Overview of SEFO (Self-Emulsifying Formulated Oil) products

Boswellia serrata

Indian Frankincense

Boswellia serrata (also known as Indian Frankincense) is a plant that grows in the mountainous regions of India, North Africa and the Middle East. Boswellia serrata gum-resin extracts have been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for centuries due to its anti-inflammatory properties (1). In the last decades, gum resin preparations of Boswellia serrata have received more and more attention in Western countries. In fact, recent studies have highlighted the potential of Boswellia serrata-based extracts in the treatment of inflammatory disorders such as chronic intestinal inflammatory diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and asthma (2). In addition, Boswellia serrata extracts exhibit better tolerability than nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (3). However, pharmacokinetic studies revealed the poor bioavailability of boswellic acids, the compounds associated with anti-inflammatory action (4).

Sferalp developed a water-soluble formulation containing Boswellia serrata extract which, thanks to its specific composition, allows the formation of a stable and homogeneous emulsion in water or gastric juices. The reduced particle size of the emulsion greatly improves the bioavailability of the extract. The formulation is available as a self-emulsifying formulated oil (SEFO) or as a self-emulsifying powder (SEP or SEP-F).

Available products

Boswellia serrata SEFO (PN07)

In development products 

Boswellia serrata Sundalp (PN19) 

Boswellia serrata Dissolida® SEP (PN12) 

Boswellia serrata Dissolida® SEP-F (PN14) 

Boswellia serrata plant

Curcuma longa


Turmeric is an Indian spice derived from the rhizomes of the plant Curcuma longa grown in India and other parts of Southeast Asia (5). Turmeric is composed of natural polyphenols called curcuminoids of which curcumin is the main component (6). Curcuma longa has been used traditionally in Asian countries for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory (7), antibiotic (8), and anticancer properties (9). Curcumin has been shown to benefit inflammatory conditions (10), metabolic syndrome (11), pain (12), and also aids in the management of eye inflammatory conditions (13). One of the major issues associated to curcumin intake is its poor bioavailability, mainly due to limited absorption and rapid metabolism (14).

Sferalp created a formulation based on Curcuma longa extract that forms a micellar system. Thanks to this system the curcuminoids are solubilized in water increasing their bioavailability. This formulation is available as a self-emulsifying formulated oil (SEFO) or as a self-emulsifying powder (SEP or SEP-F).

Available products

Curcumin SEFO (PN08)

In development products

Curcumin Dissolida® SEP (PN13)

Curcumin Dissolida® SEP-F (PN15)


So far more than 200 components (15) have been identified in turmeric, which include curcuminoids and other biologically active compounds including turmerones, elemenes, furanodienes. Curcuminoids possess a number of biological activities such as anti-inflammatory, antiulcer, antiviral, antibacterial and antioxidant. Recently, non-curcuminoids such as turmerones have also been extensively studied for their pharmacological activities, including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anticancer (16). Therefore, by taking food supplements containing isolated curcumin, the benefits derived from non-curcuminoids are overlooked.

For this reason, Sferalp came up with a formulation containing the integral extract of Curcuma longa that preserves many original components present in the rhizome of the plant. This formulation in water forms a micellar system in which the active components of turmeric are solubilized increasing their bioavailability. This formulation is available as a self-emulsifying formulated oil.

In development products

Turmeric SEFO (PN10)

Turmeric Sundalp (PN21)

Curcuma longa flower

Nigella sativa

Black Cumin

Black Cumin (Nigella sativa) seeds have been used to treat diseases for centuries, especially in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Black Cumin seeds as well as its raw and essential oils have been widely used for nutrition and medicine (17). Among the numerous active components, thymoquinone is the most abundant compound in Nigella sativa seeds and the responsible for most of its properties (18). Nigella sativa and its major compound thymoquinone possess multiple pharmacological activities, including antioxidant (19), anti-inflammatory, anti-nociceptive (20), antimicrobial (21), antiepileptic (22), antitussive (23), and hypoglycemic (24). Thymoquinone is highly hydrophobic. It exhibits poor solubility in aqueous media, thus limiting its bioavailability (25).

Sferalp developed a formulation with Nigella sativa extract which, thanks to its composition, in water forms a micelle system increasing the solubility of thymoquinone and consequently its bioavailability. This formulation is available as a self-emulsifying formulated oil (SEFO).

In development products

Black Cumin SEFO (PN04)

Black Cumin Sundalp (PN30)

Nigella sativa flower

(1) Siddiqui, M. Z. (2011). Boswellia serrata, a potential antiinflammatory agent: an overview. Indian journal of pharmaceutical sciences73(3), 255.

(2) Poeckel D, Werz O. Boswellic acids: biological actions and molecular targets. Curr Med Chem 2006; 13: 3359-69.

(3) Abdel-Tawab, M., Werz, O., & Schubert-Zsilavecz, M. (2011). Boswellia serrata. Clinical pharmacokinetics50(6), 349-369.

(4) Sharma, S., Thawani, V., Hingorani, L., Shrivastava, M., Bhate, V. R., & Khiyani, R. (2004). Pharmacokinetic study of 11-keto β-Boswellic acid. Phytomedicine11(2-3), 255-260.

(5) Jurenka, J. S. (2009). Anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin, a major constituent of Curcuma longa: a review of preclinical and clinical research. Alternative medicine review14(2).

(6) Hatcher H, Planalp R, Cho J, Torti FM, Torti SV (2008) Curcumin: from ancient medicine to current clinical trials. Cell Mol Life Sci CMLS 65(11):1631–1652.

(7) Lestari, M.L.; Indrayanto, G. Curcumin. Profiles Drug Subst. Excip. Relat. Methodol. 2014, 39, 113–204.

(8) Mahady, G.B.; Pendland, S.L.; Yun, G.; Lu, Z.Z. Turmeric (Curcuma longa) and curcumin inhibit the growth of Helicobacter pylori, a group 1 carcinogen. Anticancer Res. 2002, 22, 4179–4181.

(9) Wright, L.E.; Frye, J.B.; Gorti, B.; Timmermann, B.N.; Funk, J.L. Bioactivity of turmeric-derived curcuminoids and related metabolites in breast cancer. Curr. Pharm. Des. 2013, 19, 6218–6225.

(10) Aggarwal, B.B.; Harikumar, K.B. Potential therapeutic effects of curcumin, the anti-inflammatory agent, against neurodegenerative, cardiovascular, pulmonary, metabolic, autoimmune and neoplastic diseases. Int. J. Biochem. Cell Biol. 2009, 41, 40–59.

(11) Panahi, Y.; Hosseini, M.S.; Khalili, N.; Naimi, E.; Simental-Mendia, L.E.; Majeed, M.; Sahebkar, A. Effects of curcumin on serum cytokine concentrations in subjects with metabolic syndrome: A post-hoc analysis of a randomized controlled trial. Biomed. Pharmacother. 2016, 82, 578–582.

(12) Kuptniratsaikul, V.; Dajpratham, P.; Taechaarpornkul, W.; Buntragulpoontawee, M.; Lukkanapichonchut, P.; Chootip, C.; Saengsuwan, J.; Tantayakom, K.; Laongpech, S. Efficacy and safety of Curcuma domestica extracts compared with ibuprofen in patients with knee osteoarthritis: A multicenter study. Clin. Interv. Aging 2014, 9, 451–458.

(13) Mazzolani, F.; Togni, S. Oral administration of a curcumin-phospholipid delivery system for the treatment of central serous chorioretinopathy: A 12-month follow-up study. Clin. Ophthalmol. 2013, 7, 939–945.

(14) Anand, P., Kunnumakkara, A. B., Newman, R. A., & Aggarwal, B. B. (2007). Bioavailability of curcumin: problems and promises. Molecular pharmaceutics4(6), 807-818.

(15) Aggarwal B.B., Yuan W., Li S., Gupta S.C. Curcumin-free turmeric exhibits antiinflammatory and anticancer activities: Identification of novel components of turmeric. Mol Nutr Food Res, 2013; 57(9): 1529-42.

(16) Nair, A., Amalraj, A., Jacob, J., Kunnumakkara, A. B., & Gopi, S. (2019). Non-curcuminoids from turmeric and their potential in cancer therapy and anticancer drug delivery formulations. Biomolecules9(1), 13.

(17) Ramadan, M. F. (2007). Nutritional value, functional properties and nutraceutical applications of black cumin (Nigella sativa L.): an overview. International journal of food science & technology42(10), 1208-1218.

(18) Tavakkoli, A., Mahdian, V., Razavi, B. M., & Hosseinzadeh, H. (2017). Review on clinical trials of black seed (Nigella sativa) and its active constituent, thymoquinone. Journal of pharmacopuncture20(3), 179.

(19) Burits M, Bucar F. Antioxidant activity of Nigella sativa essential oil. Phytother Res 2000; 14: 323–328.

(20) Ghannadi A, Hajhashemi V, Jafarabadi H. An investigation of the analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects of Nigella sativa seed polyphenols.
J Med Food 2005; 8: 488–493.

(21) Dey D, Ray R, Hazra B. Antitubercular and antibacterial activity of quinonoid natural products against multi-drug resistant clinical isolates.
Phytother Res 2014; 28: 1014–1021.

(22) Damião PD, Franklin FFN, Camila CMPS, Rubens BB, Ygor WV, Marciana PU, Timothy JB, Reinaldo ND. Anticonvulsant activity of thymoquinone and its structural analogues. Rev Bras Farmacogn 2011; 21: 427–433.

(23) Hosseinzadeh H, Eskandari M, Ziaee T. Antitussive effect of thymoquinone, a constituent of Nigella Sativa seeds, in guinea pigs. Pharmacologyonline 2008; 2: 480–484.

(24) Meddah B, Ducroc R, El Abbes Faouzi M, Eto B, Mahraoui L, BenhaddouAndaloussi A, Martineau LC, Cherrah Y, Haddad PS. Nigella sativa inhibits intestinal glucose absorption and improves glucose tolerance in rats. J Ethnopharmacol 2009; 121: 419–424.

(25) Odeh, F., Ismail, S. I., Abu-Dahab, R., Mahmoud, I. S., & Al Bawab, A. (2012). Thymoquinone in liposomes: a study of loading efficiency and biological activity towards breast cancer. Drug delivery19(8), 371-377.