Is Boswellia an Effective Treatment for Arthritis?
Boswellia has been used to treat medical conditions for millennia and belongs to the Ayurvedic family of medicine. Ayurvedic medicine involves using historically proven health improvement methods that utilize the healing properties of specific herbs and spices.
You have probably heard about the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of Curcumin (Turmeric), Black Pepper, Cinnamon, etc. Well, Boswellia offers similar benefits and can help with some medical conditions.
One of these conditions is arthritis. Any form of arthritis is debilitating and severely damages one’s quality of life and health. While Rheumatoid Arthritis cannot be healed, Boswellia does seem to reduce its symptoms, ultimately giving the afflicted person a better and easier time with this condition.
This article will explain what Boswellia is, which benefits it offers, and whether or not it’s a viable treatment for arthritis.
What is Boswellia?
Boswellia, or as it’s otherwise known, Indian Frankincense, is a resin extracted from the Boswellia tree. This tree grows in North Africa, the Middle East, and India. Boswellia is extracted from the tree by tapping it, so it releases the resin.
Boswellia resin can be used in the culinary world, but it generally isn’t due to its strong flavor. Instead, it is commonly used as incense which is why many people call it Frankincense. Boswellia’s application in traditional medicine is well-known, but studies have yet to show its full clinical benefits.
Boswellia has only been tested on cell or animal models, with human models expected in the near future. However, its anti-inflammatory properties are well documented, which is one of the main reasons it’s still popular today. But what else can Boswellia do?
What Benefits Does Boswellia Have?
Boswellia has been in medicinal use for centuries, most commonly for treating inflammatory diseases. While there hasn’t been a lot of research on Boswellia and its effects, we are beginning to see why it’s a healthy choice for treating these ailments.
Boswellic Acid is the primary ingredient in Boswellia, and research has shown that it showcases anti-inflammatory abilities. But that’s not all - here are a couple of medical conditions on which Boswellia has had a certain effect.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
One of the leading causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis symptoms is joint inflammation. Most RA treatments focus on reducing inflammation symptoms and inflammation itself. Some treatments of this sort include NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) and steroids.
These treatments effectively reduce RA symptoms, but some patients cannot receive them due to other underlying medical conditions. Boswellia appears to be an effective alternative to the before-mentioned medication.
According to a 2019 study conducted on rats, Boswellia has been shown to reduce inflammation caused by RA. However, its effects and efficiency were weaker than traditional RA medication, making Boswellia a complementary therapy option to support classical RA treatments.
Certain studies have shown that Boswellic Acids may contain antitumor properties that can effectively fight cancerous cells. However, most of these studies were conducted using cell and animal models, which may hinder its application in humans.
More clinical studies and tests need to be done before we know the entire story of Boswellia and cancer, but the results are already promising.
IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease)
IBDs are highly uncomfortable and potentially dangerous stomach ailments. The two described as IBDs are Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. The most common IBD symptoms are abdominal pain, weight loss, persistent diarrhea, fatigue, and rectal bleeding.
Treating IBDs is tedious and restrictive; in essence, individuals suffering from IBDs must avoid certain foods for their entire lives.
Boswellia has shown promise in animal models where Boswellic Acids (found in Boswellia) improve IBD markers without affecting surrounding tissue and organs. With more research and technological advancements, we might see it as a supportive treatment for these medical conditions, but for now - it has shown positive signs of being effective at treating IBDs.
Parkinson’s Disease is a degenerative neural condition that commonly affects older folk. We have no known cure for Parkinson’s Disease, but some treatments are meant to prolong the relatively high quality of life for individuals suffering from it. But, this can only help up to a certain point, after which there’s no going back.
And, thanks to a 2019 study on the efficacy of Boswellia for treating Parkinson’s Disease, we might soon have another. Once again, animal models were used to determine the effects of Boswellia intake. The study results indicate Boswellia’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which, given time and resources, could be used in the future.
Finally, Boswellia has shown promise in asthma treatments thanks to a study conducted in 2015. Research suggests that Boswellic Acid can suppress inflammation in the airways and prevents cytokine secretion (markers that tell of inflammation).
In essence, Boswellic Acid seems to prevent the asthma-causing allergic response completely. That said, clinical trials on humans still need to be conducted to confirm its effectiveness properly.
How to Take Boswellia?
You should always be mindful when purchasing Boswellia because it comes in a couple of different forms, and its quality may vary drastically. One recommendation (if you’re taking Boswellia for Arthritis) is taking 300-400mg of Boswellia thrice a day. Ideally, you would want to get Boswellia capsules that contain around 60% Boswellic Acid as the active ingredient.
Most Boswellia capsules are filled with Boswellia resin (in powder form), but you can also purchase raw Boswellia resin with a texture similar to sap. In other cases, they may extract Boswellic Acid from the resin to create a tablet.
Alternatively, you can buy pure Boswellia essential oil to deliver the active compounds through your skin. It’s important to dilute the essential oil in a carrier oil and apply it to your skin. One word of advice - test the diluted oil on a small section of your skin to see whether there’s a reaction. Some people are allergic to Boswellia without knowing it.
Boswellia can sometimes be found in Turmeric as well, most commonly as a sort of natural blend.
Always consult your doctor for information about the effects of certain drugs and remedies before you begin using them. This will help you avoid potential side effects.
Are There Any Side Effects of Boswellia?
Even though Boswellia is a natural extract, you may experience certain side effects. Each person is different, so the side effects (if any) may vary, but it’s important to know about them. Boswellia's side effects include digestive issues (diarrhea, acid reflux, nausea, etc.), skin rashes (when applied as oil on the skin), and negative interactions with other drugs.
If you plan on using Boswellia and are already taking Aspirin, Ibuprofen, or Naproxen, consult your doctor to determine whether or not it’s safe to do so. Lastly, Boswellia may interfere with some anticoagulant and antiplatelet drugs, so again - consult a doctor beforehand.
We’ve learned a lot about Boswellia in recent years, but there’s still plenty of work and research to be done before it gets accepted as a clinically-accepted compound. Nonetheless, Boswellia's potential is impressive, and there’s evidence supporting the claims made by Ayurvedic medicine.
Just remember that it should, at the current stage, be used as a supportive form of medication for traditional treatments. And, always consult your doctor before trying anything new, especially if you’re already taking certain medications for your conditions.