Betulinic acid is a phytochemical that belongs to a group of Terpenes compounds found abundantly in the bark of white birch (Betula pubescens); it is a fast-growing tree commonly grown in various parts of North America and Europe. Interestingly, Betulinic acid is also contained in large quantities in the Chaga mushroom, a medicinal mushroom that is parasitic to the birch tree. For centuries, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Asian culture have used Chaga Mushroom for general health and as a remedy for the severe health conditions where it was regarded as the Mushroom of Immortality’. Betulinic acid can also be produced from betulin in a synthetic process with a yield of about 71%. Numerous studies have confirmed Betulinic acid as a potent anti-cancer and anti-tumor agent, which is used to prevent various types of cancer. Besides, it contains incredible anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, anti-microbial, and anti-retroviral properties, which contribute to its incredible health and medicinal benefits.
Betulinic Acid Benefits
Betulinic acid has potent Anti-cancer benefits; according to a study in Anticancer Drugs, Betulinic acid induces antitumor activity by promoting a defective apoptosis, a process that result in a programmed cell death. Essentially, it initiates a selective cytotoxicity against tumor cells and other dysfunctional and cancerous cells while maintaining the integrity and minimal damage to the surrounding tissues. Thus, it helps to reduce and prevent the different types of cancer including colorectal cancer and ovarian cancer. It also inhibits the induced cancer proliferation and suppresses the unregulated clonal multiplication of cells by mutation, which eventually prevents the outgrow of cancerous cells and formation of tumors.
Betulinic acid contains Anti-inflammatory effects; in a rat-based study documented in the European Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, betulinic acid (BA) inhibits cellular oedema formation, a condition induced by a lipopolysaccharide (LPS) bacterial endotoxin that result to increased vascular permeability and blood flow in the lungs, leading to acute lung inflammation; thus, the anti-inflammatory effect of betulinic acid (BA) significantly attenuate all these alterations and protect the lung against the actions of LPS.
Betulinic acid contains potent Anti-fibrotic effect; according to a publication in Chemico-Biological Interactions, betulinic acid enhances a potential mechanism of action against hepatic fibrosis. Essentially BA effectively inhibits the activation of hepatic stellate cell (HSC), the main cell type responsible for the development of fibrosis cell. Hepatic fibrosis is an initial stage in the development of liver cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Betulinic acid has Anti-microbial effects; studies in Fitoterapia have shown that, Betulinic acid contains cytotoxicity effect that prevents the microbial activity of various strains of bacteria such as Enterobacter aerogenes, Enterococcus faecalis, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus and antifungal activity against certain fungal strains including Candida albicans.
Betulinic acid promotes anti-HIV activity; a Journal of Medical Chemistry has shown that Betulinic acid has potent anti-HIV agents that disrupt the viral fusion to the somatic cells and prevent the cellular division and budding of the HIV-1 virus. These processes inhibit the growth, maturation, and deleterious effects of the virus. Though the mechanism of action has not been fully determined, the research has intensified the discovery of highly active derivatives in Betulinic acid that exhibits greater potential and better therapeutic effect than some current medical anti-HIV agents.
Betulinic acid supports immunomodulatory effect; a research in Phytotherapy shows that betulinic acid enhances cellular immunity and activity of macrophages. Essentially, they modify the immune system by promoting immunopotentiation and immunosuppression mechanisms; thus, it helps to improve an inactive immune system that prevent infections in states of immunodeficiency and reduce an over stimulated immune system to normalize the defense mechanism in the body. Besides, it boosts the production of disease-preventing T-cells responsible for immune control.
Betulinic acid Side effects and safety
According to Rapid Access to Intervention Development (RAID) program of the U.S. National Institute of Health, Betulinic acid has a very promising therapeutic property as an agent for the treatment of HIV infections and cancer. Notably, several studies aimed at determining the health effect and reactions of betulinic acid in humans have been initiated. Apparently, there is no clinical research that has been documented on the effectiveness of betulinic acid in humans; additionally, no ideal dosage, side effects or drug interactions has been recorded either. However, the dietary supplement manufacturers are promoting betulinic acid capsules, tablets, and tinctures but fail to mention the ideal dosage needed to achieve various therapeutic effects. Based on laboratory conditions where oral doses of 250 - 500 mg/ kg of bodyweight were used, an adult human should consume 500 mg daily. Therefore, intensive research and medical testing is needed to investigate the dosage and the effect of betulinic acid and whether it is completely safe for humans. Ideally, betulinic acid may be obtained naturally from Chaga mushroom; you may opt to Drink tea made of Chaga mushrooms, take Chaga mushroom powder, or consume Chaga mushrooms in liquid or drops. Another alternative is to take xylitol, a sugary supplement made of the birch tree.
- Molecules: alpha-Mangostin enhances betulinic acid cytotoxicity and inhibits cisplatin cytotoxicity on HCT 116 colorectal carcinoma cells.
- Anticancer Drugs: Betulinic acid, a natural compound with potent anticancer effects.
- European Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences: Effect of betulinic acid on neutrophil recruitment and inflammatory mediator expression in lipopolysaccharide-induced lung inflammation in rats.
- Biochemical Journal: JNK- and Akt-mediated Puma expression in the apoptosis of cisplatin-resistant ovarian cancer cells.
- Chemico-Biological Interactions: The anti-fibrotic effect of betulinic acid is mediated through the inhibition of NF-κB nuclear protein translocation.
- Journal in Medical Chemistry: Anti-AIDS agents 81. Design, synthesis, and structure-activity relationship study of betulinic acid and moronic acid derivatives as potent HIV maturation inhibitors.
- Phytotherapy Research: Triterpene acids from rose hip powder inhibit self-antigen- and LPS-induced cytokine production and CD4? T-cell proliferation in human mononuclear cell cultures.
- Fitoterapia: A new biphenyl and antimicrobial activity of extracts and compounds from Clusia burlemarxii.