Boswellia also goes by the name of Indian frankincense. The Boswellia Serrata tree is known for its richly fragrant resin. Traditional Persian medical textbooks describe its use for Alzheimer’s, with recent evidence backing this claim. The Persian medical textbooks also suggest use for asthma [i]. Boswellia is available in the form of extracted resin, capsules, tablets or creams for applying to skin.
Method of Action:
Boswellia blocks the pathways which make leukotriene molecules, which are signaling molecules to our body’s cells to create inflammation[ii]. Constituents such as triterpenoids and beta-Boswellic acid also have inflammatory action[iii].
As one of Boswellia’s main properties is its anti-inflammatory actions, this makes this botanical extract an effective painkiller and to prevent the loss of cartilage which commonly leads to the development of joint diseases such as arthritis. Resins from trees of Boswellia serrata, have been used for arthritis and other diseases in Ayurvedic medicine since ancient times in India where it is termed Shallaki or Salai [iv]. Recent studies suggest Boswellia to be of benefit for osteoarthritis [v] [vi]. Popular use also includes rheumatoid arthritis [vii].
Boswellia controls inflammation to reduce the immune response associated with asthma. For example, it helps to regulate the production of inflammatory cytokines, which are cell signaling molecules instructing the body to create inflammation. Evidence from studies validate Boswellic acid effect on airway inflammation, which causes asthma attacks [viii].
Inflammatory Bowel Disease:
Boswellia appears to have synergistic effects with curcumin from turmeric for added anti-cancer activity [xiii].
Boswellia may have additive effects to medication, especially medication intended to reduce inflammation. Please check with your prescribing GP prior to supplementation [xiv].
[i] Javadi B, Sahebkar A, & Emami SA. (2017) ‘Medicinal Plants for the Treatment of Asthma: A Traditional Persian Medicine Perspective’. Current Pharmaceutical Designs. 23(11): pp.1623-1632.
[ii] Hahn, J.M. (2005). Integrative therapies for chronic pain and inflammation. Integrative Medicine Clinicians Journal 4 (5) pp.20-26
[iii] Krohn, K., Rao, M.S., Raman, N.V. and Khalilullah, M. (2001), High-performance thin layer chromatographic analysis of anti-inflammatory triterpenoids from Boswellia serrata Roxb.. Phytochem. Anal., 12: 374-376.
[iv] Grover, A.K., & Samson, S.E. (2015) ‘Benefits of antioxidant supplements for knee osteoarthritis: rationale and reality’. Nutrition Journal. 1, 2015
[v] Sengupta, K., Alluri, K.V., Satish, et al. (2008) ‘A double blind, randomized, placebo controlled study of the efficacy and safety of 5-Loxin® for treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee’. Arthritis Research and Therapy. 10, R85.
[vi] Vishal, A. A., Mishra, A., & Raychaudhuri, S. P. (2011). ‘A double blind, randomized, placebo controlled clinical study evaluates the early efficacy of aflapin in subjects with osteoarthritis of knee’. International journal of medical sciences. 8(7) pp.615–622
[vii] Murray MT & Rocklin, CA, (1995)’ Prima Publishing. The Healing Power of Herbs’ pp. 327–35.
[viii] Liu, Z., Liu, X., Sang, et al. (2015). 'Boswellic acid attenuates asthma phenotypes by down-regulation of GATA3 via pSTAT6 inhibition in a murine model of asthma’. International journal of clinical and experimental pathology, 8(1), 236–243
[ix] Sarkate A, & Dhaneshwar SS. (2017) ‘Investigation of mitigating effect of colon-specific prodrugs of boswellic acid on 2,4,6-trinitrobenzene sulfonic acid-induced colitis in Wistar rats: Design, kinetics and biological evaluation’. World Journal of Gastroenterology. 23(7):1147-1162.
[x] Gerhardt, H., Seifert, F., Buvari, P., et al. (2001). ‘Therapie des aktiven Morbus Crohn mit dem Boswellia-serrata-Extrakt H 15'. Zeitschrift für Gastroenterologie, 39(1), pp.11-17.
[xi] Ranjbarnejad, T, Saidijam, M, Moradkhani, S et al. (2017) ‘Methanolic extract of Boswellia serrata exhibits anti-cancer activities by targeting microsomal prostaglandin E synthase-1 in human colon cancer cells’. Prostaglandins & Other Lipid Mediators, (131) pp.1-8.
[xii] Xia, D., Lou, W., Fung, K. et al. (2017). ‘Cancer Chemo preventive Effects of Boswellia sacra Gum Resin Hydrodistillates on Invasive Urothelial Cell Carcinoma: Report of a Case’. Integrative cancer therapies. 16(4), pp.605–611.
[xiii] Haroyan, A., Mukuchyan, V., Mkrtchyan, N. et al. (2018). 'Efficacy and safety of curcumin and its combination with boswellic acid in osteoarthritis: a comparative, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study’. BMC complementary and alternative medicine, 18(1), 7.
[xiv] Paoletti, A, Gallo, E, Benemei, S, et al. (2011) ‘Interactions between Natural Health Products and Oral Anticoagulants: Spontaneous Reports in the Italian Surveillance System of Natural Health Products’, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, (2011) 612150, 5.
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