Boswellia is our Herb of the Month for April, and for good reason. Not many people have heard of this great anti-inflammatory-arthritis-easer, but in herbal medicine it is used widely for the support of various conditions associated with inflammation. Boswellia is also one of the best herbs we have to treat osteoarthritis, owing to its super-duper anti-arthritic activity.
Elephants eat its leaves with great interest…
Boswellia is a small tree, native to North Eastern Africa and the mountains of Central India. The famous Frankincense is actually an aromatic resin derived from Boswellia and was considered extremely valuable in ancient times. From Rome to India, it was used widely for medicinal, religious and cosmetic reasons. Desire for Frankincense even helped to fuel the evolution of the famous Silk Road and it was most famously given to baby Jesus as a gift.
The gummy resin of the Boswellia tree is what we know as the Boswellia used today and has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine (the traditional medicine system used in India) for thousands of years. One Sanskrit name for the herb was ‘Gajabhakshya’ which when translated (favourite food of elephants) indicates that elephants relish Boswellia as a part of their varied leafy diet! In Ayurvedic medicine, Boswellia has traditionally been used to treat a variety of conditions including arthritis, rheumatic disorders, female hormonal imbalance and diarrhoea.
- Boswellia can reduce existing inflammation and prevent inflammation from occurring.
- The Boswellic acids in Boswellia are the main plant constituents that exert this potent anti-inflammatory activity.
- The Boswellic acids have been shown to work on multiple anti-inflammatory pathways; such as reducing levels and inhibition of various inflammatory mediators such as leukotrienes, 5-lipoxygenase and TNF-alpha.
- Because of its anti-inflammatory activity, Boswellia can provide comprehensive support for inflammatory conditions.
- Boswellia can also help to reduce the inflammation caused by mild osteoarthritis.
- Boswellia can divide and conquer osteoarthritis by reducing inflammation associated with this condition and relieving symptoms such as pain and stiffness.
- Studies have shown it can be a helpful treatment in various osteoarthritic joints, including the knee where it can decrease pain, increased knee flexion and walking distance.
- Boswellia needs to be taken for at least 2 months to see the full clinical effect on relieving osteoarthritic symptoms.
What’s the best way to take Boswellia?
Boswellia can be consumed in tea or concentrated tablet form. If you want to experience the strong anti-inflammatory or anti-arthritic effects of this herb it is best taken in a concentrated tablet, with a standardised amount of the active plant constituent - Boswellic acid – present.
Support the bones of the tree… Boswellia is derived from the gummy resin of the Boswellia tree. It is obtained by carving into the bark of the tree, where the gummy resin is then collected and dried. Interestingly, in Ayurvedic Medicine, it is thought that tree bark is related to the ‘bones’ and resin to the ‘blood.’ Resins are thought to heal the ‘bones’ of the tree, which is quite a perceptive analogy for how Boswellia can work within the human body.
Note: Boswellia can interact with some medications, so please check with your doctor before trying out this super herb.