Pain, Inflammation, Joint disorders | April 18, 2018 | Author: Naturopath
Boswellia serrata is a tree that produces a medicinal resin, also known as frankincense. Boswellia resin is used extensively in traditional Ayurvedic medicine as a pain-killer. Western herbal medicine and research has begun investigating this natural analgesic anti-inflammatory herb for its potential as an alternative to prescription pain-killers.
The anti-inflammatory and analgesic actions of boswellia are largely due to a group of active constituents in the resin called boswellic acids. Some studies have shown that these acids can relieve pain and inflammation in chronic conditions as effectively as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) .
Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are caused by very different mechanisms with similar symptoms of stiff and sore joints. Boswellia may provide relief to people suffering from either (or both) forms of arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis and is caused by gradual wear and tear of joints.
This degradation of joints can lead to reduced mobility along with chronic and severe pain, and many patients rely on NSAIDs to maintain their quality of life.
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Recent studies have demonstrated that boswellia and boswellic acids may improve the symptoms of osteoarthritis on their own, or in combination with other anti-inflammatory herbs:
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Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is similar to osteoarthritis in that it is a chronic condition that affects the joints, but RA involves more dysfunction in the immune system. It is an autoimmune condition where immune cells attack particular joints and cause inflammation, pain and swelling. Boswellia also has potential in RA – it may help to balance the immune system and reduce the number of white blood cells in the joints, which will slow down autoimmune destruction and relieve symptoms  .
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Inflammatory bowel disease is an umbrella term for disorders of severe inflammation in the large intestine that present with symptoms of severe pain, bleeding and diarrhoea. IBD conditions can be debilitating and chronic, with periods of remission and flare-ups repeating throughout life.
Good news – studies suggest that boswellia may promote remission of symptoms in IBD, reduce the risk of complications, and relieve associated issues such as joint pain  .
Speak to a qualified herbalist or nutritionist before taking boswellia for IBD, as certain extracts and potencies may contribute to gastrointestinal side effects.
IBS can occur at the same time as inflammatory bowel diseases or other bowel conditions, or it can present on its own. It is characterised by symptoms of abdominal pain, constipation or diarrhoea, indigestion, gas, cramping and discomfort. Boswellia may help to relieve the severity of these symptoms and could also improve associated mood conditions such as anxiety and depression .
NOTE: It's important to speak to a doctor before self-prescribing natural therapies for IBS, as it may be connected to other conditions.
When complications of type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance occur, they are often due to an increase in oxidative stress, cellular damage and inflammation throughout the body. Early stages of type 2 diabetes is characterised by high levels of insulin in the blood, which drives up the levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and cascades of free radical activity. This causes damage to cells, nerves and tissues which lead to serious T2DM complications.
As a strong antioxidant, boswellia has been shown to protect sensitive tissues against ROS and free radical attack. It may also improve the underlying condition by boosting insulin sensitivity and normalising blood glucose levels  – but the results aren't conclusive, and correct dosage is essential. A study in 2016 showed that 500mg per day of boswellia gum resin (not concentrated extract) was no more effective at reducing glucose levels in diabetic patients than a placebo  – other studies have used a dose of at least 900mg of boswellia resin per day to demonstrate therapeutic results.
Boswellia acts as an antioxidant to reduce this oxidation and subsequent inflammation, and may also be protective against LDL oxidation. By protecting LDL, boswellia may help to reduce the formation of plaque in arteries that leads to atherosclerosis and heart disease.
People who suffer from migraines and chronic headaches often rely on pharmaceutical pain killers to relieve the symptoms, but boswellia may offer an alternative.
Boswellic acids have been shown to reduce the release of inflammatory chemicals that are associated with migraines, and may ease the severity and frequency of headaches.
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 Shenvi, S., et al. (2015) Synthesis and biological evaluation of boswellic acid-NSAID hybrid molecules as anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic agents. Eur J Med Chem., 98, 170 – 178. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26010018
 Kimmatkar, N., et al. (2003) Efficacy and tolerability of Boswellia serrata extract in treatment of osteoarthritis of knee – A randomized double blind placebo controlled trial. Phytomedicine,10, 3 – 7. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/10869700_Efficacy_and_tolerability_of_Boswellia_serrata_extract_treatment_of_osteoarthritis_of_knee_-_A_randomized_double_blind_placebo_controlled_trial
 Haroyan, A., 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 Complement Altern Med., 18:7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5761198/
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