Boswellia serrata is a tree found in the Indian states of Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh. The tree produces a gummy resin, which can be obtained from its trunk. This aromatic gum resin is known as 'salai guggul' or Indian frankincense'. It is basically burned as incense, and also used in traditional medicine for treating certain ailments.
In fact, the oleoresin extracted from the trunk of the boswellia tree has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for treating arthritis. This extract has also been studied clinically to evaluate its effectiveness in treating health conditions like arthritis and osteoarthritis.
In traditional medicine, the resinous gum obtained from the boswellia tree is used mainly for the treatment of arthritis, especially osteoarthritis. The main active ingredients of Indian frankincense are collectively known as boswellic acids. These acids have been studied clinically to find out their effectiveness in improving joint function and reducing inflammation. They have also been studied to find out their effects on cancerous cells. So far, in vitro and animal studies conducted in this regard, have shown that boswellic acids can reduce inflammation.
Indian frankincense is also known to possess analgesic properties, which means that it can relieve pain along with inflammation. In fact, it can reduce pain without adversely affecting the gastric mucosa, unlike the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. This is the reason why it is so popular for treating arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis. The acids found in boswellia extract may increase the blood flow to the joints, and thereby improve joint functions. It may help prevent the breakdown of the connective tissues of the joints as well.
It can help provide relief in asthma. This extract has also shown promising results in lowering the level of cholesterol in the blood. It can reduce the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the liver as well. This resinous extract is also known to protect the liver. In Ayurvedic medicine, it is considered to be beneficial for conditions like diarrhea, dysentery, fever, blood diseases, cardiovascular diseases, jaundice, menstrual irregularities, mouth sores, ringworm, skin diseases, hemorrhoids, and hair loss.
Abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, acid reflux, and skin rash are some of the possible, but rare side effects associated with Indian frankincense. In rare cases, this extract can also cause allergic reactions in some individuals, which can manifest in skin rash, hives, chest pain or tightness, shortness of breath, and unusual swelling. If you observe any of these side effects, be sure to inform your physician at the earliest.
Boswellia extract is sometimes added to certain naturopathic creams for its anti-wrinkle effect. The use of such creams has been found to cause contact dermatitis in some individuals. However, these creams contain many other herbal ingredients other than boswellia extract.
It has been observed that Indian frankincense may increase the effects or toxicity of certain drugs. This has been mainly observed in animal studies. The drugs and supplements with which this extract is more likely to interact are, asthma medications, cholesterol-lowering drugs and supplements, anti-cancer drugs, antifungal drugs and agents, and the supplements used for treating joint diseases. Apart from these, it may reduce the effectiveness of some anti-inflammatory pain relievers as well.
To sum up, this resinous extract can help reduce the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis. However, it needs to be used with caution and in the appropriate dosage. People using any kind of medications should talk to their physicians before using this extract. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should better avoid this product, as it may promote menstruation and cause some birth-related problems. The best way to minimize the possibility of experiencing any adverse side effects associated with boswellia, is to take it under the supervision of a physician or health care provider.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.