Boswellia or Indian Frankincense is from the tree called boswellia serrata. It is also known as Salai, Salai Guggul, as well as Gajabhakshya. It has long been used in Africa and Asia (particularly in Indian and Traditional Chinese medicine) to address inflammation and other issues related to blood circulation. Boswellia in its original form is a guggal or a sticky gum resin used in Ayurvedic medicine. Other than being an anti-inflammatory, boswellia is also generally regarded as an expectorant, antiseptic and diuretic. Boswellia is currently available as a supplement (pill), resin, and cream.
When it comes to inflammation and asthma, boswellia works by inhibiting the formation of leukotrienes through the four boswellic acids.
Boswellia has been studied as useful for the management of the following conditions:
- Asthma – because boswellia reduces leukotrienes, the bronchial muscles contract less
- Osteoarthritis – according to the Journal of Phytomedicine, boswellia may help decrease knee pain and improve flexion in 30 patients within 90 days
- Rheumatoid arthritis – the Journal of Rheumatology published a study that showed boswellia may help reduce joint pain and swelling
- Inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
- May prevent the loss of cartilage in older people
- Symptoms of breast cancer and leukemia – acids from boswellia may help prevent the development of certain enzymes that promote growth of cancer cells. Boswellia has also been shown to have the probability of limiting the spread of tumor cells in the pancreas, breast, and brain.
Boswellia supplements are popularly used by athletes for improved flexibility, joint function, and healthier digestion. It is also used by those who are aging to support healthier cartilage. The other known uses of boswellia in Ayurvedic medicine (yet to be backed up by clinical trials) include the following:
- Skin diseases
- Undescended testicles
The common dosing of boswellia is from 300 to 500 milligrams orally, twice to thrice a day. The dosage varies depending on the condition to be addressed.
Although boswellia has awesome benefits, it has to be remembered that there are certain precautions relating to it.
- May cause a decreased effects of aspirin, ibuprofen, and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- May stimulate menstruation or increased blood flow
- May increase chances of miscarriage so it is not for women who are pregnant or expecting to be pregnant
- May cause acid reflux, diarrhea, light-headedness, nausea, vomiting, and skin rashes
Both Western and Eastern medicine are quite excited about the development of research when it comes to the herb boswellia. It is one of those plants that continue to be a part of clinical trials and manufacturing for commercial use. Its popularity can also be attributed to the fact that more and more people are turning towards the more natural forms of medication and supplementation rather than the synthetic. Boswellia supplements can be really promising but it has to be remembered that complementing the herb with a healthier lifestyle of proper diet and exercise works better in the long run.