Herbs and Premenstrual Syndrome - Medicinal Herbs Podcast Series

LATEST PODCAST EPISODE — LISTEN NOW

Boswellia: A Natural Anti-Inflammatory Agent

Key Topics: Inflammation
February 20, 2020 • 1 min read
Summary

Boswellia has many pharmacological and medicinal applications which include supporting the immune system, digestion, blood circulation, joint health, pain management, and cognition.

What is Boswellia?

Clinical benefits of Boswellia have been studied for many years; Boswellia is the genus of trees in the order of Sapindales, comprising nearly 25 species in total.1-3 The main species of Boswellia are B. sacra, B. frereana, B. papyrifera, and B. serrata. Boswellia serrata, also known as “Indian Frankincense,” is known for many pharmacological and medicinal applications.3-4 Boswellia are moderately sized flowering plants (trees and shrubs) and are native to tropical regions, predominantly India, Africa, and the Middle East. Boswellia has been studied for its potential as a natural product for ayurvedic medicinal use.4 Originally, its medicinal use in elephants was observed by ayurvedic healers and eventually was translated to human health benefits.

In ancient times, Boswellia extracts were procured from the sap of the Boswellia tree and used to treat chronic ailments responding to anti-inflammatory agents including arthritis, diarrhea, and pulmonary diseases.5 Recently, Boswellia has gained much attention in the medicinal community because of its active ingredients and unique chemical signature; “boswellic acid” possesses anti-inflammatory properties equivalent to prescription medications without any signs of side effects.6 Moreover, Boswellia has been studied for its potential as a natural product for medicinal use because of its high boswellic acid content, particularly acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid (AKBA) as the predominant active component in Boswellia.

Most supplements in the marketplace have been specialized to maximize that component.7 However, recent research has indicated that few of the water soluble polysaccharides in Boswellia are critical components in initiating and supporting anti-inflammatory activity, while the lipid-soluble boswellic acid facilitates a slow and sustained action. Indeed, a specific boswellin polysaccharide extract (Polysal) primarily consisting of galactose, arabinose, D-glucuronic acid, and 4-o-methyl-glucuronoarabino-galactan has demonstrated a dose dependent anti-inflammatory potential, similar to the boswellic acids.7

Clinical Benefits of Boswellia

The clinical benefits of Boswellia include supporting the immune system, digestion, blood circulation, joint health, pain management, and cognition.8-13 Several studies have reported that Boswellia is relatively safe and potent. While most anti-inflammatory drugs function as Cox enzyme inhibitors, B. serrata exerts a novel inhibitory effect of pro-inflammatory enzymes (5-lipxygenase) and effectively blocks cytokine synthesis, which are strong contributors to inflammation-associated diseases.14 Cytokines (leukotrienes) play a major role in promoting a battery of age-associated diseases including joint pain, intestinal disorders, cancer, and pulmonary diseases. The anti-inflammatory effects of Boswellia have been investigated for their benefits in osteoarthritis (OA), pain, and inflammation that are common in many conditions such as asthma, swelling, and gastrointestinal (GI) health.

Further, boswellic acid suppresses the proliferation of tissues at the site of inflammation and inhibits the breakdown of connective tissues caused by TNF-α, a potent inflammatory agent. In addition, Boswellia has been proven to improve blood circulation to the joints, restoring the integrity of damaged blood vessels, and again it is a natural way of preserving the vascular function unlike the traditional drugs of choice with side effects. Safety and efficacy studies indicated that a threshold of 5000 mg/kg of boswellia extract with 30 percent AKTA correlated to 2000 – 3000 times the effective daily dose in humans with no safety concerns. An oral dose of up to 160 mg boswellia extract/day kg equivalent to 11g/150 pound adult was derived based on an oral supplementation (5000 mg/kg bw) study in rats.15

The most important potential health effects of Boswellia have been based on the results of ancestral usage and some pre-clinical and clinical studies. Boswellia is also used as a phytopharmaceutical for brain edema associated with radiotherapy due to its general anti-inflammatory.16-19  Additionally, frankincense, the resin from the B. serrata tree, is used to relieve depression and anxiety via aromatherapy, in religious ceremonies to purify air, and in topical applications.20 Some preclinical and clinical studies have shown that frankincense could also improve the learning and memory in animals and humans. In conclusion, the use of Boswellia might have a potential role in wholistic medicine not only to treat chronic inflammation, but also for cognition and memory concerns.

Did you like this article?

Like
  1. William, R. (n.d.). Boswellia Roxb. ex Colebr. Asiatic Researches, 9(379), 1807. http://legacy.tropicos.org/Name/40029741
  2. The Plant List. (2012). Boswellia: Species in Boswellia. http://www.theplantlist.org/1.1/browse/A/Burseraceae/Boswellia/
  3. Wikipedia. (2013). Royal botanic gardens, kew. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Botanic_Gardens,_Kew
  4. Siddiqui, M.Z. (2011). Boswellia serrata, a potential antiinflammatory agent: An overview. Indian journal of pharmaceutical sciences73(3), 255–261. https://doi.org/10.4103/0250-474X.93507
  5. Weeks, A., Daly, D.C., & Simpson, B.B. (2005). The phylogenetic history and biogeography of the frankincense and myrrh family (Burseraceae) based on nuclear and chloroplast sequence data. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 35: 85-101.
  6. Judd, W.S., Campbell, C.S., Kellogg, E.A., Stevens, P.F., & Donoghue, M.J. (2008). Plant systematics: A phylogenetic approach (3rd ed). Sinauer Associates, Inc.
  7. Safayhi, H., & Sailer, E.R. (1997). Anti-inflammatory actions of pentacyclic triterpenes. Planta medica63(6), 487–493. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-2006-957748
  8. Woolley, C.L., Suhail, M.M., Smith, B.L., Boren, K.E., Taylor, L.C., Schreuder, M.F., Chai, J.K., Casabianca, H., Haq, S., Lin, H.K., Al-Shahri, A.A., Al-Hatmi, S., & Young, D.G. (2012). Chemical differentiation of Boswellia sacra and Boswellia carterii essential oils by gas chromatography and chiral gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Journal of chromatography. A1261, 158–163. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chroma.2012.06.073
  9. Kimmatkar, N., Thawani, V., Hingorani, L., & Khiyani, R. (2003). Efficacy and tolerability of Boswellia serrata extract in treatment of osteoarthritis of knee: A randomized double blind placebo controlled trial. Phytomedicine, 10(1), 3-7. https://doi.org/10.1078/094471103321648593
  10. Umar, S., Umar, K., Hasnath, M.D., et al. (2014). Boswellia serrata extract attenuated inflammatory mediators and oxidative stress in collagen induced arthritis. Phytomedicine, 21(6), 847-856. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phymed.2014.02.001
  11. Ammon, H.P.T. (2010). Modulation of the immune system by Boswellia serrata extracts and boswellic acids.. Phytomedicine, 17(11), 862-867. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phymed.2010.03.003
  12. Iram, F., Khan, S.A., & Husain, A. (2017). Phytochemistry and potential therapeutic actions of Boswellic acids: A mini-review. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, 7(6), 513-523. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apjtb.2017.05.001
  13. Riva, A., Morazzoni, P., Artaria, C., et al. (2016). A single-dose, randomized, cross-over, two-way, open-label study for comparing the absorption of boswellic acids and its lecithin formulation. Phytomedicine, 23(12), 1375-1382. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phymed.2016.07.009
  14. Hamidpour, R., Hamidpour, S., Hamidpour, M., & Shahlari, M. (2013). Frankincense (Boswellia Species): From the selection of traditional applications to the novel phytotherapy for the prevention and treatment of serious diseases. Journal of Traditional and Complimentary Medicine, 3(4), 221-226. https://doi.org/10.4103/2225-4110.119723
  15. Siemoneit, U., Pergola, C., Jazzar, B., Northoff, H., Skarke, C., Jauch, J., & Werz, O. (2009). On the interference of boswellic acids with 5-lipoxygenase: mechanistic studies in vitro and pharmacological relevance. European journal of pharmacology606(1-3), 246–254. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejphar.2009.01.044
  16. Lalithakumari, K., Krishnaraju, A.V., Sengupta, K., Subbaraju, G.V., & Chatterjee, A. (2006). Safety and toxicological evaluation of a novel, standardized 3-O-Acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid (AKBA)-enriched boswellia serrata extract (5-Loxin(R)). Toxicology mechanisms and methods16(4), 199–226. https://doi.org/10.1080/15376520600620232
  17. Streffer, J.R., Bitzer, M., Schabet, M., Dichgans, J., & Weller, M. (2001). Response of radiochemotherapy-associated cerebral edema to a phytotherapeutic agent, H15. Neurology56(9), 1219–1221. https://doi.org/10.1212/wnl.56.9.1219
  18. Sharma, R., Singh, S., Singh, G.D., Khajuria, A., Sidiq, T., Singh, S.K., Chashoo, G., Pagoch, S.S., Kaul, A., Saxena, A.K., Johri, R.K., & Taneja, S.C. (2009). In vivo genotoxicity evaluation of a plant based antiarthritic and anticancer therapeutic agent Boswelic acids in rodents. Phytomedicine : international journal of phytotherapy and phytopharmacology16(12), 1112–1118. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phymed.2009.06.009
  19. Suh, J., Payvandi, F., Edelstein, L.C., Amenta, P.S., Zong, W.X., Gélinas, C., & Rabson, A.B. (2002). Mechanisms of constitutive NF-kappaB activation in human prostate cancer cells. The Prostate52(3), 183–200. https://doi.org/10.1002/pros.10082
  20. Pang, X., Yi, Z., Zhang, X., Sung, B., Qu, W., Lian, X., Aggarwal, B.B., & Liu, M. (2009). Acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid inhibits prostate tumor growth by suppressing vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2-mediated angiogenesis. Cancer research69(14), 5893–5900. https://doi.org/10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-09-0755
  21. Moussaieff, A., Rimmerman, N., Bregman, T., Straiker, A., Felder, C.C., Shoham, S., Kashman, Y., Huang, S.M., Lee, H., Shohami, E., Mackie, K., Caterina, M.J., Walker, J. M., Fride, E., & Mechoulam, R. (2008). Incensole acetate, an incense component, elicits psychoactivity by activating TRPV3 channels in the brain. FASEB journal : official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology22(8), 3024–3034. https://doi.org/10.1096/fj.07-101865

Scientifically driven. Education focused. Healing Inspired.

Subscribe to Insights

Receive clinically driven nutrition insights you can trust.

Animated Newsletter WM
close

Join Our Community to Read Further

This is a premium article created for our Healthcare Practitioner readers. Create a free account to continue reading and gain full access.

Dismiss

signup-logo

WholisticMatters offers health care practitioners and nutrition enthusiasts alike the opportunity to create a free profile for access to site features like bookmarking. Enjoying an article you are reading or a video you are watching? Save it to come back to later! Sign up in seconds for continuous access to all that WholisticMatters has to offer.

WholisticMatters also offers health care practitioners who create a free user profile access to exclusive content and tools to utilize in clinical practice. Articles, tools, and downloads created specifically for practitioners to use in their office for better patient education in clinical nutrition and health. Sign up today with your email and credentials so we can confirm you as a health care practitioner, and you are free to peruse the resources unique to you and your colleagues in health.

close

Create Your Account:

show-pass Please use 8 or more characters with a mix of letters, numbers & symbols
signup-logo
close

Create a free account to use our great bookmarking tool

Once your account is created, you'll be able to save and organize what matters to you!

Already have an Account? Login Here


Click 'Sign Up' above to accept Wholistic Matters's Terms of Service & Privacy Policy.
close

Are you a Healthcare Professional? Sign Up For Free Access!

We'll verify your credentials and get you access to our great interactive tools.

Already have an Account? Login Here


Click 'Sign Up' above to accept Wholistic Matters's Terms of Service & Privacy Policy.