A study published in the Journal of Herbal Medicine reveals a natural way of mediating the complications and effects of multiple sclerosis. It says that Boswellia serrata, a plant from which Indian frankincense is derived, can perk up cognitive performance in people suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS). Multiple sclerosis is the disease, in which the immune system attacks the cells i.e. crucial for the production of the myelin sheath.
The messages from and to the brain are conducted via nerves. Nerves are made up of cells called neurons. Neurons have a protective coating which is what we call the “Myelin sheath.” This is a layer that coats and protects the nerve fiber or axon. Axon is a long, thin projection that carries electrical impulses from one end of the neuron to the other. The myelin sheath insulates the axon. It enhances its function and allows it to deliver messages between the brain and the different parts of the body efficiently.
In multiple sclerosis, when the myelin sheath is destroyed, nerves undergo “short circuit” and create problems delivering messages from or to the brain. Multiple sclerosis results in permanent nerve impairment and damage with time.
There is no permanent cure for the disease. We can only manage to relieve the symptoms and complications associated with it. The symptoms of the disease include severe nerve damage including tingling, numbness, pain, fatigue, partial or complete vision loss, dizziness, and loss of bladder control. In some cases, patients may also lose the capability to walk.
The researchers involved in the study say that B. serrata can potentially smother the symptoms and effects of multiple sclerosis. In particular, it can remedy the cognitive impairment that occurs in 40 to 65 percent of patients.
MS-related cognitive impairment includes problems with complex attention, slower speed of processing information, and episodic lapses in memory and executive functions. It is known to affect patients’ quality of life, personal relationships, and vocational potential.
To validate the fact that the respective plant can help people with multiple sclerosis, the researchers conducted a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study. They selected 60 patients with MS and divided them into two groups. One group was fed with 450 mg of B. serrata while the other was given placebo capsules, each twice a day.
The researchers conducted a series of “minimum assessment of cognitive function in multiple sclerosis (MACFIMS)” tests, at the beginning and after two months of the study. The researchers saw that the participants of the B. serrata group performed significantly better than the patients in the placebo group. The patients underwent brief visuospatial memory test (BVMT) and the California verbal learning test (CVLT). These two tests, respectively, accounted for,
- The ability of the patients to gather information using the sense of sight
- Their ability to learn and remember new words
Other tests, the patients went through, included tests that gauged auditory information processing speed and verbal fluency, as well as one used to detect cognitive damage. The differences in scores of the patients were minimal in these tests.
Thus the researchers concluded that B. serrata may be insufficient for certain effects of multiple sclerosis. However, it has significant benefits on the patient’s ability to learn words and use visual information.
B. serrata offers a number of health benefits. It is used as a treatment for a number of conditions like arthritis, viral infections, and cancer.
- Autoimmune disorders are often linked to causing arthritis. B. serrata has powerful anti-inflammatory properties that are believed to disrupt the autoimmune processes. Moreover, its analgesic effects relieve pain in the joints as well.
- B. serrata can potentially treat viral infections, including cold, the flu, and even gonorrhea.
- The essential oil derived from frankincense is also effective against cancer cells. Studies report that the respective oil reduces the risk of developing blood, prostate, and breast cancers.