Clinical Research

There were hundreds of researches and studies done in the last 3 decades relating to the beneficial properties of the naturally occurring triterpene compounds.  

Although there are more than 4,000 triterpene compounds identified, only a few have been isolated and proven to possess therapeutic properties.  Thanks to nature, the shea nuts contain one of the highest amount of beneficial triterpene compounds among the botanical world.  The major constituents of shea triterpenes are:  lupeol, α-amyrin, β-amyrin, and butyrospermol.  Studies have shown their abilities to inhibit inflammation, reduce pain, and suppress cancer.

TitleApplicable TreatmentDateAuthorInstitutionJournal / PublisherSummaryReport
Efficacy and Safety of Shea Nut Oil in Hemophilic ArthropathyJoint inflammation, ArthropathyOn-going clinical trialTsung-Ying LiTri-Service General Hospital, TaiwanN/AThe trial is scheduled to start in January 2016 with an estimated primary completion in June 2017. The research will be conducted to verify the efficacy of high-triterpene shea nut oil extract, in treating hemophilia patients with joint bleeding. The experiment is to be compared with a control group receiving a placebo comprised of canola/soybean oil. During the course of the study, indications of joint health will be observed and measured, including: pain intensity, type-II collagen degradation, inflammation marker (TNF-α), synovial thickness, etc. N/A
Effects of Topical and Dietary Use of Shea Butter on AnimalsAnti-Inflammation, Skin Care, Cholesterol Control, Anti-Allergy2014Malachi Oluwaseyi IsraelEkiti State University, NigeriaAmerican Journal of Life Sciences, Science Publishing GroupShea butter is the fat extracted from the nut of Africa Shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa). It is edible and used as cooking fat in Africa. The unsaponifiable fraction of Shea butter is composed of bioactive substances that are responsible for Shea butter's medicinal properties. There are many beneficial functions from topical and dietary use. Click To Show MoreClick To View
Validating Efficacy of Shea Nut Oil Extract in Knee Osteoarthritis PatientsOsteoarthritis2013San-Pei Chan et al.China Medical University Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Hindawi Publishing Corp.The findings have proven the efficacy of shea nut extract as another option to improve the symptoms and function in relation to knee OA. After sufficient dosage, its effects include decreased inflammation, increased collagen, reduction of pain, and better muscle function. See ChartClick To View
Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Shea Butter
through Inhibition of Inos, Cox-2, and
Cytokines via the Nf-Kb Pathway in Lps-
Activated J774 Macrophage Cells
Anti-Inflammation2012Nandini Verma et al.CSIR-Institute of Genomics & Integrative Biology, IndiaJournal of Complementary and Integrative MedicineThe study involves using the murine J774 macrophage cells (a type of white blood cell that patrols for potential pathogens) as the test subject. The macrophage cells are part of body's immune responses and development of inflammation by producing pro-inflammatory enzymes and cytokines. In the experiment, the cells were exposed to bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) to induce the inflammations process. When the macrophage cells were treated with Shea Butter Extract, the result shows that pro-inflammatory enzymes (iNOS, Cox-2) and cytokines (TNF-α, IL-1β, IL-12) were significantly reduced. See Chart_1 Chart_2Click To View
Antinociceptive Effect of Lupeol: Evidence for a Role of Cytokines InhibitionAnti-Inflammation,
Pain Relief
2012Flávia Oliveira deLima et al.Gonçalo Moniz Research Center, BrazilPhytotherapy Research, John Wiley & SonThere is evidence showing that triterpene lupeol has the ability to inhibit cytokines. Using mice with induced inflammation pain in the paw, the study results demonstrate that lupeol has consistent antinociceptive properties during inflammatory pain, through the inhibition of IL-1β and TNF-α production. See Chart
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Anti-Inflammatory and Chemopreventive Effects of Triterpene Cinnamates and Acetates from Shea FatAnti-Inflammation, Anti-Cancer, Chemopreventive2010Toshihiro Akihisa et al.Nihon University, JapanJournal of Oleo Science, Japan Oil Chemists' SocietyFour triterpenes were isolated from the extract of shea kernel and evaluated with respect to their anti-inflammatory activity against inflammation in mice. Their inhibitory effects were compared with an anti-inflammatory drug called indomethacin, an NSAID which is commonly prescribed to reduce fever, pain, stiffness, and swelling. The result showed all of the triterpene esters were more inhibitory than indomethacin. See ChartClick To View
Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trial on the Potential Modes of Action of SheaFlex70 in OsteoarthritisOsteoarthritis2009Cheras, Myers, Paul-Brent, Outerbridge, & NielsenSouthern Cross University, AustraliaPhytotherapy Research, Wiley InterScienceA placebo-controlled study that examined patients with osteoarthritis of the knees and/or hips to determine the benefit actions of SheaFlex70, a triterpene-rich material extracted from Shea plant. The group that took the SheaFlex70 had significant decreases in inflammation and cartilage breakdown versus the placebo group. The findings showed that the measures on the study indicators (Inflammation, Cartilage degradation, Bone Formation) have improved much more significantly for the treatment group during the trial period of 15 weeks. See Chart Click To View
Biological Activities of LupeolAnti-Inflammation, Anti-Cancer, Chemopreventive2009Gallo & Sarachine University of Pittsburgh, USAInternational Journal of Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Global Science BooksThe study compiles the research done over the last 25 years on the biological activies of lupeol, a significant component of the triterpene compound found in plants, fungi, and animals. The research has shown lupeol possessing the properties of anticancer, antiprotozoal, chemopreventive, and anti-inflammatory.Click To View
Lupeol, A Novel Anti-inflammatory and Anti-cancer Dietary TriterpeneAnti-Inflammation, Anti-Cancer2009Mohammad SaleemUniversity of Wisconsin, USANational Center for Biotechnology InformationThere has been great rise of interest in triterpenes during the last decade. Most of this interest has focused on the cholesterol-lowering, inflammatory suppressing, and anti-tumor properties of triterpenes. There were at least 25 clinical studies and at least 10 major commercially triterpene-based products currently being sold all around the world. It is estimated that well over 2400 subjects have taken part in clinical studies with different types of triterpenes with dosage up to 25 g or more per day with no adverse effect reported.Click To View
Antinociceptive Properties of Mixture of α-Amyrin and β-Amyrin TriterpenesPain Relief2005Otuki et al.Universidade Federalde Santa Catarina, BrazilThe Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeautics, The American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental TherapeuticsThe mixture of the two pentacyclic triterpenes α-amyrin and β-amyrin have brought significant antinociception against the visceral pain and inflammatory pain. The test subjects were mice injected with acetic acid and formalin to induce abdominal constrictions and pain in the right hindpaws respectively. The mixture of various dosages of α-amyrin and β-amyrin triterpenes were given to the mice intraperitoneally and orally. The test was carried out along with a control group without receiving the triterpene treatment. The amount of time that the mice spent licking the injected paw timed with a chronometer was considered indicative of nociception. See Chart_1

Two other tests also carried out to examine nociception caused by pain-producing chemicals such as cytokines as a result of inflammatory response. The test subjects were mice injected in the right hindpaw with TPA and 8-Br-cAMP (substances to induce the release of cytokines). The animals were then treated with the triterpene mixtures. The amount of time that the mice spent licking the injected paw timed with a chronometer was considered indicative of nociception. See Chart_2

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Antiinflammatory and Antiarthritic Activities of Lupeol and 19α-H LupeolAnti-Inflammation, Osteoarthritis2003Agarwal & RangariBharti Vidya Peeth University Poona College Of Pharmacy, IndiaIndian Journal of PharmacologyThe anti-inflammatory activity of lupeol (a triterpene compound) was evaluated using rats with induced edema, granuloma, and arthritis. Prednisolone (a steroid drug used to treat inflammatory conditions) was used as a standard drug along with a controlled group for comparison. The lupeol in the doses of 800 mg/kg produced an inhibition 72% after 24 h in acute inflammation (represented by edema). In chronic inflammation, as represented by granuloma, lupeol exhibited 33% reduction in granuloma weight. In the arthritis model, lupeol exhibited 29% inhibition after 21 days of treatment. See Charts
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Antiarthritic Mechanisms of Lupeol Triterpenes Osteoarthritis, Anti-Inflammation1995Kweifo-Okai, De Munk, Macrides, Smith & RumbleRMIT University, AustraliaDrug Development Research, WileyThe effectiveness of the triterpenes in the models of inflammatory and arthritic processes employed here corresponded with their relative antiarthritic effectiveness in adjuvant arthritic rats. Not Available
Antiarthritic Mechanisms of Amyrin TriterpenesOsteoarthritis, Anti-Inflammation1994Kweifo-Okai, De Munk, Macrides, Smith & RumbleRMIT University, AustraliaResearch communications in molecular pathology and pharmacologyThe results indicate that the principal point of antiarthritic intervention by amyrin triterpenes lies in their local inhibition of joint destruction.

Not Available
Fat High in Stearic Acid Favorably Affects Blood Lipids and
Factor VII Coagulant Activity in Comparison with Fats High in
Palmitic Acid or High in Myristic and Lauric Acids
Cholesterol Control1994Tine Tholstrup et al.Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, DenmarkThe American Journal of Clinical NutritionIntake of shea butter high in steanic acid favorably affects blood lipids and factor VII coagulant activity in young men. Three experimental diets: shea butter (42% steamic acid), palm oil (43% palmitic acid), and palm-kernel oil with high-oleic sunflower oil (10% mymistic acid, 30% launic acid) were served to a group of healthy young men for 3-week period each. The shea butter diet compared with palm oil diet resulted in significant reduction in plasma cholesterol (22%) LDL cholesterol (26%), apolipoprotein B (18%), HDL cholesterol (12%), apolipoprotein A-I (13%), and a 13% lower factor VII coagulant activity with high statistical significance. Similar differences were observed between shea butter diet and palm kernal sunflower oil diet. Click To Show MoreClick To View