Boswellia, or Frankincense (Boswellia serrata)
Boswellia trees produce a fragrant resin we know as frankincense. These trees are native to India, the Middle East and North Africa. Long used in Ayurvedic herbal medicine, this herb is also used in perfumery and religious ceremonies. Resin extracts from the trees are made into extracts for medicinal purposes. Noticeable for its clusters of white flowers and long slender leaves it grows well in sunny spots in well drained but moisture rich soil.
Key Medicinal Uses
Internally Boswellia has been effective in treating rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, asthma and inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn's Disease, colitis and ileitis. It has also been used to relieve menstrual cramps. Studies have shown a decrease in morning joint stiffness and pain. Grip strength also improved. In India, it is an approved herbal remedy for osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, soft tissue arthritis, myositis, fibrositis, bursitis and low back pain.
It is also recommended for bronchitis, jaundice, syphilis, ulcers and undescended testicles. It has some sedative and analgesic qualities. It works similar to NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like aspirin and ibuprofen. The extract may also lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Externally Boswellia is used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat ringworm and other skin diseases.
Other Uses The kohl that Egyptian women used to line their eyes was made from charred frankincense or a mixture of other resins mixed with frankincense. It can also be melted to make a depilatory which is then mixed into a paste with more ingredients to perfume the hands. Frankincense is a large portion of the incense blend used in religious ceremonies by the Catholic Church. Boswellia is used in Europe by veterinarians to treat joint pain and spinal disease in dogs.
Gum In late October, the bark of the tree is cut back and the gum is harvested for about two weeks. The sap is then purified and readied for healing. This resin is also known as frankincense.
There are no known contraindications or drug interactions for the herb. Rare side effects include skin rash, diarrhea and nausea.
Preparation and Dosage
For inflammatory and bronchial problems, the standard dosage of boswellia extract is 300 to 400 mg three times per day. Be sure the extract you take has been standardized to contain between 10 to 15 micrograms/ml because any anti-inflammatory relief is dependent on the correct dosage.
Capsules of boswellia extract is standardized to provide the best effect. For arthritis, take 150 mg of boswellic acid, the active ingredient, three times per day. So, if you were using a standardized capsule that contains 37.5% boswellic acid, you would need to take 400 mg of the capsules per day.