The Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Agarwood

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Ibiza chic resinous wood from an infected Aquilaria tree (Aquilara malaccensis or Aquilaria agallocha) which is known as oud is renowned for its intoxicating aroma and has earned it the name “liquid gold.” It’s been used in perfumery, incense, and as an ingredient in traditional medicines. In Vietnam, people burn it to mark occasions and to welcome guests. It has also been woven into musical instruments and used to make traditional clogs. Several studies have demonstrated that agarwood oil has anti-inflammatory properties. In one study, rats with intestinal injury induced by 5-flurouracil intraperitoneal injections that mimics chemotherapies for colon cancer were given agarwood oil and showed decreased diarrhea, reduced food intake, and low weight gain. Additionally, the agarwood oil reduced the inflammation of the intestinal mucosa by decreasing the expression of proinflammatory factors such as COX-2 and TNF-.

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Another study that looked at the effect of agarwood on rheumatoid arthritis found that it prevented the damage caused by heat-induced protein denaturation by inhibiting the activation of NF-kappaB in the cells. Besides this, it showed anti-inflammatory activity by inhibiting the production of proinflammatory cytokines such as IL-1b and IL-6 and decreasing the release of inflammatory mediators such as NO and PGE.

These findings indicate that agarwood could be useful in the treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases. In order to increase the amount of agarwood and prevent its extinction, scientists have been trying to find ways of harvesting it more sustainably. One method involves wounding the Aquilaria trees and using chemical inducers to speed up the formation of agarwood. Some of these chemicals include sulfuric acid, acetic acid, and jasmonic acid.