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Article

A Placebo-Controlled, Pseudo-Randomized, Crossover Trial of Botanical Agents for Gulf War Illness: Curcumin (Curcuma longa), Boswellia (Boswellia serrata), and French Maritime Pine Bark (Pinus pinaster)

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Department of Psychology, Virginia Commonwealth University, White House, 806 West Franklin Street, Richmond, VA 23284, USA
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Department of Psychology, Vanderbilt University, PMB 407817, 2301 Vanderbilt Place, Nashville, TN 37240, USA
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School of Pharmacy, University of Auckland, 85 Park Road, Grafton, Auckland 1023, New Zealand
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UAB School of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 1670 University Blvd, Birmingham, AL 35223, USA
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Department of Psychology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, CH 233, 1300 University Blvd, Birmingham, AL 35233, USA
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Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, BMR2-208, 901 19th St. S, Birmingham, AL 35205, USA
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San Francisco Natural Medicine, 1615 20th Street, San Francisco, CA 94107, USA
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Beatrice A. Golomb
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(5), 2468; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18052468
Received: 31 December 2020 / Revised: 20 February 2021 / Accepted: 23 February 2021 / Published: 3 March 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gulf War Illness, A Drug and Environmentally-Triggered Condition)
This report is part of a larger study designed to rapidly and efficiently screen potential treatments for Gulf War Illness (GWI) by testing nine different botanicals. In this placebo-controlled, pseudo-randomized, crossover clinical trial of 20 men with GWI, we tested three botanical agents with putative peripheral and central anti-inflammatory actions: curcumin (Curcuma longa), boswellia (Boswellia serrata), and French maritime pine bark extract (Pinus pinaster). Participants completed 30 +/− 3 days of baseline symptom reports, followed by 30 +/− 3 days of placebo, 30 +/− 3 days of lower-dose botanical, and 30 +/− 3 days of higher-dose botanical. Participants then repeated the process with a new botanical until completing up to three botanical cycles. Data were analyzed using linear mixed models. Curcumin reduced GWI symptom severity significantly more than placebo at both the lower (p < 0.0001) and higher (p = 0.0003) dosages. Boswellia was not more effective than placebo at reducing GWI symptoms at either the lower (p = 0.726) or higher (p = 0.869) dosages. Maritime pine was not more effective than placebo at the lower dosage (p = 0.954) but was more effective than placebo at the higher dosage (p = 0.006). This study provides preliminary evidence that curcumin and maritime pine may help alleviate symptoms of GWI. As a screening study, a final determination of the efficacy of these compounds for all individuals with GWI cannot be made, and further studies will need to be conducted to determine strength and durability of effects, as well as optimal dosage. These results suggest that GWI may, at least in part, involve systemic inflammatory processes. This trial was registered on ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT02909686) on 13 September 2016. View Full-Text
Keywords: boswellia; curcumin; maritime pine boswellia; curcumin; maritime pine
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MDPI and ACS Style

Donovan, E.K.; Kekes-Szabo, S.; Lin, J.C.; Massey, R.L.; Cobb, J.D.; Hodgin, K.S.; Ness, T.J.; Hangee-Bauer, C.; Younger, J.W. A Placebo-Controlled, Pseudo-Randomized, Crossover Trial of Botanical Agents for Gulf War Illness: Curcumin (Curcuma longa), Boswellia (Boswellia serrata), and French Maritime Pine Bark (Pinus pinaster). Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 2468. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18052468

AMA Style

Donovan EK, Kekes-Szabo S, Lin JC, Massey RL, Cobb JD, Hodgin KS, Ness TJ, Hangee-Bauer C, Younger JW. A Placebo-Controlled, Pseudo-Randomized, Crossover Trial of Botanical Agents for Gulf War Illness: Curcumin (Curcuma longa), Boswellia (Boswellia serrata), and French Maritime Pine Bark (Pinus pinaster). International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021; 18(5):2468. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18052468

Chicago/Turabian Style

Donovan, Emily K., Sophia Kekes-Szabo, Joanne C. Lin, Rebecca L. Massey, James D. Cobb, Kathleen S. Hodgin, Timothy J. Ness, Carl Hangee-Bauer, and Jarred W. Younger. 2021. "A Placebo-Controlled, Pseudo-Randomized, Crossover Trial of Botanical Agents for Gulf War Illness: Curcumin (Curcuma longa), Boswellia (Boswellia serrata), and French Maritime Pine Bark (Pinus pinaster)" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18, no. 5: 2468. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18052468

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