The Health Benefits of Ru Xiang

Boswellia carteri, Bird. [ru xiang 乳香; Pistacia lentiscus, L.; Gummi Olibanum; nyuko;
yuhyang; sheng ru xiang, xun lu xiang; Frankincense Carterii, mastic]


What is Boswellia carteri, ru xiang or Pistacia lentiscus? What does it contain?

Boswellia carteri is common in Mediterranean region. Traditionally, it has been used to treat pain
(related to blood clot) spastic muscle, gum bleeding, gum inflammation, rheumatoid arthritis, liver
cirrhosis, amenorrhea and certain injuries.

Romani A and co-workers from Università degli Studi, Italy, found : (i) gallic acid and galloyl
derivatives of both glucose and quinic acid; (ii) flavonol glycosides, i.e. myricetin and quercetin
glycosides; and (iii) anthocyanins, namely delphinidin 3-O-glucoside and cyaniding 3-O-glucoside
and trace amounts of catechin from the leaves of Pistacia lentiscus L. [5] Duru ME from Muğla
University, Turkey found alpha-Pinene, beta-pinene, limonene, terpinen-4-ol and alpha-terpineol as
the major components from the leaves and resin of Pistacia lentiscus. [7]

Are there any health benefits of Ru Xiang or Pistacia Lentiscus (with scientific support)?

Researchers noticed Pistacia lentiscus could reduce the gastric mucosal damage induced by
pyloric ligation, aspirin, phenylbutazone, reserpine and restraint + cold stress in rats. [1] While other
researchers demonstrated extracts of Pistacia lentiscus was against Helicobacter pylori, Sarcina
lutea, Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, some fungal cells and even mosquito Culex pipiens
molestus (Diptera: Culicidae). [2-4]

As discussed before, aqueous extracts of Pistacia lentiscus habe been alleged to be effective in the
treatment of jaundice in Jordanian folk medicine. Janakat S and Al-Merie H. from Jordan University
of Science and Technology found that aqueous extract of P. lentiscus showed marked
antihepatotoxic activity against carbon tetrachloride by reducing the activity of the three enzymes
(alkaline phosphatase (ALP), alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase
(AST)) and the level of bilirubin in an animal study. [6]

Baratto MC and co-workers, from Università degli Studi di Siena Italy, showed the antioxidant-
activities of galloyl quinic derivatives isolated from Pistacia lentiscus L. leaves. [8] Andrikopoulos
NK from Harokopio University, Greece,  found chiosmastic gum (CMG) (Pistacia lentiscus  var.
Chia resin) was effective in protecting human LDL from oxidation in a test-tube study. [9]

Researchers from Israel observed long-term administration of the extract from the dried leaves of
Pistacia lentiscus induced hepatic fibrosis and an inflammatory response, mild cholestasis and
depletion of reduced glutathione associated with an increase in its oxidized form in healthy rats. In
thioacetamide-treated rats, long-term administration of extract aggravated the inflammatory and
fibrotic and glutathione depleting responses without affecting the extent of lipid peroxidation. [10]
Besides its potential health benefits on liver, some test-tube studies also suggest its potential use in
support of patients suffered from cancers, such as colon cancer and leukemia [11-12]


[1] [1] Longo L, Platini F, Scardino A, Alabiso O, Vasapollo G, Tessitore L. Autophagy inhibition enhances anthocyanin-induced apoptosis in
hepatocellular carcinoma. Mol Cancer Ther. 2008 Aug;7(8):2476-85. [2] Iauk L, Ragusa S, Rapisarda A, Franco S, Nicolosi VM. In vitro
antimicrobial activity of Pistacia lentiscus L. extracts: preliminary report. J Chemother. 1996 Jun;8(3):207-9. [3] Marone P, Bono L, Leone E,
Bona S, Carretto E, Perversi L. Bactericidal activity of Pistacia lentiscus mastic gum against Helicobacter pylori. J Chemother. 2001 Dec;13(6):
611-4. [4] Traboulsi AF, Taoubi K, el-Haj S, Bessiere JM, Rammal S.Insecticidal properties of essential plant oils against the mosquito Culex
pipiens molestus (Diptera: Culicidae). Pest Manag Sci. 2002 May;58(5):491-5. Romani A, Pinelli P, Galardi C, Mulinacci N, Tattini M.
Identification and quantification of galloyl derivatives, flavonoid glycosides and anthocyanins in leaves of Pistacia lentiscus L. Phytochem Anal.
2002 Mar-Apr;13(2):79-86. [6] Janakat S, Al-Merie H. Evaluation of hepatoprotective effect of Pistacia lentiscus, Phillyrea latifolia and Nicotiana
glauca. J Ethnopharmacol. 2002 Nov;83(1-2):135-8.  [7] Duru ME, Cakir A, Kordali S, Zengin H, Harmandar M, Izumi S, Hirata T. Chemical
composition and antifungal properties of essential oils of three Pistacia species. Fitoterapia. 2003 Feb;74(1-2):170-6. 8] Baratto MC, Tattini M,
Galardi C, Pinelli P, Romani A, Visioli F, Basosi R, Pogni R. Antioxidant activity of galloyl quinic derivatives isolated from P. lentiscus leaves.
Free Radic Res. 2003 Apr;37(4):405-12.  [9] Andrikopoulos NK, Kaliora AC, Assimopoulou AN, Papapeorgiou VP.Biological activity of some
naturally occurring resins, gums and pigments against in vitro LDL oxidation. Phytother Res. 2003 May;17(5):501-7. [10] Ljubuncic P, Song H,
Cogan U, Azaizeh H, Bomzon A. The effects of aqueous extracts prepared from the leaves of Pistacia lentiscus in experimental liver disease.J
Ethnopharmacol. 2005 Aug 22;100(1-2):198-204. Epub 2005 Apr 22. Balan KV, Prince J, Han Z, Dimas K, Cladaras M, Wyche JH, Sitaras NM,
Pantazis P. Antiproliferative activity and induction of apoptosis in human colon cancer cells treated in vitro with constituents of a product derived
from Pistacia lentiscus L. var. chia. Phytomedicine. 2007 Apr;14(4):263-72. Epub 2006 May 18. [12] Loutrari H, Magkouta S, Pyriochou A, Koika
V, Kolisis FN, Papapetropoulos A,

Roussos C. Mastic oil from Pistacia lentiscus var. chia inhibits growth and survival of
human K562 leukemia cells and attenuates angiogenesis. Nutr Cancer. 2006;55(1):86-93.]