Potential uses and Effects of the Natural Anti-Inflammatory Herb known as Boswellia Serrata
The herb Boswellia Serrata has been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for millennia, and in more recent years, in Western medicine as a natural anti-inflammatory medicine for health and wellness.
Many people have found Boswellia Serrata as a helpful herbal treatment for osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, menstrual cramps, and inflammatory bowel disease. Others use it as a natural painkiller alternative to NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen.
What are the benefits of Boswellia Serrata extract? What is Boswellia Serrata good for treating?
Let’s get into the different potential benefits and anti-inflammatory properties of Boswellia Serrata extract, but first of all what exactly is it?
What is Boswellia Serrata?
First, let’s discuss the definition of the plant, and how Boswellia Serrata is used. Boswellia Serrata is a native plant of India and Africa. It has been used as traditional herbal medicine, as well as a ceremonial plant—it produces Indian frankincense (or olibanum).
Boswellia resin extract comes from the bark of the Boswellia tree. It comes in several different forms. Typically, people take Boswellia Serrata resin extract, Boswellia capsule supplements, or diluted pure frankincense essential oil.
How Does Boswellia Serrata Work?
Boswellia Serrata resin contains four acids which clinical studies show create an anti-inflammatory effect by preventing the formation of leukotrienes (molecules that cause inflammation and trigger asthma symptoms) in the body.
The efficacy of Boswellia extract products is typically rated on the products’ concentration of boswellic acids. High-quality Boswellia serrata extracts contain greater percentages of anti-inflammatory boswellic acids.
Boswellia products are generally rated on their concentration of boswellic acids—the best Boswellia serrata extracts and supplements typically contain at least 50% boswellic acid composition.
5 Health Benefits of Boswellia Serrata
#1: Reduces Pain and Inflammation More Safely
The most well-known Boswellia Serrata benefit is its anti-inflammation effects and pain reduction. Studies show that in clinical trials, Boswellia resin extract has been shown to improve symptoms in patients with osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
If you’re looking for a better alternative to aspirin, other NSAIDs, or steroidal painkillers, Boswellia has a different mechanism of action which appears to act unlike aspirin and steroidal drugs. Boswellic acids in Boswellia Serrata extract have the ability to inhibit 5-lipoxygenase (5-LOX) inflammation, which is something that synthetic drugs can’t do safely—even other strong botanicals aren’t as efficient at reducing inflammation.
Unlike other popular over-the-counter and prescription painkillers, which are known to damage cartilage and accelerate articular damage in arthritic conditions, Boswellia Serrata extract can relieve pain and inflammation without causing loss of cartilage.
#2: Antioxidant Properties
Although Boswellia serrata, like other herbal treatments, suffers from a lack of clinical studies required to prove many of its benefits, the studies that have been conducted may provide hints into its beneficial properties.
In one study, mice with tumors were fed Boswellia extract for 10–24 weeks. The results indicate that the Boswellia extract reduced the formation of aberrant crypt foci (pre-cancerous clusters of glands) by 46% compared to the control group.
In addition, the researchers added Boswellia-extracted acid to a cell culture of human leukemia (HL-60)—the extract inhibited DNA synthesis in the leukemia cells in a dose-dependent manner.
These results are promising; they indicate that beta-boswellic acid and its derivatives (the major components of Boswellin) have anti-carcinogenic, anti-tumor, and anti-hyperlipidemic activities.
A 2016 study revealed similar antitumor effects—Boswellic acid prevented proliferation of cancerous cells in culture dishes and in mice through caspase activation, increased Bax expression, NF-κB down-regulation, and induction of poly (ADP)-ribose polymerase (PARP) cleavage.
#3: Reduces Asthma Symptoms
Among its many other benefits, Boswellia Serrata extract can help reduce the severity of asthma attacks. There are multiple causes and triggers for asthma, such as pollen and allergies, dust, cold air, nervousness/muscle tension, exercise, and poor air quality. Genetics also can play a role, and stress can worsen asthma.
Multiple studies on Boswellia Serrata’s effects on patients with asthma have found that the herb improved patient’s asthma symptoms. Boswellia extract that contains 65% of boswellic acid can significantly decrease leukotriene levels and other inflammatory markers in people with asthma.
#4: Helps Relieve PMS
Boswellia Serrata extract can help relieve PMS symptoms such as menstrual cramps and heavy bleeding. In one study, patients received either a placebo, ginger root, or Boswellic extract three times a day for seven days of the menstrual cycle—beginning with the first bleeding day. This was repeated for two consecutive menstrual cycles.
Both Boswellia extract and ginger supplements seem to be effective complementary treatments for reducing heavy menstrual bleeding (Eshaghian et al, 2018). Further studies with a larger sample size are needed, but the data is promising.
Additionally, unlike other herbal pain-relief supplements, Boswellia extract can relieve pain quickly, making it a great herbal medicine for relieving menstrual cramp pain. Pairing Boswellia with ginger may increase benefits. Exercising, using a heating pad, taking other vitamins and essential oils may also help reduce PMS symptoms.
#5: Helps Relieve Ulcerative Colitis
Ulcerative Colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes inflammation, pain, and ulcers in your digestive tract. Taking boswellia extract seems to improve symptoms of ulcerative colitis in some people. For some people with ulcerative colitis, Boswellia Serrata seems to work as well as the prescription drug Sulfasalazine, making it a good herbal alternative medicine.
Some research shows that it can induce inflammatory bowel disease remission. 82% out of patients treated with Boswellia went into remission; compared to 75% of patients who went into who after being treated with Sulfasalazine.
The Many Uses of Boswellia Serrata Extract
As the world of herbal medicine expands and gains new research, Boswellia Serrata rises above other herbal supplements due to its range of benefits, many applications of use, and overall safety. Its anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects are exciting for researchers and patients, making it a promising herb for medicine.
As most studies have shown, the quality of Boswellia extract and the range of Boswellic acids play a large role in getting the most benefits from it. For the best Boswellia serrata extract, check out Nature Provides Boswellia Serrata, containing 2000mg of powerful Boswellia extract, and 65% premium Boswellic acid.