Pharmacokinetic assessment of constituents of Boswellia serrata, pine bark extracts, curcumin in combination including methylsulfonylmethane in healthy volunteers

J Pharm Pharmacol. 2020 Jan;72(1):121-131. doi: 10.1111/jphp.13184. Epub 2019 Oct 13.


Objectives: Dietary supplements are increasingly used by people with osteoarthritis. Boswellia serrata extract, curcumin, pine bark extract and methylsulfonylmethane have been identified as having the largest effects for symptomatic relief in a systematic review. It is important to understand whether any pharmacokinetic interactions are among the major constituents of these supplements so as to provide information when considering the combination use of these supplements. The aim of this study was to investigate the pharmacokinetics of the constituents alone and in combination.

Methods: This study was a randomized, open-label, single-dose, four-treatment, four-period, crossover study with 1-week washout. The pharmacokinetics of the constituents of these supplements when dosed in combination with methylsulfonylmethane were compared to being administered alone. Plasma samples were obtained over 24 h from 16 healthy participants. Eight major constituents were analysed using a validated ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry assay.

Key findings: The pharmacokinetics of each constituent was characterized, and there were no significant differences in the pharmacokinetic profiles of the constituents when administered as a combination, relative to the constituents when administered alone (P > 0.05).

Conclusions: These data suggest that interactions between the major constituents of this supplement combination are unlikely and therefore could be investigated to manage patients with osteoarthritis without significant concerns for possible pharmacokinetic interactions.

Keywords: Boswellia serrata extract; curcumin; interaction; pharmacokinetics; pine bark extract.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Boswellia* / chemistry
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Curcumin / administration & dosage
  • Curcumin / pharmacokinetics*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Dimethyl Sulfoxide / administration & dosage
  • Dimethyl Sulfoxide / blood
  • Dimethyl Sulfoxide / pharmacokinetics*
  • Drug Combinations
  • Female
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Male
  • New South Wales
  • Pinus* / chemistry
  • Plant Bark* / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage
  • Plant Extracts / blood
  • Plant Extracts / isolation & purification
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacokinetics*
  • Sulfones / administration & dosage
  • Sulfones / blood
  • Sulfones / pharmacokinetics*
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry
  • Young Adult


  • Drug Combinations
  • Plant Extracts
  • Sulfones
  • dimethyl sulfone
  • Curcumin
  • Dimethyl Sulfoxide