Health benefits of Boswellia

Health benefits of Boswellia
February 17, 2014 9:47 AM

Herbs have been used traditionally in ayurvedic remedies due to their medicinal importance. Herbs are a purely natural treatment for various medical diseases and conditions. Nature has bestowed the herbs with amazing healing properties. Herbs were the only cure for many ailments when there was no concept of drugs and pharmacological medicines. Hence, these evergreen herbs hold their medicinal significance from the ancient times.

What is Boswellia?

Boswellia is a herb plant known from the ancient times. The other name for this herb is Indian frankincense. Boswellia extract is a resin extracted from the Boswellia serrata tree. But what makes Boswellia so important? Why is this herb known for centuries? What are the various health benefits of Boswellia?

The primary “anti inflammatory: role of Boswellia herb is the reason which makes this herb a good choice for the treatment of different inflammatory diseases.

How does it work?

The basic and significant role of Boswellia is to heal and fight against inflammation. Before knowing about the anti inflammatory action of Boswellia, one must need to know about the theory behind inflammation. The question might be troubling you: “How is inflammation caused? How is it possible for Boswellia herb to limit inflammation?”

Inflammation is a natural response of body to any intruder, harmful agent and infection. The process of inflammation is promoted through the production of several chemical mediators known as “mediators of inflammation”. The abundantly produced chemical mediators are prostaglandins and leukotrienes. The action of Boswellia is to limit the production of these mediators in body, especially the leukotrienes. The active ingredients of Boswellia are Boswellic acids that confers it unique property to fight inflammation.

Boswellia Serrata Extract and Solid Particles

Among the different Boswellic acids, the one with primary significance is Acetyl-11-keto-B Boswellic acid. This acid inhibits the 5-lipooxygenase enzyme, the enzyme involved in the synthesis of leukotrienes in body. So, once the synthesis of inflammatory mediators is stopped by Boswellic acid, inflammation will be resolved automatically.

Medicinal uses and health benefits of Boswellia

A number of inflammatory conditions can be treated effectively by using Boswellia. Let’s have a look at the medicinal benefits of this herb and conditions and diseases that can be cured with Boswellia herb.

Bronchial asthma

Asthma is an inflammatory disease of lungs and respiratory tract. In asthma there is narrowing of respiratory tract which makes it difficult for the person to breathe properly. The basic culprits behind asthma are none other than leukotrienes- the inflammatory mediators. In asthmatic patients, leukotrienes are produced in an uncontrolled manner. These chemical mediators have the ability to constrict and block the respiratory tract, making it hard for the sufferer to inhale air. After having the insight about asthma, one can easily understand the role of Boswellia herb in preventing this asthma attack. Boswellia is a perfect choice for asthma because of its ability to reduce the synthesis of leukotrienes. By suppressing the production of leukotrienes, the constriction of respiratory passages will be reduced and it will be easier for the patient to breath. Researchers have proved that asthmatic patients who took Boswellia extracts experienced less asthma attacks.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is an inflammatory disease of joint in which there is wearing and tearing of joints and cartilages. Osteoarthritis can be age related or due to some other reasons like hormonal fluctuation, diabetes, obesity and menopause in females. Whatever the reason of osteoarthritis might be, the thing we look for is a way to cure it. Fortunately, we have Boswellia which has an excellent potential to fight against this inflammatory conditions of joints. Studies were conducted to assess the efficacy of Boswellia in relieving in the symptoms osteoarthritis. The results showed that Boswellia was not only effective in suppressing the joint inflammation but it also helped in improving the joint mobility and functionality. But how Boswellia helps in curing joint inflammation? The joints, bones, cartilages and connective tissues contain certain enzymes called metalloproteinase enzymes. These enzymes are called cartilage degrading enzymes because they can cause the breakdown and degradation of cartilages surrounding the joints. When this protective slippery covering of cartilage is worn out, the friction increases between joints on movement. This induces the inflammation of joints and worsens the joint pain and enhances inflammation. The action of Boswellia is to protect these cartilages by inhibiting the action of cartilage degrading enzymes.

Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is another inflammatory disease of joint but it is different from osteoarthritis on the basis of its cause. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which antibodies are produced against body’s own normal and healthy tissues. Result of which is joint pain and inflammation. The culprit which causes joint inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis is “tumor necrosis factor alpha”. This factor sticks to the joint tissues and causes their destruction. But Boswellia has the power to reduce the joint swelling and pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis. This herb has a splendid propensity to bind the tumor necrosis factor, preventing it from adhering to the joint tissues and causing inflammation.

Inflammatory bowel diseases

Boswellia is beneficial for curing inflammatory diseases of bowel like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Both these diseases are due to chronic (long lasting) inflammation of bowel. In inflammatory bowel diseases an exaggerated immune response occurs towards normal bacteria residing in intestine. Boswellia was found effective in suppressing the symptoms of disease and improving the quality of life.

Diabetes type I

In type 1 diabetes, the pancreatic cells that produce insulin are completely exhausted and damaged. This results in raised blood glucose level. Inflammatory mediators like tumor necrosis factor alpha and interleukin 6 are responsible for damaging the pancreatic cells. Boswellia plays an important role in controlling diabetes if all the cells of pancreas are not damaged. This herb defends the spared insulin producing pancreatic cells against the inflammatory mediators.

Tumor suppression

Boswellia is helpful in suppressing brain cells tumors and colon cancer. A number of cancer researches show that Boswellia activates the tumor suppressor genes, the genes which check and limit the growth of cancer cells. However, further research is needed to support this claim.

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Written by: Michal Vilímovský (EN)
Education: Medical student, 3rd Faculty of Medicine, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic
Published: February 17, 2014 9:47 AM
Last updated: August 2, 2015 5:25 AM
Next scheduled update: August 2, 2017 5:25 AM
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