Boswellia (standardized to contain 55% Boswellic Acid) (Boswellia serrata) (leaf): Boswellia, also known as boswellin or "Indian frankincense," comes from the tree Boswellia serrata, that grows in the dry hills of India. For centuries, traditional Indian healers have taken advantage of the anti-inflammatory properties of the tree bark's gummy resin, called salai guggal. Modern preparations made from a purified extract of this resin and packaged in pill or cream form are used to reduce inflammation associated with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Unlike conventional NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen - the accepted treatments for joint inflammation - boswellia doesn't seem to cause stomach irritation. It also may be effective for back pain and certain chronic intestinal disorders.
Health Benefits: Research has identified specific active anti-inflammatory ingredients in this herb, which are commonly referred to as boswellic acids. In animal studies, these acids have been shown to reduce inflammation significantly in several ways. Boswellic acids deter inflammatory white cells from infiltrating damaged tissue. They improve blood flow to the joints. They also block chemical reactions that set the stage for inflammation to occur in chronic intestinal disorders such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Boswellia may help to ease symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Boswellia can be taken internally as well as applied topically to affected joints to relieve inflammation associated with these joint disorders. This may lessen morning stiffness and increase joint mobility.
In a study of 175 patients with rheumatic disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, 122 participants experienced reduced stiffness and inflammation two to four weeks after starting on a boswellia regimen. Boswellia's anti-inflammatory properties can help to reduce aching and stiffness, especially when associated with low back pain. Although research indicates that boswellia is best taken orally for this purpose, creams appear to be soothing as well. Boswellia also appears to reduce the inflammation associated with ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, both painful intestinal disorders. It seems to accomplish this without the risk of further gut irritation associated with many conventional pain relievers. In a 1997 study of ulcerative colitis sufferers, 82% of those who took boswellia extract (350 mg three times daily) experienced a complete remission of their disease.