Learn More About Boswellia
What is boswellia?
Boswellia is an aromatic resin derived from the famous frankincense tree. Frankincense, you will recall, was purportedly one of the gifts brought by the Three Wise Men to the newborn Christ child. As this story suggests, boswellia has long been cherished for its health benefits throughout the Eastern hemisphere. In particular, it looms large in Ayurvedic medicine.
What is boswellia used for?
Boswellia been shown to reduce inflammation in both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and other autoimmune conditions by blocking the lethal pro-inflammatory enzyme 5-lipoxygenase (5-LOX). A number of immune system chemicals released during the inflammatory response contribute to the chronic inflammation seen in atherosclerosis, osteoarthritis and certain autoimmune diseases. Blocking these pro-inflammatory chemicals reduces symptoms of inflammation.
Although the benefits of boswellia are similar to those of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, boswellia works by blocking 5-LOX, the first enzyme released in the metabolic pathway leading to the synthesis of the immune system cytokines known as leukotrienes. Leukotrienes are harmful inflammatory substances thought to directly influence the disease process in a number of different disorders, including rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, and asthma.
The active ingredients of boswellia, the boswellic acids, decrease the activity of another pro-inflammatory enzyme known as human leukocyte elastase, or HLE. HLE and leukotriene levels are increased in many inflammatory diseases and allergic reactions. To date, boswellia is the only substance known to reduce levels of both HLE and leukotrienes. In 2005, researchers found that boswellia works in part by altering the expression of the cytokine tumor necrosis factor alpha, another integral component in inflammation. An excess tumor necrosis factor alpha promotes chronic inflammation. Applying boswellia to cells has been shown to decrease tumor necrosis factor alpha activity related to endothelial dysfunction, cancer metastasis, arthritis, and other disease processes.
Researchers have found that boswellia helps prevent the deterioration of cartilage and joint tissue. This suggests that boswellia may relieve symptoms in arthritis by inhibiting the breakdown of connective tissues that is caused by tumor necrosis factor-alpha. Studies in both humans and dogs show after as little as two weeks of boswellia therapy include reduced pain, stiffness, and lameness.
In patients with rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease, boswellia appears to help reduce the immune cells that promote inflammation while increasing the number of immune cells that inhibit inflammation anti-inflammatory cells. In studies of patients with inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease boswellia reduced gastrointestinal inflammation and tissue damage.
Keep in mind that scientists now suspect that inflammation may be the culprit behind a great many diseases that we typically don’t associate with it. Research suggests that inflammation possibly plays a role in Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and even cancer. Any non-toxic approach to reducing the body’s inflammatory load is potentially of great significance.
How is boswellia taken?
Consumers typically ingest boswellia in either capsule or tablet form, although some people who suffer from tendonitis and arthritis will also use it as a topical lotion.
Is boswellia safe?
Although many prescription anti-inflammatory preparations exist, both in prescription form and for over-the-counter use, they often have potentially serious side effects ranging from stomach bleeding to immune suppression to liver failure. This does not appear to be the case with the herbal extract we call boswellia, which has been used for thousands of years in India and elsewhere.
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These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.