Boswellia is one of the most ancient and respected herbs in Ayurvedic healing. Traditionally it was used to treat arthritis, colitis, coughs, sores, snakebites, and asthma. Researchers and clinicians are finding that boswellia is a potent anti-inflammatory, antiarthritic for both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, and pain reliever without any side effects. The gum and oil also are used in cosmetics, perfumes, and skincare products.
Bioavailability is significantly increased if ingested with fats.
dhup, frankincense, Indian olibanum, mastic, olibanum, salai gugal, olibano.
Along with myrrh, boswellia was traded for centuries in the Middle East, as seen by biblical references to this substance under the name frankincense. Boswellia is aromatic, granular, and translucent.
The oleoresin resin that collects in small hollows of the tree trunk is extracted by making incisions in the bark; the resinous droplets ooze out in the form of tears along the trunk and round its base and are scraped off. Harvesting is suspended only in the rainy season.
Anti-inflammatory and analgesic, immunosuppressive, antibacterial, demulcent, antidiarrheal, emollient.
Laboratory studies have shown that boswellic acids, active components in boswellia, deactivate the hormonal triggers for inflammation and pain in osteoarthritis. These acids effectively shrink inflamed tissue and could stimulate the growth of cartilage, increase blood supply to inflamed joints, and enhance the repair of local blood vessels damaged by inflammation. In one study, patients with knee pain derived benefit from boswellia at 333 milligrams per capsule, taken three times a day for eight weeks. When the patients were receiving the boswellia, they experienced less pain intensity and swelling, and improved knee function.
Clinical studies using boswellia have shown some good results in both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Several studies have reported dramatic improvement within two to four weeks. Experimental and clinical usage of boswellia indicates that it does not produce any side effects, such as irritation, ulcers, and effects on heart rate and blood pressure, which are associated with most anti-inflammatory and antiarthritic drugs.
Boswellia extracts have been shown to inhibit the synthesis of pro-inflammatory mediators including prostaglandins and leukotrienes. This action may help treat diseases like inflammatory bowel disease, asthma, and arthritis. Boswellia seems to work better in treating chronic asthma symptoms rather than acute asthma.
A randomised double-blind, placebo-controlled cross-over study was conducted to assess the efficacy, safety and tolerability of a crude Boswellia serrata extract in 30 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee. Fifteen subjects received the active Boswellia serrata extract or placebo for 8 weeks. After the first treatment, a washout period was permitted and the groups were then crossed over to receive the opposite intervention for 8 weeks. All patients receiving Boswellia serrata extract reported a decrease in knee pain, increased knee flexion and increased walking distance. The frequency of swelling in the knee joint was decreased, but radiology detected no change. The observed differences between drug treatment and placebo were statistically significant (p < 0.05). Boswellia serrata extract was well tolerated by the subjects except for minor gastrointestinal adverse events.
A double-blind, placebo-controlled study involving 40 patients with bronchial asthma assessed the effects of an extract of the crude drug for treatment of symptoms. The patients were treated with a preparation of gum resin of 300 mg three times daily for a period of 6 weeks. After treatment, 70% of patients showed improvement as evident from the disappearance of physical symptoms and signs such as dyspnoea, bronchial asthma and decreased the number of attacks, as well as a decrease in eosinophil count and electron spin resonance. In the control group (treated with lactose, 300.0 mg three times daily, for 6 weeks), only 27% of patients in the control group showed improvement. The data show a role for the crude drug in the treatment of bronchial asthma.
Dosage (Divided Daily)
• Dried Resin: 1,000 – 3,000 mg
• Powder Extract: 600 – 1,200 mg (65% Boswellic acids) Take with fatty substance to enhance bioavailability.
• Tincture: 0.3 – 0.6 mL (1:1)
Some people may be contact allergic to plant
Minor gastrointestinal side-effects have been reported in the clinical trials
Interactions with other drugs
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- Khare, C. P. (2004). Indian herbal remedies: rational Western therapy, ayurvedic, and other traditional usage, botany. Berlin; New York: Springer.
- Mars, B. (2007). The desktop guide to herbal medicine: the ultimate multidisciplinary reference to the amazing realm of healing plants, in a quick-study, one-stop guide. Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health Pub.
- World Health Organization., & Ebrary. (1999). WHO monographs on selected medicinal plants (pp. electronic text.). Retrieved from https://virtual.anu.edu.au/login/?url=http://site.ebrary.com/lib/anuau/Top?id=10040306
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