Evaluation of the anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of individual and combined extracts from Commiphora myrrha, and Boswellia carterii

J Ethnopharmacol. 2012 Jan 31;139(2):649-56. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2011.12.013. Epub 2011 Dec 13.


Aim of the study: The Chinese herbs of myrrh and frankincense are often combined for treating some inflammatory pain diseases with synergistic therapeutic effects. In this study, we investigated the effects of individual herbal extracts and combined extract on anti-inflammatory and analgesic activities in vivo and analyzed the potential bioactive components from the combination extract by ultra-performance liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrum (UPLC-MS/MS).

Materials and methods: The anti-inflammatory activities were investigated by utilizing the paw edema mice induced by formalin and carrageenan. In addition, we determined the levels of PGE(2) and nitrite in the edema paw. The analgesic activity was examined against oxytocin-induced dysmenorrhea in mice. The effects of the administration of dolantin or indomethacin were also studied for references. The components in combination extract (CWE) were analyzed by UPLC-MS/MS.

Results: The results showed that myrrh water extract (MWE) and the combined extract (CWE) at the 3.9 g/kg, and 5.2 g/kg showed inhibition of formalin-induced paw edema with inhibition rate of 30.44%, and 23.50%, respectively. The PGE(2) production was inhibited significantly by all samples (P<0.01 or P<0.05). CWE showed stronger suppression on carrageenan-induced mice paw edema at 2 and 3h after administration of drugs. The inhibitory effect of CWE on nitrite production was between that of MWE and water extract of frankincense (FWE) at 5.2 g/kg. The dysmenorrhea mice test showed MWE could remarkably reduce the writhing times (P<0.05) and prolong the latency period, while FWE showed no obvious effects on the writhing times. CWE significantly reduced the writhing times and prolong the latency period (P<0.01).

Conclusion: These results demonstrated MWE, FWE, and CWE exhibited significant anti-inflammatory and analgesic activities. The findings suggest that CWE may be therapeutically more useful for mitigating inflammatory pain than individual herbal extract. In addition, 12 potential active compounds were identified from CWE. These data may support the fact the traditional application of this combined extract in treating various diseases associated with inflammatory pain.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics / chemistry
  • Analgesics / isolation & purification
  • Analgesics / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / isolation & purification
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology*
  • Boswellia* / chemistry
  • Carrageenan
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Commiphora* / chemistry
  • Dinoprostone / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Drug Combinations
  • Dysmenorrhea / chemically induced
  • Dysmenorrhea / physiopathology
  • Dysmenorrhea / prevention & control*
  • Edema / chemically induced
  • Edema / metabolism
  • Edema / pathology
  • Edema / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Formaldehyde
  • Indomethacin / pharmacology
  • Meperidine / pharmacology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • Molecular Structure
  • Motor Activity / drug effects
  • Nitrites / metabolism
  • Oxytocin
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain Threshold / drug effects
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / isolation & purification
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plants, Medicinal
  • Reaction Time / drug effects
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry
  • Time Factors


  • Analgesics
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Drug Combinations
  • Nitrites
  • Plant Extracts
  • Formaldehyde
  • Oxytocin
  • Carrageenan
  • Meperidine
  • Dinoprostone
  • Indomethacin