Boswellia is a traditional natural remedy that has been used for thousands of years to treat swelling and inflamation in Ayurvedic medicine and traditional Chinese medicine. Boswellia is also a traditional medicine in North Africa and the Middle East. Recent medical studies have found boswellia serrata extract to be a viable alternative to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin and ibuprofen to reduce pain and swelling without irritating the stomach with long term use, and it has also shown promise as an alternative treatment for ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and IBS. Are boswellia supplements right for you?
What is Boswellia? How long has boswellia been a traditional natural remedy?
Boswellia serrata is a traditional natural remedy which has been around for millenia. The boswellia serrata tree grows in India, and the gummy resin under its bark has long been used as a natural remedy in Ayurvedic medicine to treat wounds, skin disorders like fungus and boils, and even varicose veins. Boswellia resin is also used in making frankincense, although the resin used to make the sort of frankincense given to Jesus as a baby comes from boswellia sacra, a different species of boswellia than the medicinal boswellia serrata. Sometimes known as Indian Frankincense, boswellia serrata should not be confused with guggul or myrrh.
Boswellia is also well known in traditional Chinese medicine, where it has long been used to treat pain and swelling of the limbs and joints caused by arthritis, bursitis and the like. TCM also uses boswellia to treat oral inflamation and pain in the mouth and gums. Traditional Chinese doctors often mix Boswellia resin with myrrh to treat pain and swelling.
What is boswellia used for today?
Today, boswellia serrata is showing great promise as a treatment for pain and swelling or inflamation caused by osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and bursitis. Boswellic acid may help relieve symptoms caused by carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive stress injuries.
Boswellia serrata extract is also proving to be an excellent and effective natural remedy for Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and both collagenous and ulcerative colitis.
Are there any studies showing boswellia benefits for arthritis pain, inflammation and digestive complaints?
In 2003, medical researchers conducted a randomized double blind placebo controlled trial of boswellia serrata extract on 30 patients suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee. Half of the patients were treated with Boswellia serrata extract, half received a placebo, and after 8 weeks the groups switched places.
After taking boswellia serrata extract for 8 weeks, all of the patients in the study reported less pain in their arthritic knees and were able to walk farther without pain than before receiving the boswellia supplements. Patients on boswellia also showed an increased range of motion and less swelling in their knees from arthritis than before they began the boswellic acid treatment.
Boswellia is also a promising natural remedy as a treatment for digestive problems such as colitis, Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome. Boswellia serrata extract has also shown promise as a treatment for collagenous colitis and chronic diarrhea. The German researchers at the Technical University Hospital in Dresden concluded that the results of their small scale boswellia serrata extract study were successful enough to merit an additional, larger studies.
Are there any side effects from boswellia serrata extract and boswellic acid?
Boswellia serrata extract and its active ingredient, boswellic acid, are generally considered safe for genearl consumption, although preganant women, nursing mothers, children and those with kidney problems or liver disease should talk with their doctors before taking boswellia. Side effects from boswellia may include nausea, acid reflux and other digestive problems, or dermatitis.
How should I take boswellia to treat arthritis, RSI, bursitis, colitis, Crohn’s disease or IBS?
Boswellia serrata extract and supplements containing boswellic acid are readily available in both capsules and tablets. To treat pain and inflamation from osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, carpal tunnel or other RSI, the usual dosage is a total of 150 to 400 mg spread throughout the day, although the colitis study used dosages as high as 1,500 mg daily. You might want to take boswellia supplements with a meal containing healthy oils or other fats to help absorbtion and avoid gastrointestinal side effects.
As always, you should talk with your doctor before taking boswellia serrata extract, supplements containing boswellic acid or any herbal medicine or natural remedy.
PubMed.gov: Phytomedicine 2003 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12622457
PubMed.gov: Int J Colorectal Dis. 2007 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17764013