ByDiana Milling •June 22, 2016
Boswellia, commonly known as Indian Frankincense, is an ayurvedic herb derived from trees of the Sapindales order. The bark of the plant is generally used, specifically the gum resin, which is known for its sweet, citrus, balsamic fresh aroma with a hint of spice. The word frankincense means true, authentic, pure or “free lighting” incense.
Although there are four main species of Boswellia, B. serrata is the most common. It is a moderate sized flowering plant/branching tree with pinnate leaves and flowers that are long and ovate with whitish-pink colored petals that blossom between September and November. This plant thrives in humidity and is found mainly in valleys and woodlands of East Africa, Asia and India.
This mighty herb has been used for thousands of years for its anti-inflammatory properties. With the increasing number of autoimmune and inflammatory conditions, Bosweillia has been widely researched for its protective benefits.
Interestingly, it works on a different pathway than most anti-inflammatory drugs do. Most function as COX enzyme inhibitors, Boswellia works by inhibiting LOX enzymes (in particular 5-lipoxygenase). The body makes both of these enzymes in response to injury or illness as they are responsible for inflammation. Boswellia has been found to have multiple inhibitory actions including anti-cancer properties. This is due to its anti-tumoral and anti-proliferative effects, which stop cancer cells from dividing.
The herb contains boswellic acids, one in particular, 3-acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid (AKBA) that is the most potent 5-LOX inhibitor. When using a Boswellia supplement it is important to look for a high quality brand and one that contains at least 65% or higher boswellic acids.
Based on the actions of Boswellia, it is useful in managing various conditions.
- Osteoarthritis (improves blood supply to the joints & restores the integrity of weakened blood vessels)
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- IBD (Crohns disease/Ulcerative colitis)
- Anti-cancer (prostate cancer, brain tumors -significantly reduces cerebral edema, melanoma and other cancers)
- Auto-immune conditions
- Cystic fibrosis
- Chronic bronchitis
- Fever reducer
- Reduces risk for atherosclerosis
As always, the use of supplementation should be directed under the care of a trained health care professional.
Other articles by Diana Milling, ND:
Wired and Tired: The Road to Adrenal Fatigue
Naturopathic Approach To Restore Cortisol Balance
Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health practitioners with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.