What is boswellia? Named after John Boswell, a Scottish botonish, Boswellia or Boswelia or Boswella is herb found in dry mountainous regions of India, Northern Africa and Middle East. Gum resin extracted from the Boswellia serrata tree is popularly known as Indian Frankincense. Other common names of Boswellia are Salai guggul or Shallaki (Sanskrit). Boswellia herb has been long used in folk medicines of Asia and Africa for the treatment of a number of health problems. Some early Ayurvedic doctors correlated long life and astounding strength of elephants to their large intake of Boswellia. It is also known as “Gajabhakshya” (enjoyed being eaten by elephants) in Sanskrit. In Ayurveda, Boswellia has been used in treating arthritis and other inflammatory problems. Shallaki powder is used in various traditional Ayurvedic remedies to treat arthritis, diarrhea, ringworm, fever, skin diseases, cough, vaginal discharge, hair loss, jaundice and as tonic to liver.
Boswellia, which is available in the form of pills, resin or cream, is found to be very effective in treating various chronic inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and asthma. Some studies indicate that Boswellia may be used for treating certain types of cancers, such as blood and breast cancer. The anti-inflammatory effects of boswellia can be attributed to the acids present in it that prevent the formation of leukotrienes which cause inflammation.
What are Boswellia benefits?
Boswellia Serrata is a wonderful herbal extract with a multitude of health benefits. It is a super food that is found to have extraordinary anti-inflammatory and healing properties. Boswellia serrata uses derives from its varied health benefits. The following are a few of the many boswellia serrata benefits:
Boswellia for arthritis and osteoarthritis
Various studies conducted on boswellia extract shows that it is useful in treating the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis and osteoarthritis. According to one study, patients treated with boswellia serrata extract reported significant reduction in their knee pain and swelling. It also helps in reducing the levels of an enzyme that causes cartilage degradation and thus increase mobility and endurance.
Boswellia for inflammation disorders
Boswellia resin has strong anti-inflammatory properties that may be beneficial in the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Studies show that boswellia produces similar results as mesalazine, a medicine used for the treatment of Crohn’s disease. A study found that Boswelia serrata resin showed improvements in patients suffering from chornic colitis in comparison to known pharmaceuticals.
Read more about Frankincense benefits
Boswellia for asthma relief
Boswellia serata has the ability to reduce the levels of leukotrienes that are responsible for causing contraction of bronchial muscles. According to a study on the effects of boswellia on bronchial asthma, patients experienced considerable reduction in the symptoms of asthma after taking the extract. Thus it can be used in treating bronchial asthma.
Boswellia fights cancer
The strong acids found in boswellia extract or boswellia supplement play an important role in inhibiting the growth of cancer. These acids help in preventing various enzymes from causing damage to the DNA. According to a study, boswellic acids are effective in suppressing the growth and proliferation of pancreatic cancer cells. Studies also show that boswellia may help in destroying advanced breast cancer cells as well as preventing the spread of blood and brain tumor cells.
Boswellia may prevent atherosclerosis
Researchers have found that boswellia has the ability to block 5-lipoxygenase (5-LOX), which is a harmful pro-inflammatory enzyme. An increase in the level of this enzyme leads to an increase in the levels of leukotriene products, which causes the white blood cells to stick to the arterial walls. Moreover, leukotrienes may also lead to vascular permeability and the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL). All these effects may further result in the formation of atherosclerotic plaques in the arteries, which plays an important role in causing heart attacks. So the use of boswellia is beneficial in lowering the risks of heart attacks and atherosclerosis.
Bosweilla lowers cholesterol
Studies reveal that bosvelia is capable of lowering the levels of bad cholesterol or LDL and triglycerides and increasing the good cholesterol or HDL levels.
Boswellia and brain health
Animal studies have proven the ability of boswellia to alleviate depression. It also helped in enhancing memory by interacting with neurotransmitter signaling cascades and inflammatory mediators. Boswella serrata has been found to reduce swelling and inflammation of the brain caused by brain cancer.
Boswellia for treating type 1 diabetes
Boswellia has been found to benefit people suffering from type 1 diabetes mainly due to the fact that type1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where insulin deficiency and beta-cell death are caused by chronic inflammation. Studies conducted on mice with type 1 diabetes showed that boswellia helped in preventing an increase in the levels of blood glucose along with preventing the destruction of pancreatic cells. Boswellia was also found to suppress various inflammation markers such as Interleukin-1A, Interleukin-1B, Interleukin-2, Interleukin-6, Interferon-gamma and Tumor necrosis factor alpha. According to researchers, extracts obtained from the gum resin of Boswellia prevent the destruction of pancreatic cells by inhibiting the production or action of cytokines associated with inducing islet inflammation in an autoimmune process.
Read more about natural foods for diabetes
Boswellia promotes digestive health
Although anti-inflammatory drugs such as NSAIDs and COX-2 inhibitors are effective in lowering inflammation, they may cause many negative side effects such as heart failure, ulcers and bleeding of the gastrointestinal tract. Boswellia, on the other hand is not only safe, but is also found to improve and protect the health of your gastrointestinal tract. Studies on rodents show that boswellia can inhibit the formation of gastric ulcer formation by as much as 51 percent.
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Boswellia and skin benefits
Boswellia has been widely used in the beauty industry as an effective anti-aging ingredient. The acids present in this extract promote the rejuvenation of skin cells. Boswellic acid has astringent properties and it provides a tonic effect on the skin. Since it is a natural ingredient, Boswellia does not cause any side effects and hence is perfect for any types of skin. Boswellia serrata oil has been found to have the power to rejuvenate skin and produce a more beautiful and younger looking skin. According to researchers at the University of Brescia in Brescia, Italy, women who used boswellia cream on their skin developed beautiful skin that was very smooth, supple and less oily within 30 days. Boswellia also promotes faster healing of wounds, sores and scars on the skin.
Boswellia relieves pain
In addition to having the ability to reduce inflammation, boswellia is also effective as a natural pain reliever. The extract obtained from the boswellia gum resin has potent anti-inflammatory and vascular supporting properties. It relieves pain by dilating the blood vessels that are constricting and causing the pain. Boswellia extract also prevents the formation of leukotrienes that cause pain and inflammation.
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Boswellia for treating ringworm
Boswellia oil has anti-fungal properties and according to Ayurvedic practitioners, it can be used for the treatment of ringworm and other fungal infections.
Boswellia helps with weight loss
Boswelia serrata contains a high level of gugglesterones, which are extremely helpful in promoting weight loss. It also stimulates the thyroid and improves the functioning of this gland, leading to an increase in the amount of calories burned. Boswellia is an important ingredient in several over-the-counter supplements for weight loss. Read about ayurvedic treatment for weight loss.
Benefits of Boswellia for dogs and cats
These day you would find Boswellia being included in vet supplements. It is believed to improve joint movements in dogs and cats. Unlike other drugs, it doesn’t harm cartilage while offering anti-inflammatory properties. A clinical trial results showed that intake of Boswelia serrata extract by dogs help treat lameness while in motion or after long rest. It also showed positive results in treating chronic joint and spinal diseases in dogs. Boswellia helps improve mobility and flexibility in cats and dogs. Boswellia tincture can be also used to treat ringworms in cats.
Boswellia for horses
With its strong anti-inflammatory properties it is believed to improve horse mobility. It protects joints, muscle and ligaments in horse. Boswellia can be added to equine feed. Unlike NSAIDS, which have other side effects, boswelia do not have any long term side effects on horses. Boswellia serrata for horses is tonic for muscles and joints.
Boswellia complex benefits
Boswellia complex is proprietary formulation made from extracts of boswellia, celery seeds, Ginger and turmeric. It combines antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of these popular herbs. They offer boswellic acid, gingerols, cucumin and other phytochemicals which offers strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. While they claim to improve circulatory and digestive functions, boswellia complex side effects cannot be eliminated.
Boswellia side effects
Use of boswellia supplements in form of boswellia capsules or boswellia tincture is becoming popular these days. Hence it is important to understand side effects of boswellia. Boswellia serrata side includes include nausea, abdominal discomfort, hyperacidity or diarrhea. Boswellia extract side effects may be also due to it excessive dosage or its interaction with other drugs.
Other uses of Boswellia herb
Just like Frankincense, boswellia herb and resin are used as incense in various religious functions. Indian olibanum, as it is also called is popularly used in preparation of perfumes, soaps, cosmetics and detergents.
Did you know? Other common names of Boswellia herb: Boswellia Resin or Boswellia frankincense is also called luban or loban (Arabic, Urdu), Kundar, Loban, Makund (Hindi) chilakadupa, dhupa, lobaana, haalu maddi, paramgi saambraani (Kannada), lobhan (Marathi) gandha firoza, loban (Persian) dvija, kundur, kunduru, mukundah, palanki, palankya, surabhi, turushka (Sanskrit) kunduruvu (Telegu)
Inflammation plays a major role in causing many chronic diseases. Boswellia health benefits in preventing inflammation without any side effects can be attributed to its strong anti-inflammatory properties. Although boswellia has not become popular in conventional medicine it does possess several properties that could be beneficial in treating many chronic illnesses. Boswellia was highly valued in ancient times that it was one of the gifts given to Baby Jesus by the three wise men.Image Credits: Flickr - Dinesh Valke