A bowl of boswellia resin, also known as frankincense, Boswellia fights pain

Frankincense, like myrrh, is featured in the Bible story about the three wise men visiting the infant Jesus. Like myrrh, frankincense is a resin from a tree in the family Burseraceae. (Guggul is another resin from Boswellia carteri, a tree in that family.)

Frankincense comes from Boswellia sacra, a tree that grows in Somalia and parts of Saudi Arabia. Boswellia, or Indian frankincense, comes from Boswellia serrata, a tree native to hilly regions of India.

Like guggul, this resin has a long tradition of use in Ayurvedic medicine and is almost unknown in Europe and North American herbal traditions. At least one product sold in health food stores, Boswellin, contains a standardized ethanol extract of boswellia gum.

Active Ingredients

Boswellin is standardized to 60 to 65 percent boswellic acid and its derivatives. These are the primary active ingredients in the gum resin. The volatile oil contains pinene and phellandrene, among other ingredients, and imparts a distinctive fragrance, similar to that of frankincense.

Uses

In Ayurvedic medicine, different parts of *B. serrata* were traditionally used to treat such varied health conditions as asthma, dysentery, rheumatism, ulcers, and skin disorders.

Extracts of the resin have shown unmistakable anti-inflammatory power in animals, and rats with experimental arthritis responded well to treatment without apparent side effects. Test tube research shows that boswellic acids inhibit a specific enzyme crucial in producing certain chemicals important in the process of inflammation.

A boswellic acid mixture is used in India to treat arthritis. A double-blind crossover study of patients with osteoarthritis demonstrated that a preparation containing _B. serrata_ significantly reduced disability scores and pain, although it did not alter the underlying joint deformity.

The arthritis benefits from boswellic acids may be related to their impact on glycosaminoglycan metabolism; these are the same biochemical pathways affected by glucosamine. Boswellic acid also has an effect on the immune system.

A boswellia gum resin preparation has been studied for the treatment of ulcerative colitis in comparison to sulfasalazine, a standard drug for this condition.

Over the course of six weeks, measures such as blood tests, stool analyses, and tissue pathology showed improvement. Three-fourths of the patients given sulfasalazine went into remission, and 82 percent of those on the resin preparation did so as well.

Tantalizing new research may reveal that it can help fight cancer. [BBC]

(http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8505251.stm)

Dose

The dose utilized in the ulcerative colitis study was 350 mg three times a day. That study lasted six weeks.

Special Precautions

No special precautions are noted.

Adverse Effects

Boswellia has not been shown to cause ulcers, cardiovascular, respiratory, or psychological side effects.
In clinical trials, no side effects experienced by patients were severe enough to require them to stop participating in the study.

Possible Interactions

No interactions have been reported. Limited experience with this botanical medicine in Europe or North America may mean that it has not been widely used in conjunction with pharmaceutical medicines.

Join Over 140,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

Each week we send two free email newsletters with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies and a preview of our award-winning radio show. Join our mailing list and get the information you need to make confident choices about your health.

  1. sharon
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Reply

    I had taken Boswellia Special Formula by Solaray for Varicose vein blood clots & the Boswellia cleared up the blood clots in a couple days & lifted the pain completely. I am now starting to take it again for High blood pressure & a pinched sciatic nerve. Has anyone used Boswellia for high blood pressure?

What Do You Think?

We invite you to share your thoughts with others, but remember that our comment section is a public forum. Please do not use your full first and last name if you want to keep details of your medical history anonymous. A first name and last initial or a pseudonym is acceptable. Advice from other commenters on this website is not a substitute for medical attention. Do not stop any medicine without checking with the prescriber. Stopping medication suddenly could result in serious harm. We expect comments to be civil in tone and language. By commenting, you agree to abide by our commenting policy and website terms & conditions. Comments that do not follow these policies will not be posted.