefits people experiencing cognitive decline, including those with dementia of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Certain studies have found ginkgo can help improve cognitive performance and memory in both older and younger adults but might be especially useful for age-related mental decline.

Most studies have investigated the effects of ginkgo on lowering Alzheimer’s symptoms in patients already undergoing standard AD treatment with cholinesterase inhibitor drugs (ChEIs). But when groups of AD patients taking additional ginkgo supplementation have been compared to those not taking ginkgo-combination therapy over at least a one-year period, significant differences in quality of life have been reported, according to scores on the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale (ADAS-Cog) and Activities of Daily Living (ADL) Scale.

Ginkgo might be able to help people recover from strokes or traumatic brain injuries, too. In extract form, it’s widely used in the treatment of acute ischemic stroke in China. When researchers from Beijing University of Chinese Medicine reviewed evidence from 14 randomized controlled trials involving brain injury patients, they found mixed results but reported that ginkgo biloba extract had positive effects on patients’ neurological impairment and quality of life in nine of the trials.

Some studies have even found that in combination with antipsychotic drugs, ginkgo might be an effective supplemental treatment for people with schizophrenia and serious mental disorders. It also has the potential to improve cognitive function in people with multiple sclerosis (MS) — making it a potential natural treatment for multiple sclerosis— although more formal studies are still needed.

3. Helps Fight Anxiety and Depression

If you suffer from chronically high stress that’s killing your quality of life, nervousness, depression or mood swings, ginkgo might be able to help. Research suggests ginkgo biloba benefits the body’s ability to handle stressors and counteracts the effects of high levels of stress hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline.

Known as an adapotgen herb that naturally raises the body’s ability to cope with trouble and worry, it might be especially helpful for people with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and possibly seasonal depression, panic attacks and social phobias, too.

4. Fights Symptoms of PMS

Some early research has shown positive effects of taking ginkgo on reducing PMS symptoms, including mood swings, headaches, anxiety, fatigue and muscle pain. It also appears to have beneficial effects on mood and cognition in postmenopausal women and can help improve similar symptoms.

One 2008 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicinecompared the effects on ginkgo biloba in two groups of women that were similar in terms of demographic characteristics and baseline overall severity of PMS symptoms. After a six-month intervention with ginkgo, there was a significant decrease in the overall severity of physical and psychological symptoms in both the group taking 40 milligrams daily of ginkgo extract and the placebo group; however, a higher percentage of the ginkgo group (23.7 percent) had improvements compared to the placebo (8.7 percent).

5. Helps Maintain Vision and Eye Health

While more evidence is still needed, ginkgo appears to be beneficial for eye health since it improves blood flow to the eyes and fights free radial damage that can harm the cornea, macula and retina. It might be especially beneficial for older adults in preserving vision and lowering UV damage or oxidative stress to eye tissue.

Some studies have found ginkgo to be effective at lowering the risk for age-related macular degeneration thanks to its platelet-activating factors and prevention of membrane damage caused by free radicals. Vascular factors and oxidative damage are thought to be two primary causes of vision loss and other age‐related eye disorders, but antioxidant plants and herbs like ginkgo help mitigate these effects.


Ginkgo benefits infographic - Dr. Axe


6. Helps Prevent or Treat ADHD

Certain studies using combination therapies that include ginkgo have found relief and improved concentration for people with ADHD symptoms. And because it can improve concentration, memory and task performance, it can possibly also reduce symptoms in people with dyslexia.

While more research is still needed, there’s also some early evidence that ginkgo can help reduce behaviors and symptoms of autism, making it a potential autism natural treatment.

7. Improves Libido

It’s believed ginkgo has positive effects on hormonal balance — especially serotonin levels, blood pressure and circulation — therefore it might help some people struggling with erectile dysfunction and low libido. Ginkgo has the potential to dilate blood vessels and improve blood flow to the genitals, which is important for reproductive health.

Some reports show it’s potentially effective in treating antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction predominately caused by selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.

8. Helps Treat Headaches and Migraines

Ginkgo might be an effective way to naturally remedy frequent headaches and reduce the rate and severity of migraines since it reduces pain, increases blood vessel dilation and combats stress that can all trigger an attack. Headaches can be triggered by stress, fatigue, allergies, eyestrain, poor posture, alcohol or drugs, low blood sugar, hormones, constipation, and nutritional deficiencies. The amazing benefits that ginkgo has on our stress and fatigue goes hand in hand with its ability to lessen headache tension.

9. Lowers Symptoms of Asthma

Some studies have found ginkgo extract can reduce asthma-related symptoms. Because it lowers inflammation, improves antioxidant activity and has positive effects on nerve functioning, people have reported less trouble breathing when taking ginkgo.

10. Helps Heal Hemorrhoids

Certain studies have found that ginkgo biloba benefits people experiencing painful hemorrhoids, which cause swelling, pain and bleeding because of an increase in pressure on the veins of the anus and rectum. Ginkgo can help lower pain, improve pain tolerance and decease inflammation, which helps to stop bleeding associated with hemorrhoids, making ginkgo biloba an effective hemorrhoids treatment.

11. Fights Fibromyalgia

Some studies have found that supplementing with CoQ10 and ginkgo together improved quality of life for people diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a disorder of the nervous system. Fibromyalgia is a widespread muscle pain typically accompanied by fatigue; headaches; and difficulty with sleep, anxiety and depression. Ginkgo biloba can be used as a natural fibromyalgia treatment.

Recommended Dosage of Ginkgo Biloba

Effects of ginkgo biloba seem to be dose dependent, so the more you take the bigger results you may see — although you still should carefully stick to recommended values. Depending on the condition, doses can range from 40 to 300 milligrams daily. Some people have reported results in lowering pain and nervousness while taking lower doses around 40 milligrams daily, while other studies have found better cognitive improvements at around 120 milligrams daily. Higher levels are likely needed for older adults and those who have existing hormonal imbalances, inflammation-related symptoms, cognitive impairments and mood disorders.

You can find ginkgo in capsule, tablet, liquid extract or dried leaf form in most health food stores and also online. Look for it in standardized extract form containing 24 percent to 32 percent flavonoids (also known as flavone glycosides or heterosides) and 6 percent to 12 percent terpenoids (triterpene lactones).

Below are the recommended dosages depending on your specific health condition:

  • Memory problems and Alzheimer’s disease: 120–240 milligrams daily in divided doses, standardized to contain 24 percent to 32 percent flavone glycosides (flavonoids or heterosides) and 6 percent to 12 percent triterpene lactones (terpenoids).
  • Low concentration or fatigue (such as for ADHD, depression, mood changes): 120–240 milligrams per day.
  • Inflammatory diseases and those requiring improved blood flow (asthma, PMS, aches or pains, fatigue, fibromyalgia): 120–240 milligrams per day.
  • As of now, researchers feel ginkgo should not be given to children.

How quickly can you expect to see improvements? It can take between four to six weeks to see any effects from ginkgo, so be patient. While it’s possible to feel positive effects sooner, people may need time to experience the inflammation-reducing effects.

Concerns and Interactions of Ginkgo Biloba

Even though ginkgo is considered very safe and unlikely to cause any side effects, as with all herbal treatments there are some precautions you’ll want to take. Some rare cases have reported bleeding in a very small percentage of patients taking ginkgo biloba, so it’s possible that the extract can interact with anticoagulants and antiplatelet agents. It also might interfere with recovery from surgery or serious injuries

As an increasing variety of alternative health care products become available, known to many people as “over-the-counter” treatments, many people choose to take these (sometimes in combination with other herbs) but don’t discuss the herbs with their doctors even when necessary. Some reports show that up to 70 percent of patients might not mention herbal therapy use to their doctors during visits, even when they suffer from existing health conditions or are preparing for surgery.

It’s always a good idea to stick to recommended dosages of any herbs and also mention them to your doctor if you’re taking other prescriptions, preparing for surgery or battling any chronic disorders — this way dangerous interactions don’t potentially occur.

Green Tea shown to prolong lifespan in Mice

Protection from DNA Damage and More

Degenerative aging is the result of the accumulation of pathological processes inflicted on cells, tissues, and organs.1,2 By targeting each of these degenerative processes, premature aging can be slowed and life span prolonged.

Green tea protects against many age-accelerating factors, particularly DNA damage, while also promotingDNA repair. These systems work with extreme precision to identify, remove, and heal damaged DNA.3,4

A recent analysis showed that green tea polyphenols have 200 human target genes, including those involved in inflammation, cancer, diabetes, neurodegenerative, muscular, and cardiovascular disease.5

In addition, green tea supplementation has been found to significantly reduce the risk of diabetes, stroke, and depression and improve blood levels of cholesterol and glucose.6

An exciting longevity study showed that rats supplemented with epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), the most bioactive component of green tea, lived an average of 14% longer than control animals!7

In this article is a top-level review of the most current data on green tea and  epigallocatechin-3-gallate that demonstrates how they combat the underlying causes of aging and disease.

Protective Mechanisms That Prolong Life

Protective Mechanisms That Prolong Life

Green tea (Camellia sinensis) provides powerful protection against two underlying processes that cause premature aging and disease:  oxidative stress and DNA damage.3,4

Simply living on a planet that has highly reactive oxygen in the atmosphere imposes tremendous chemical stresses on virtually all molecules that come into contact with it. This results in damage to both cellular structure and function.

Similarly, all living things rely on their genetic blueprint, preserved in DNA (or sometimes RNA), to maintain healthy, renewable, functional molecules. This includes all of the structural proteins that hold us together and all of the enzymes that carry out the processes of life. DNA damage results from oxidative and other chemical stresses, from radiation, from environmental toxins, and myriad other sources. This poses a major threat to one’s ability to remain robust and healthy.

Studies in both animals and humans have now demonstrated the powerful effect of green tea on preventing, reducing, and repairing tissue damage caused by oxidative stress. Green tea enhances natural cellular protective systems, slows inflammatory responses to chemical stress, improves metabolic performance, and prevents cell death. Importantly, green tea has been shown to have these beneficial effects even during exposure to some of the most dangerous environmental contaminants, such as industrial chemicals and cigarette smoke.8-12

Green tea has equally broad-ranging effects on DNA damage and repair. For starters, it offers strong protection against a major cause of DNA damage: oxygen free radicals. But in addition to protecting against DNA damage, green tea also promotes DNA repair systems by regulating cellular stress response genes. These systems work with extreme precision to identify, remove, and heal damaged DNA.3,4

This was demonstrated in a recent human study in which green tea supplementation reduced DNA damage in white blood cells by 30% after just a single dose. It maintained that level of protection during a week of supplementation.3

In fact, a recent analysis showed that 15 polyphenols from green tea have 200 human target genes, including those involved in cancer, diabetes, neurodegenerative disease, cardiovascular disease, muscular disease, and inflammation.5 This kind of broad-spectrum, multi-targeted action is precisely what is required if one wants to seriously reduce chronic, age-related disease and significantly prolong life.

A remarkable study demonstrates this longevity impact of green tea. Healthy rats supplemented from weaning onward with  epigallocatechin-3-gallate from green tea lived an average of 14% longer than control animals (105 weeks versus 92.5 weeks). They had significant reductions in oxidative stress, inflammation, and liver and kidney damage.7 In addition, two important pro-longevity genes were sharply increased in supplemented animals.

A host of promising studies has appeared in just the last few years, all of which show green tea’s ability to fight a wide spectrum of age-related disorders. Let’s examine these now.

Green Tea Battles Age-Related Disorders

Green Tea Battles Age-Related Disorders

  • Green tea extracts rich in the polyphenol epigallocatechin-3-gallate have shown promise in protecting against a wide range of age-accelerating processes.
  • Chronic oxidative stress, DNA damage, and inflammation all hasten the accumulation of molecular damage that we view as aging and the development of age-related disorders.
  • Green tea and its constituents specifically fight these age-accelerating processes.
  • As a result, green tea extracts and epigallocatechin-3-gallate are now demonstrating the ability to slow or prevent a wide range of symptoms of aging, including the development of metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases, and osteoporosis.
  • Regular supplementation with green tea extracts is a prudent approach to comprehensive deceleration of the aging process.

Green Tea Fights Metabolic Syndrome

By now, most Americans know that metabolic syndrome is a prominent threat to longevity. Nearly 35% of adults and  50% of those older than 59 are known to have the condition,13 which is defined as having three or more of the following: excess abdominal fat, high blood pressure, abnormal lipid profiles, and elevated glucose.14

Having metabolic syndrome is dangerous because it raises the risk of developing heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and cancer. In addition, it may be associated with other age-related, age-accelerating conditions including osteoporosis and neurodegenerative diseases.15-17 This makes combating metabolic syndrome a major target for efforts to slow aging and prolong life span.

This is another way that green tea can ultimately help prolong life span. Numerous studies show that green tea extracts and epigallocatechin-3-gallate can prevent and mitigate metabolic syndrome. Here is a summary of major recent findings in humans:

  • In a study of 56 obese and hypertensive people, daily supplementation with 379 mg of green tea extract for three months significantly improved blood pressure, insulin resistance, and lipid profile.18
  • A study of green tea consumption demonstrates both its benefits and the reason people might favor supplementation with extracts over drinking gallons of tea. Subjects who consumed 16 to 30 cups of green tea per week were 77% less likely to have impaired fasting glucose, a measure of insulin resistance, compared with those who didn’t drink tea.19 Drinking this much green tea can be challenging, yet just one capsule a day of standardized high-potency green tea extract provides more bioavailable epigallocatechin-3-gallate than drinking 16 to 30 cups of green tea each week—and without the caffeine.
  • Green tea extracts added to bread consumed by obese subjects for three months produced significant reductions in fat digestion and absorption.20
  • Both green tea and a green tea extract significantly improved plasma antioxidant capacity and natural blood antioxidant systems in an eight-week study, compared with controls.21

A number of animal studies have given us insight into just how green tea and its extracts have such a major impact on metabolic syndrome. Take a look:

  • In a rat study, green tea extracts enriched with epigallocatechin-3-gallate resulted in significant reductions in body weight, cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, glucose, and insulin.22
  • In a mouse model of accelerated aging (the “SAMP8 mouse”), 12 weeks of epigallocatechin-3-gallate supplementation lowered insulin and glucose levels by modulating cellular transport systems that respond to insulin, while increasing production of new, power-generating, fat-burning mitochondria.23
  • Studies in mice demonstrate that green tea extracts rich in epigallocatechin-3-gallate prevent fatty liver disease, a major manifestation of metabolic syndrome, while also improving insulin resistance and lipid profiles in blood.24,25

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease affects more than 70 million Americans, making prevention or mitigation by green tea a major advance.26

The greatest dangers posed by metabolic syndrome are vascular diseases like heart attack and stroke, which are today’s leading killers.27

Green tea shows promise in preventing an array of cardiovascular disorders, as we’ll see next.

Green Tea Lowers Cardiovascular Risk

Green Tea Lowers Cardiovascular Risk

Large-scale epidemiological studies show that people who regularly drink green tea are at a significantly reduced risk for heart disease and stroke.28 One such study also showed that, compared with those who didn’t drink tea, men who consumed the most green tea had a 64% decrease in the risk of having coronary artery disease, the narrowing of heart blood vessels that precedes a heart attack.29

In a large meta-analysis published in the International Journal of Cardiology, researchers reviewed nine studies that included more than a quarter million individuals. They found that, compared to non-tea drinkers, those who drank one to three cups per day had a 19% reduction in risk of heart attack and a 36% reduction in stroke risk. The reduction in heart attack risk reached 32% in those who consumed more than four cups per day.30

Several interacting and complementary mechanisms account for this impressive risk reduction. Laboratory studies show, for example, that the beneficial molecules found in green tea extract called catechins improve endothelial function, which is the ability of cells lining arterial walls to modulate blood flow and pressure. It accomplishes this by increasing nitric oxide, a molecule that dilates the blood vessels and ultimately lowers blood pressure.31 Improving endothelial dysfunction is critical because it is a major precursor of atherosclerosis and resulting heart disease and stroke.

In addition, epigallocatechin-3-gallate activates natural protective systems in the arteries. This has numerous beneficial effects, including removing a major impediment to nitric oxide production, and minimizing the inflammation-induced thickening of arterial walls.32 As an added benefit, both epigallocatechin-3-gallate and L-theanine (another tea constituent) are capable of preventing blood cells from sticking to artery walls, which is another early step in the development of artery-blocking plaque.33

Recent human studies show that green tea’s ability to reduce oxidative stress has additional benefits. In one study of 40 healthy adults,  500 mg of green tea catechin given orally significantly reduced plasma oxidized LDL by 19% after four weeks. Importantly, this benefit occurred without any lifestyle modification.34

A similar study showed that using 1.5 grams of ground green tea three times daily decreased the susceptibility of LDL cholesterol to oxidation, slowing the formation of oxidized LDL by 40%.35 These studies are significant because oxidized LDL is one of the triggers of arterial inflammation that contributes to the risk of plaque formation and loss of endothelial function. Reducing oxidized LDL is a proven means of reducing heart attack risk.36,37

As shown in the lab studies, reducing oxidative stress in arteries improves endothelial function and helps fight against atherosclerosis. This was verified in a very challenging group of human patients, regular smokers, whose total oxidative stress is massive. Subjects taking  580 mg of green tea catechins daily had significant increases in a measure of endothelial function by two hours after the first dose. This effect persisted for the entire two weeks of the study.28 As expected, this effect was accompanied by significant increases in  nitric oxide.

Green Tea Offers Premium Neuroprotection

Green Tea Offers Premium Neuroprotection

Loss of brain function is one of the most dreaded consequences of aging. It can arise from either chronic chemical stress and overexcitation of brain cells or acute chemical stress that occurs during and immediately after a stroke. The good news is that green tea and its polyphenols offer significant protection against both kinds of brain cell injury.

Specifically, green tea polyphenols (including catechins and epigallocatechin-3-gallate) are now being strongly examined for their potential brain-protective effects against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.38

One factor that can lead to a decline in brain function is excessive mitochondrial oxidative stress. Studies show that green tea catechins help combat this by promoting more efficient mitochondrial function, thereby delaying cognitive decline.39 Epigallocatechin-3-gallate also inhibits the inflammatory response of brain immune cells to chemical stresses by inhibiting a number of key inflammatory pathways.40

Another key way green tea protects against Alzheimer’s is by its actions against beta amyloid protein. This abnormal protein accumulates into dangerous, inflammatory plaques in the brains of those with Alzheimer’s disease and contributes to cell death.38,41 In a lab study, epigallocatechin-3-gallate protected brain cells in culture from the toxic effects of beta amyloidplaque.41

And in an animal model of Alzheimer’s induced by chemical toxicity, pretreating rats with green tea polyphenols reduced the accumulation of  beta amyloid plaques and reduced microscopic brain damage. It also significantly improved the acute learning and memory impairments shown in unsupplemented animals.38

Parkinson’s disease, like Alzheimer’s, is the result of chronic excessive oxidative damage and inflammation. The difference is that they occur in a particular part of the brain that controls movement.42,43 Lab studies have shown that green tea extracts and catechins can reverse those changes and improve Parkinson’s-like behavior in rats.42,43 In addition, green tea polyphenols can directly interfere with the clumping together of the toxic abnormal proteins found in the brains of animals with Parkinson’s disease.43

Ischemic stroke (the kind caused by loss of blood flow) is by far the most common form of stroke. It occurs when arteries in the brain become blocked by atherosclerotic lesions or blood clots. This results in massive oxidative stress. In rat models of ischemic stroke, green tea supplementation has been found to protect the brain in numerous ways. It raises levels of natural antioxidant enzymes, reduces inflammation, minimizes the size of the infarcted (dead) areas of the brain, and reduces the cognitive effects of the injury.44,45

Finally, green tea extracts and epigallocatechin-3-gallate are emerging as powerful allies in the fight against nerve damage in diabetes (diabetic neuropathy), a major complication that leads to disability and early death. It results from the loss of pain-sensitive neurons in the spinal cord as a consequence of high blood sugar, producing severe oxidative stress.46 Studies show that treatment with  epigallocatechin-3-gallate in diabetic rats can normalize chemical stresses and reduce the extreme pain response seen in diabetic neuropathy.46

Green Tea Promotes Bone Health

Green Tea Promotes Bone Health

Osteoporosis is a major health problem in postmenopausal women as well as in a substantial number of older men. In general, it results from excessive bone loss without sufficient new bone formation.47 Studies show that much of the lack of new bone formation is a result of excessive oxidative stresses. This makes green tea an attractive candidate for the prevention of osteoporosis and its destructive consequences.48

And in fact, studies in rat models of menopause show that green tea polyphenols do indeed suppress bone breakdown and promote new bone formation as a result of their ability to fight oxidative stress. The result is an increase in bone mineral density, which is a measure of bone health.49,50

At a deeper molecular level, green tea catechins stimulate new bone-forming cells by modulation of gene expression.47 In addition, epigallocatechin-3-gallate and green tea reduce the expression of inflammation-promoting molecules (cytokines) that contribute to bone loss.51

In humans, green tea polyphenols have been shown to reduce levels of oxidative stress in postmenopausal women. This effect was further improved by participation in Tai Chi exercises, which increase muscle strength.52 Subsequent studies demonstrated significant reductions in markers of bone loss in supplemented women as well, combined with increased muscle strength. This is a vital factor in preventing falls that can lead to fractures.53


The body is under constant chemical and physical attack, eventually yielding, at the cellular and molecular levels, to damage that hastens aging. DNA damage and oxidative stress, caused by the very air one breathes, are prominent age-accelerating processes.

Polyphenols extracted from green tea (Camellia sinensis) are versatile and powerful phytochemicals. Their twin protection against oxidative stress and DNA damage, coupled with their ability to induce protective gene expression, makes them of profound interest in the anti-aging community.

Recent studies have shown that supplementation with green tea extract and its active compound epigallocatechin-3-gallate can limit the underlying cell and tissue damage that contributes to metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease and stroke, neurodegenerative diseases, and even the bone loss that causes osteoporosis.

Green tea extracts, rich in epigallocatechin-3-gallate and other green tea components, offer a convenient and reliable means of attaining comprehensive, age-decelerating protection. High potency standardized tea extracts can be obtained for less than 25 cents a day, making  green tea one of the great bargains on the dietary supplement marketplace.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Health Advisor at 1-866-864-3027.


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  39. Assuncao M, Andrade JP. Protective action of green tea catechins in neuronal mitochondria during aging. Front Biosci (Landmark Ed). 2015;20:247-62.
  40. Cai J, Jing D, Shi M, et al. Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) attenuates infrasound-induced neuronal impairment by inhibiting microglia-mediated inflammation. J Nutr Biochem. 2014;25(7):716-25.
  41. Choi SM, Kim BC, Cho YH, et al. Effects of flavonoid compounds on beta-amyloid-peptide-induced neuronal death in cultured mouse cortical neurons.  Chonnam Med J. 2014;50(2):45-51.
  42. Bitu Pinto N, da Silva Alexandre B, Neves KR, et al. Neuroprotective properties of the standardized extract from Camellia sinensis (green tea) and its main bioactive components, epicatechin and epigallocatechin gallate, in the 6-OHDA model of Parkinson’s disease. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:161092.
  43. Caruana M, Vassallo N. Tea polyphenols in Parkinson’s disease. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2015;863:117-37.
  44. Schimidt HL, Vieira A, Altermann C, et al. Memory deficits and oxidative stress in cerebral ischemia-reperfusion: neuroprotective role of physical exercise and green tea supplementation. Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2014;114:242-50.
  45. Zhang F, Li N, Jiang L, et al. Neuroprotective effects of (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate against focal cerebral ischemia/reperfusion injury in rats through attenuation of inflammation. Neurochem Res. 2015;40(8):1691-8.
  46. Raposo D, Morgado C, Pereira-Terra P, et al. Nociceptive spinal cord neurons of laminae I-III exhibit oxidative stress damage during diabetic neuropathy which is prevented by early antioxidant treatment with epigallocatechin-gallate (EGCG). Brain Res Bull. 2015;110:68-75.
  47. Byun MR, Sung MK, Kim AR, et al. (-)-Epicatechin gallate (ECG) stimulates osteoblast differentiation via Runt-related transcription factor 2 (RUNX2) and transcriptional coactivator with PDZ-binding motif (TAZ)-mediated transcriptional activation. J Biol Chem. 2014;289(14):9926-35.
  48. Shen CL, Chyu MC, Yeh JK, et al. Green tea polyphenols and Tai Chi for bone health: designing a placebo-controlled randomized trial.  BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2009;10:110.
  49. Shen CL, Cao JJ, Dagda RY, et al. Supplementation with green tea polyphenols improves bone microstructure and quality in aged, orchidectomized rats.  Calcif Tissue Int. 2011;88(6):455-63.
  50. Song D, Gan M, Zou J, et al. Effect of (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate in preventing bone loss in ovariectomized rats and possible mechanisms.  Int J Clin Exp Med. 2014;7(11):4183-90.
  51. Tominari T, Matsumoto C, Watanabe K, et al. Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) suppresses lipopolysaccharide-induced inflammatory bone resorption, and protects against alveolar bone loss in mice. FEBS Open Bio. 2015;5:522-7.
  52. Qian G, Xue K, Tang L, et al. Mitigation of oxidative damage by green tea polyphenols and Tai Chi exercise in postmenopausal women with osteopenia.  PLoS One. 2012;7(10):e48090.
  53. Shen CL, Chyu MC, Yeh JK, et al. Effect of green tea and Tai Chi on bone health in postmenopausal osteopenic women: a 6-month randomized placebo-controlled trial. Osteoporos Int. 2012;23(5):1541-52.

Drinking green tea associated with lower risk of premature mortality

The January 2017 issue of the Journal of Epidemiology published an analysis of two ongoing prospective studies conducted in China which found an association between regular consumption of green tea and a lower risk of cardiovascular and all-cause mortality during a median follow-up period of 8.3 years for men and 14.2 years for women.

The current analysis included 51,920 men enrolled in the Shanghai Men’s Health Study, established in 2002 to 2006, and 64,034 participants in the Shanghai Women’s Health Study, established from 1997 to 2000. Subjects were between the ages of 40 and 70 years upon enrollment. Interviews conducted at the beginning of the study provided information concerning whether the subjects consumed tea regularly, at what age they started consuming the beverage, and type and amount of tea consumed each month.

During the follow-up periods examined, 2,741 deaths were documented among the men and 3,776 fatalities occurred among the women. Compared to subjects who were not green tea drinkers, there was a 5% lower adjusted risk of mortality from any cause over follow-up in association with drinking green tea regularly, and an 11% lower risk among green tea drinkers who never smoked. When deaths from cardiovascular disease were examined, the reduction in risk was 14% lower for regular consumers of green tea.

The results were most impressive in men who were nonsmokers. Among nonsmokers, men who were green tea drinkers experienced a 19% lower adjusted risk of dying over follow-up. This group also experienced an increased benefit from drinking a greater quantity of green tea, which was associated with a 20% lower risk of mortality from any cause compared to men who were not green tea consumers.

The authors, from Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine in China and Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in the U.S., remarked that green tea’s health-promoting effects have been attributed primarily to its polyphenols, which mainly consist of catechins. Catechin intake may favorably impact endothelial and overall vascular function by inhibiting oxidation and inflammation, and improving blood lipids. Experimental research findings indicate that green tea could have an antitumorigenic effect, and may help lower blood pressure and glucose.

“Consequently, green tea consumption could be related to longevity, given its protective effects in reducing risk factors of various chronic medical conditions, especially cardiovascular disease,” Long-Gang Zhao and colleagues conclude.

MCT Oil aids weight loss, increases energy and endurance

Interest in medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) has grown rapidly over the last few years.

This is partly due to the widely-publicized benefits of coconut oil, a rich source of them.

Many advocates boast that medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) can aid in weight loss.

In addition, MCT oil has become a popular supplement among athletes and bodybuilders.

Here is everything you need to know about MCTs, including what they are and what health benefits they may have.

What is MCT?

MCT stands for medium-chain triglycerides, which are fats found in foods like coconut oil. They are metabolized differently than the long-chain triglycerides (LCT) found in most other foods.

MCT oil is a supplement that contains a lot of these fats, and is claimed to have many health benefits.

Triglyceride is simply the technical term for fat. Triglycerides have two main purposes — they are transported into cells and burned for energy, or stored as body fat.

Triglycerides are named after their chemical structure, more specifically the length of their fatty acid chains. All triglycerides are made up of a glycerol molecule and 3 fatty acids.

The majority of fat in your diet is made up of long-chain fatty acids, which contain 13–21 carbons. Short-chain fatty acids have fewer than 6 carbon atoms.

In contrast, the medium-chain fatty acids in MCTs have 6–12 carbon atoms.

These are the main medium-chain fatty acids:

  • C6: Caproic acid or hexanoic acid.
  • C8: Caprylic acid or octanoic acid.
  • C10: Capric acid or decanoic acid.
  • C12: Lauric acid or dodecanoic acid.

Some experts argue that C6, C8 and C10, which are referred to as the “capra fatty acids,” reflect the definition of MCT more accurately than C12 (lauric acid) (1).

Bottom Line: Medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) are types of fatty acids containing 6–12 carbons. They include caproic acid (C6), caprylic acid (C8), capric acid (C10) and lauric acid (C12).

Medium-Chain Triglycerides are Metabolized Differently

Bottle of Coconut Oil and Half a Coconut

Because of the shorter chain length of the fatty acids, MCTs are rapidly broken down and absorbed into the body.

Unlike longer-chain fatty acids, MCTs go straight to the liver.

There they can be used as an instant energy source or turned into ketones, which are substances produced when the liver breaks down large amounts of fat.

Unlike regular fatty acids, ketones can cross from the blood to the brain. This provides an alternative energy source for the brain, which ordinarily uses glucose for fuel.

Because the calories contained in MCTs are more efficiently turned into energy and used by the body, they are less likely to be stored as fat.

Bottom Line: Due to their shorter chain length, medium-chain triglycerides are more rapidly broken down and absorbed into the body. This makes them a fast energy source and less likely to be stored as fat.

Sources of Medium-Chain Triglycerides

There are two main ways to increase the amount of MCT in your diet — through whole food sources or supplements such as MCT oil.

Whole Food Sources

A Coconut and Coconut Oil With a Blue Background

These foods are the richest in medium-chain triglycerides, shown as the percentage of fatty acids that are MCTs (2):

  • Coconut oil: Greater than 60%.
  • Palm kernel oil: Greater than 50%.
  • Dairy products: 10–12%.

Although the sources above are rich in MCTs, their compositions vary. For example, coconut oil contains all four types of MCTs, plus a small amount of LCTs.

However, its MCTs consist of greater amounts of lauric acid (C12) and smaller amounts of the “capra fatty acids” (C6, C8 and C10). In fact, coconut oil is about 50% lauric acid (C12), making it one of the best natural sources of this fatty acid.

Compared to coconut oil, dairy sources tend to have a higher proportion of capra fatty acids (C6, C8 and C10) and a lower proportion of lauric acid (C12).

In milk, capra fatty acids make up 4–12% of all fatty acids, and lauric acid (C12) makes up 2–5% (3).

Bottom Line: Whole food sources of MCTs include coconut oil, palm kernel oil and dairy products. However, their MCT composition varies.


MCT oil is a highly concentrated source of medium-chain triglycerides.

It is man-made, through a process called fractionation. This involves extracting and isolating the MCTs from coconut or palm kernel oil.

MCT oils generally contain either 100% caprylic acid (C8), 100% capric acid (C10) or a combination of the two.

Caproic acid (C6) is not normally included due to its unpleasant taste and smell. Lauric acid (C12) is often missing or present in only small amounts (4).

Given that lauric acid is the main component in coconut oil, be careful of manufacturers who market MCT oils as “liquid coconut oil,” which is misleading.

Many people debate whether lauric acid reduces or enhances the quality of MCT oils.

Many advocates market MCT oil as better than coconut oil because caprylic acid (C8) and capric acid (C10) are thought to be more rapidly absorbed and processed for energy than lauric acid (C12).

Since C13 is a long-chain fatty acid and lauric acid (C12) is quite similar in structure, some experts argue that it might act more like a long-chain fat, making it less valuable.

Although evidence supports that lauric acid is more rapidly absorbed in the body than LCTs, one study suggests that lengthening the carbon chain by 2 carbons can slow down the rate of diffusion by 100 times (567).

Therefore, compared to other medium-chain triglycerides, lauric acid may be a slightly less efficient way to obtain energy. However, it also has unique health benefits.

For example, lauric acid has even more anti-microbial properties than caprylic acid (C8) or capric acid (C10), meaning it can help kill harmful bacteria and viruses (89).

Bottom Line: MCT oil is an easy way to get large concentrations of certain MCTs. It usually contains C8, C10 or a combination of the two.

Which Should You Choose?

The source best for you depends on your goals and the amount of medium-chain triglycerides you want.

It is not clear what dose is needed to obtain potential benefits. In studies, doses range from 5–70 grams (0.17–2.5 oz) of MCT daily.

If your aim is to achieve overall good health, using coconut oil or palm kernel oil in cooking is probably sufficient.

However, for higher doses you might want to consider MCT oil.

One of the good things about MCT oil is that it has virtually no taste or smell. It can be consumed straight from the jar or alternatively mixed into food or drinks.

Another great thing about MCT oil is the price.  This 32 ounce bottle  at  Amazon is around $24.  That’s nearly 9,000 calories in the bottle, which is the calories most people consume in 4-5 days.  So per calorie, its less $ than McDonalds!

Bottom Line: Coconut and palm kernel oils are rich sources of medium-chain triglycerides, but MCT oil supplements contain much larger amounts.

MCT Oil May Help With Weight Loss in Several Ways

Woman Holding Measuring Tape Around Her Waist

There are several ways that MCTs may help with weight loss, including:

  • Lower Energy Density: MCTs provide around 10% fewer calories than LCTs, or 8.4 calories per gram for MCTs versus 9.2 calories per gram for LCTs (10).
  • Increase Fullness: One study found that compared to LCTs, MCTs resulted in greater increases in peptide YY and leptin, two hormones that help reduce appetite and increase feelings of fullness (11).
  • Fat Storage: Given that MCTs are absorbed and used more rapidly than LCTs, they are less likely to be stored as body fat (10).
  • Burn Calories: Studies in animals and humans show that MCTs (mainly C8 and C10) may increase the body’s ability to burn fat and calories (12131415161718).
  • Greater Fat Loss: One study found that an MCT-rich diet caused greater fat burning and fat loss than a diet higher in LCTs. However, these effects may disappear after 2–3 weeks once the body has adapted (18).
  • Low-carb Diets: Very low-carb or ketogenic diets are a effective ways to lose weight. Given that MCTs produce ketones, adding them to your diet can increase the number of carbs you can eat while staying in ketosis.

Bottom Line: MCTs may aid in weight loss through reduced calorie intake, increased fullness, less fat storage, improved calorie burning and increased ketones on low-carb diets.

Do MCTs Actually Cause Weight Loss?

Weight Scale

While many studies have found positive effects of MCTs on weight loss, other studies have found no effects (19).

In a review of 14 studies, 7 evaluated fullness, 8 measured weight loss and 6 assessed calorie-burning.

Only one study found increases in fullness, while 6 studies found reductions in weight and 4 found increased calorie burning (20).

In another review of 12 animal studies, 7 reported a decrease in weight gain and 5 found no differences. In terms of food intake, 4 detected a decrease, 1 detected an increase and 7 found no differences (21).

In addition, the amount of weight loss caused by MCTs is actually very modest.

A review of 13 studies found that on average the amount of weight lost on a diet high in MCTs was only 1.1 lbs (0.5 kg) over 3 weeks or more when compared to a diet high in LCTs (19).

Another study found that a diet rich in medium-chain triglycerides resulted in a 2-lb (0.9-kg) greater weight loss than a diet rich in LCTs over a 12 week period (22).

Further high-quality studies are needed to determine how effective MCTs are for weight loss and what amounts need to be taken to experience benefits.

Bottom Line: A diet high in medium-chain triglycerides may help with weight loss, although the effect is generally quite modest.

Evidence for MCTs Enhancing Exercise Performance is Weak

MCTs are thought to increase energy levels during high-intensity exercise and serve as an alternative energy source, sparing glycogen stores.

This may positively affect endurance and have benefits for athletes on low-carb diets.

One animal study found that mice fed a diet rich in medium-chain triglycerides did much better in swimming tests than mice fed a diet rich in LCTs (23).

Additionally, consuming food containing MCTs instead of LCTs for 2 weeks resulted in longer duration of high-intensity exercise among recreational athletes (24).

Although the evidence seems positive, there are not enough studies available to confirm this benefit, and the overall link is weak (25).

Bottom Line: The link between MCTs and improved exercise performance is weak and more studies are needed to confirm these claims.

Other Potential Health Benefits of MCT oil

A Jar of Coconut Oil and a Teaspoon

The use of medium-chain triglycerides and MCT oil has been associated with several other health benefits.


MCTs have been linked to lower cholesterol levels in both animal and human studies.

For example, calves consuming MCT-rich milk had lower cholesterol than calves fed LCT-rich milk (26).

Several studies in rats have linked coconut oil to improved cholesterol levels and higher antioxidant vitamin levels (2728).

A study in 40 women found that consuming coconut oil along with a low-calorie diet reduced LDL cholesterol and increased HDL cholesterol, compared to women consuming soybean oil (29).

Improvements in cholesterol and antioxidant levels may lead to a reduced risk of heart disease over the long term.

However, it is important to note that some older studies report that MCT supplements had no effects or even negative effects on cholesterol (3031).

One study in 14 healthy men reported that MCT supplements negatively affected cholesterol, increasing total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (31).

Bottom Line: Diets high in MCT-rich foods like coconut oil may have benefits for cholesterol levels. However, the evidence is mixed.


MCTs may also help lower blood sugar levels. In one study, diets rich in MCTs increased insulin sensitivity in adults with type 2 diabetes (32).

Another study in 40 overweight individuals with type 2 diabetes found that supplementing with MCTs improved diabetes risk factors. It reduced body weight, waist circumference and insulin resistance (33).

However, evidence for the use of medium-chain triglycerides in diabetes is limited. More research is needed to determine its full effects.

Bottom Line: MCTs may help lower blood sugar levels by reducing insulin resistance. However, more research is needed to confirm this benefit.

Brain Function

MCTs produce ketones, which act as an alternative energy source for the brain and can therefore improve brain function.

Recently there has been more interest in the use of MCTs to treat or prevent brain disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia (34).

One major study found that MCTs improved learning, memory and brain processing in people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. However, this was only effective in people containing a particular gene, the APOE4 gene (35).

Overall, the evidence is limited to short studies with small sample sizes, so more research is needed.

Bottom Line: MCTs may improve brain function in people with Alzheimer’s disease who have a particular genetic make-up. More research is needed.

Other Medical Conditions

Because MCTs are an easily absorbed and digested energy source, they’ve been used for years to treat malnutrition and disorders that hinder nutrient absorption.

Conditions that benefit from medium-chain triglyceride supplements include diarrhea, steatorrhea (fat indigestion) and liver disease. Patients undergoing bowel or stomach surgery may also benefit.

Evidence also supports the use of MCTs in ketogenic diets treating epilepsy (36).

The use of MCTs allows children suffering from seizures to eat larger portions and tolerate more calories and carbs than on classic ketogenic diets (37).

Bottom Line: MCTs are effective at treating a number of clinical conditions including malnutrition, malabsorption disorders and epilepsy.

Dosage, Safety and Side Effects

Oil on a Spoon

MCT oil appears to be safe for most people.

It is not clear what dose is needed to obtain potential health benefits, but many supplement labels suggest 1–3 tablespoons daily.

There are currently no reported adverse interactions with medications or other serious side effects.

However, some minor side effects have been reported and include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and an upset stomach.

These can be avoided by starting with small doses, such as 1 teaspoon, and increasing intake slowly. Once tolerated, MCT oil can be taken by the tablespoon.

Type 1 Diabetes and MCTs

Some sources discourage people with type 1 diabetes from taking medium-chain triglycerides due to the accompanying production of ketones.

It is thought that high levels of ketones in the blood may increase the risk of ketoacidosis, a very serious condition that can occur in type 1 diabetics.

However, the nutritional ketosis caused by a low-carb diet is completely different than diabetic ketoacidosis, a very serious condition caused by a lack of insulin.

In people with well-controlled diabetes and healthy blood sugar levels, the amount of ketones remain within a safe range even during ketosis.

There are limited studies available that explore the use of MCTs in type 1 diabetes. However, some have been conducted with no harmful effects (38).

Bottom Line: MCT oil is safe for most people, but there are no clear dosage guidelines. Start with small doses and gradually increase your intake.

Take Home Message

Medium-chain triglycerides have many potential health benefits including weight loss, lower cholesterol levels, improved insulin resistance, and improved endurance exercise.

For these reasons, adding MCT oil to your diet is highly recommended.








Boswellia Seratta (Frankincense) a powerful Cancer Fighter

Cancer touches all of us in some form or fashion, whether it’s a family member, friend, co-worker or even ourselves who get diagnosed with some type of cancer. And while there is no cure for cancer, what if I told you there was a substance that potentially could help us fight cancer? Enter boswellia.

Because it turns off reactions of the immune system that drive up inflammation and swelling, boswellia is a potential natural treatment for cancer and capable of helping to fight pain in addition to inflammation.† Boswellia serrata extract is so powerful that today it’s considered comparable to NSAID pain relievers (the leading type of chemical anti-inflammatory medications).

However, unlike over-the-counter or prescription medications that come along with all sorts of side effects, boswellia extract has been used safely and without complications for thousands of years. The chemical structure of boswellic acids closely resemble those of steroids — however their actions are different and do much more than mask symptoms. (1)

Sound too good to be true? Let’s take a look at how boswellia can help curb your pain, clear up respiratory or sinus infections fast, improve inflammatory bowel disease and even potentially protect you from cancer.†

What Is Boswellia?

Boswellia serrata is a tree native to Northern Africa and the Middle East that produces special compounds that have been found to have strong anti-inflammatory and anticancer effects.† (2)  In fact, long before inflammation-lowering medications and supplements existed, extracts derived from the boswellia tree — the same kind used to make frankincense oil — were used to treat all sorts of inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis, inflammatory bowel diseases and heart disease.

What makes certain plant extracts so beneficial for preserving health and fighting disease? A lot of it has to do with how different chemical compounds regulate the immune system, specifically how some inhibit certain pro-inflammatory cytokines and mediators that can damage DNA, feed tumor growth and destroy healthy cells.

Over the past several decades, research has given us a better understanding of how boswellia and frankincense oil benefit our health and boost the immune system. Boswellia seems to lower inflammation and support immune function on multiple levels, including (3):

  • interfering with cytokine production that raises inflammation (interferon gamma, interleukin-4 and tumor necrosis factor-alpha)
  • delaying reactions to sensitivities
  • helping regulate lymphocytes (white blood cells) and T-cells interactions
  • regulating production of immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies, which protect the body from bacterial and viral infections
  • regulating production of immunoglobulin M (igM) antibodies, which are found mainly in the blood and lymph fluid

Resins from the boswellia tree contain about 5 percent to 10 percent pure essential oils, which possess numerous protective compounds, including:

  • monoterpenes
  • diterpenes
  • triterpenes
  • tetracyclic triterpenic acids
  • four major pentacyclic and boswellic triterpenic acids, one of which is acetyl-11-keto-β-boswellic acid, considered the most potent inhibitor of 5-lipoxygenase, an enzyme responsible for inflammation (4)

What does all of this mean in simple terms? Boswellia helps lower inflammation and prevents autoimmune diseases.† Inflammation is the response of bodily tissues to any form of irritation, injuries, infections or disorders of the immune system. Whenever you feel pain, redness, swelling and sometimes loss of function, this is inflammation attempting to heal you.

Leukotrienes are small chemicals that contribute to inflammation by promoting free radical damages, autoimmune responses, cell adhesion and migration of the cells to any injured areas.

5 Benefits of Boswellia 

1. Lowers Inflammation

Among the valuable boswellia tree extracts that researchers have identified, several stand out as being most beneficial, including terpenes and boswellic acids, which are strongly anti-inflammatory and protective over healthy cells. Terpenes are strong-smelling chemicals found in certain plants, including some we associate with having antioxidant abilities, such as eucalyptus, basil, peppermint and citrus trees. (5)

Terpenes play a vital role in protecting the plants that contain them, since their strong aroma can fight off insect predators, defend plants from environmental stresses and act as building blocks for important chemical processes. In the human body, terpenes can do the same thing, lowering free radical damage and prolonging health.

Other chemical compounds have been identified in boswellia that naturally reduce the inflammatory response by controlling T-lymphocytes, especially one called AKBA (3-O-acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid). Although it works similarly to NSAID pain relievers, AKBA’s exact mechanisms of action are very different because they target different inflammatory enzymes. Because they’re better able to preserve the integrity of the stomach and gut lining, boswellia’s extracts cause less side effects and pose less risk for toxicity compared to NSAIDs. (6)

AKBA helps fight pain thanks in part to its ability to inhibit an enzyme called 5-LOX (5-lipoxygenase) and therefore shuts down mechanisms of leukotrienes, which are inflammatory mediators produced by the process of oxidation (specifically of arachidonic acid). AKBA has shown to be effective in helping to fight against a large number of inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis, bronchial asthma, chronic colitis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and cancer.†

Another active component of boswellia is called incensole acetate, which has similar powers over lowering inflammatory reactions, especially those that target the brain and speed up cognitive decline.† Studies show that incensole acetate is protective over neurons, helps fight the formation of tumors and has mood-enhancing benefits, making it a potential natural antidepressant and anti-anxiety compound.†

2. Reduces Joint and Arthritis Pain

A study published in the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database showed that boswellia extract can help reduce pain, swelling and trouble moving in people with arthritis or osteoarthritis (a common, chronic, progressive, skeletal, degenerative disorder, which commonly affects the knee joint) and other forms of inflamed joints. Some experienced a significant reduction in joint pain by up to 32 percent to 65 percent, which is comparable to prescription medications, showcasing boswellia’s ability as a potential natural arthritis treatment.† (7)

Another study published in the Journal of Phytotherapy and Phytopharmacology found that boswellia assisted in treating osteoarthritis symptoms such as knee pain, knee jerking and pain while walking significantly better than treatment with a placebo. Researchers concluded that the anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic and analgesic activities of boswellia make it a promising treatment for decreasing knee pain, increasing knee flexion and increasing walking distances in those prone to frequent swelling in the knee joints. (8)





























3. May Help Fight Cancer

Frankincense oil, which is formed by purifying the resin taken from the trunk of the boswellia tree, has been used for thousands of years medicinally, as well in religious and cultural ceremonies. Today, research tell us that frankincense essential oil is strongly tied to cancer prevention.† Frankincense is taken by many people around the world with no known side effects. It effectively helps target cancer cells while preserving healthy cells, which is why it’s used in conjunction with traditional cancer treatments by many holistic practitioners.†

Research shows a link between AKBA and protection against brain, breast, colon, pancreatic, prostate and stomach cancers.† The potential cancer-killing properties of boswellia extracts and frankincense oil are in part due to how they influence our genes to promote healing, plus how they curb serious side effects of cancer treatments. One of the most challenging and devastating things about battling cancer is suffering through the life-threatening and painful side effects that treatments like chemotherapy and radiation often cause, but boswellia shows promise for fighting these complications. (9)

For example, frankincense and boswellia extracts have been shown to fight joint pain, swelling in the brain, digestive complications and migraine headaches without destroying healthy cells that leave people vulnerable to infections. In addition to helping fight cancer, frankincense also supports the immune system in other ways by preventing infections, lowering inflammation, promoting hormonal balance, improving skin health and lowering anxiety (sometimes described as improving “spiritual awareness”).†

4. Speeds Up Healing From Infections

Boswellia is capable of lowering severity of infections of the respiratory or sinus tracts, which means you can experience relief from coughing, colds, the flu or a sore throatfaster. Research shows boswellia also helps prevent allergies and asthma, eliminates phlegm in the lungs and acts as an anti-inflammatory in the nasal passages, which makes it easier to breath.†

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, frankincense has been used as a natural remedy for improving blood circulation, speeding up healing time and in relieving pain from a variety of bacterial or viral infections, such as colds or the flu, leprosy or gonorrhea.† Studies also show that boswellia is a natural antiviral and can help treat strong and serious viruses, such as the flu or those caused by insect bites. (1011)

5. Helps Prevent Autoimmune Disease

One of the oldest uses of frankincense oil and boswellia is treating a variety of auotimmune ailments, especially common inflammatory diseases including asthma, arthritis and chronic bowel diseases. Boswellia interferes with autoimmune diseasedevelopment, since it seems to help control the production of immunoglobulins, or antibodies, which are made by the immune system to fight potential threats: bacteria, viruses, fungi and toxins.

The fact that boswellia has inhibitory actions that decrease production of leukotrienes has received high attention by researchers who study chronic inflammatory diseases that are rooted in increased leukotriene activity. As one study published in the International Journal of Phytotherapy and Phytopharmacology puts it, “At the end of the cascade of events in the cellular immune system, as far as it directs to various tissues of the body — i.e. autoimmune diseases — formation of oxygen radicals and proteases play an important destructive role … it’s not surprising that positive effects of boswellia in some chronic inflammatory diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, bronchial asthma, osteoarthritis, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease have been reported.” (12)

Your immune system constantly makes different types of antibodies to fight off various diseases (or “antigens“), but sometimes this process goes wrong and antibodies can actually be created that fight your very own bodily tissue, including healthy tissue that forms your organs. When this takes place, autoimmune disease occurs, which can affect nearly every system within the body.

Many studies have shown that boswellia helps treat inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) including ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and collagenous colitis.† IBS is a term for a group of intestinal disorders that cause prolonged inflammation of the digestive tract, especially the bowel lining that’s important for normal nutrient absorption and waste elimination. IBS can also affect other parts of the digestive system, including the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and small and large intestines. Research shows that leukotrienes play a large role in igniting inflammation that disrupts normal bowel function.

Boswellia may help patients enter remission from IBS since it reduces inflammation/swelling associated with bowel diseases, restores normal bowel cell structures, improves stool properties significantly and helps heal openings in the bowel wall.† One study published in the European Journal of Medical Research found that 350 milligrams of boswellia extract given three times daily for six weeks resulted in patients experiencing improvements in all parameters tested. A whopping 82 percent of IBD patients went into remission, which was even more than the percentage of patients who were using the standard prescription for IBD called sulfasalazine! (13)

Similarly, supplementation with boswellia has been shown to be effective for facilitating remission in patients with collagenous colitis, another type of IBD that causes abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, diarrhea and lots of discomfort.† In a study done by the Department of Medicine at Medical College Jammu in India, boswellic acids were found to inhibit the enzyme 5-lipoxygenase, which is a major contributor to the disease. Twenty patients were given boswellia serrata (900 milligrams daily divided in three doses for six weeks), and at the end of the trial, 18 out of 20 patients showed an improvement in one or more of the parameters tested while 14 out of 20 went into remission. (14)

Types Of Boswellia

While Boswellia serrata is the most popular type of boswellia used to treat various disorders and symptoms, it’s not the only type. There are at least three other popular forms of boswellia: boswellia carteri, boswellia frereana and boswellia sacra. Each comes from a different plant species, although all are closely related and medically used in similar ways.

Boswellia carteri contains high levels of incensole acetate and triterpene acids, two chemicals tied to tumor prevention and strong anticancer effects.† Boswellia carteri has been the subject of many studies investigating tumor cells and shows positive effects on stimulating the immune system and treating various forms of cancer, including bladder cancer. (15)

The four species of boswellia all produce frankincense resin, or extract, which comes in varying concentrations or “grades” depending on a few factors. Things like the time of year frankincense was harvested, how it was extracted and how pure it is all affect its quality. The soil and climatic conditions used to grow boswellia trees are mostly responsible for the different types of frankincense resins available on the market today. It’s believed that boswellia sacra trees are capable of growing in tough climates and in soil that is very rocky, which allows them to survive and live longer. (16)

Boswellia sacra trees begin to yield frankincense resin after they’re about 8–10 years old, at which point they give off the precious sap several times per year. The last tap of the year is said to be the best, producing the highest-quality oil, which is mostly concentrated with bioavailable terpenes, diterpenes and sesquiterpense.

Experts say that the color of frankincense resin is directly related to its quality. When resin is clearer, it’s considered higher quality. Frankincense CO2 is said to be an exceptional grade, which is usually grown in the wild in parts of Somalia. The CO2 process helps to capture a broader spectrum of the beneficial volatile oils and produces a “clear, rich, smooth, and outstanding aroma.” (17)

Boswellia vs. Turmeric: How the Two Compare

Both boswellia and turmeric (which contains the active ingredient curcumin) are botanicals that have been trusted by holistic practitioners for many, many years. They’re similar in many ways since both help treat various inflammatory conditions and have similar mechanisms of action, including modulation of cytokines, downregulation of NF-kB (a pro-inflammatory pathway) and the inhibition of cyclooxygenase enzymes.

Turmeric has constituents that have been found to exert antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-mutagenic activity, which means it helps combat many of the same illnesses that boswellia does.

Researchers believe that anti-inflammatory herbal agents might be even more protective when they’re used together, which makes curcumin and boswellia a great team. The strong synergy of multiple constituents seems to be more effective than using single purified compounds alone. (18)

Another benefit of turmeric and boswellia used together is that interactions of their co-occurring phytochemicals might help prevent toxicity that can occur when using only one of these herbs. It doesn’t seem dangerous to use both together, and you might see improvements in symptoms faster if you do — but remember that it’s still important to read directions and follow dosage instructions carefully even when using natural herbal products.


Boswellia vs. turmeric - Dr. Axe


How to Use Boswellia Seratta

You can take boswellia as a supplement or use frankincense essential oil. Frankincense oil has many uses ranging from healing your skin to speeding up recovery when you’re sick, making it one of the most popular essential oils used worldwide.

Use a few drops of pure frankincense essential oil placed under your tongue, on the roof of your mouth or mixed into tea to safely take it internally. You can also use frankincense essential oil by adding it to an oil burner or diffuser, which helps break up mucus, cleanse the nasal passages, and ease pain from respiratory or sinus conditions.

To use frankincense on your skin, mix it with a carrier oil like coconut oil or jojoba oiland do a patch test first to make sure you don’t react negatively before using it on larger areas of your skin. If you’re prone to sinus infections, allergies or asthma, then add a few drops to a cloth and inhale deeply several times per day.

If you rather take boswellia in supplement form, look for a high-quality powdered capsule that’s convenient and just as effective. Check for the species name Boswellia Seratta, and avoid brands that use artificial fillers and additives.

Look for standardized extracts that contain at least 37 percent boswellic acids, which might be labeled as boswellin. Higher percentages around 65 percent or more are even more pure and effective. When it comes to proper dosages, it depends on how concentrated the extract is and the level of boswellic acids present, so always start slowly and carefully follow the directions on the package.

The following dosages of boswellia are often recommended, although it depends on your specific goals and current health condition:

  • For lowering inflammation, take 600 to 900 milligrams of boswellia standardized (60 percent to 65 percent boswellic acid). This dosage might require taking several capsules daily.†
  • For treating inflammatory conditions like arthritis, osteroarthritis, asthma, chronic pain, inflammatory bowel disease or injuries, try a higher dose between 900–1,200 milligrams per day.† (19)

Are There Any Boswellia Side Effects?

Boswellia and frankincense seem to be well-tolerated by children, but if you’re pregnant, don’t plan on taking boswellia without speaking with a qualified health care practitioner first. If you’re currently taking NSAID medications, don’t take boswellia extract without guidance from your doctor.

Keep in mind that it might take several months for boswellia to have the most effects, so give it time to work best and reduce pain or swelling before stopping.

Boswellia Takeaways

  • Boswellia serrata extract is so powerful that today it’s considered comparable to NSAID pain relievers.
  • The five biggest benefits of boswellia include lowering inflammation, reducing joint and arthritis pain, helping fight cancer, speeding up healing from infections and potentially preventing autoimmune diseases.
  • Boswellia and turmeric are very similar in their benefits, and researchers believe that anti-inflammatory herbal agents might be even more protective when they’re used together.

†These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.