The intake of specific nutrients can promote health, but is not a substitute for medication or the advice of the attending physician.
The boswellia is a tree native to Asia and Africa. There are about twenty species of Boswellia trees, which can also be called incense trees. The resin of Boswellia serrata, the Indian incense tree, which is widely used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, seems to be effective against rheumatic pains, inflammations – especially digestive – and respiratory and dermatological infections.
Boswellia is useful in cases of inflammation and is an antioxidant.
Boswellia has many properties to limit chronic inflammation, for example by modulating the secretion of inflammatory cytokines.1,2 It also reduces oxidative stress (by increasing the action of antioxidant enzymes and reducing free radicals). This can improve the viability of our cells and limit damage to our organs. These effects are said to be correlated with its high content of phenolic compounds and flavonoids.3,4 In particular, it possesses four types of acids β-boswellia, which are responsible for inhibiting pro-inflammatory enzymes.5 Thus, it seems to be very useful in cases of inflammation and is very well tolerated.6 Furthermore, boswellia could also act on our sensation of pain, increasing our tolerance threshold.7
Boswellia can help stimulate our Immunity
Boswellia can act on our immune system, in particular by stimulating our adaptive immunity cells and increasing the ability of our immune cells to “eat” those responsible for the infection (phagocytosis).3,8 It can also regulate the amount of inflammatory cytokines, which is intimately linked to the proper functioning of our immune response. Its antioxidant action can also be valuable for the proper functioning of our immune system.8 In addition, viral infections can be limited by certain antimicrobial factors present in boswellia.9
Boswellia can help protect our joints
Its favourable effects in case of inflammation seem to protect the joint.10 Boswellia can be used in osteoarthritis. Numerous studies show that taking it improves joint function (WOMAC and Lequesne scores) and limits cartilage degradation, inflammation, pain and stiffness. Taking boswellia can therefore be a good addition to osteoarthritis treatments, while being very safe.11-15
Boswellia may be beneficial in case of other chronic diseases (but does not replace medication or medical treatment)
Given its abundant pharmaceutical properties (anti-inflammatory, expectorant, antiseptic, antiseptic, anxiolytic, anti-neurotic, analgesic, tranquilizer and antibacterial effects) thanks to its varied molecules acting on many cellular factors, boswellia seems to be useful in many chronic diseases.9
Inflammatory diseases such as inflammatory bowel diseases and ulcers can be reduced, particularly by the favourable effect in cases of inflammation, as can asthma. Metabolic and cardiovascular disorders such as diabetes or atherosclerosis benefit from its inhibitory action on inflammatory genes, its modulation of cell survival and antioxidant functions, as well as its regulation of glucose and cholesterol levels. Multi-factorial diseases such as cancers or neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s) benefit from its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions, as well as its modulation of cell survival. Boswellia is considered to be a neuroprotective agent, and could also reduce anxiety. Dermatological disorders, such as psoriasis, can also be treated, thanks to the reduction of inflammatory cytokines.4,9,16–18
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- Schmiech, M. et al. Comparative investigation of frankincense nutraceuticals: Correlation of boswellic and lupeolic acid contents with cytokine release inhibition and toxicity against triple-negative breast cancer cells. Nutrients 11, (2019).
- Bertocchi, M. et al. Anti-Inflammatory Activity of Boswellia serrata Extracts: An In Vitro Study on Porcine Aortic Endothelial Cells. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity 2018, (2018).
- Beghelli, D. et al. Antioxidant and Ex Vivo Immune System Regulatory Properties of Boswellia serrata Extracts. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity (2017) doi:10.1155/2017/7468064.
- Algieri, F. et al. Botanical Drugs as an Emerging Strategy in Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A Review. Hindawi Publishing Corporation (2015) doi:10.1155/2015/179616.
- Siddiqui, M. Z. Boswellia serrata, a potential antiinflammatory agent: An overview. Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences vol. 73 255–261 (2011).
- Abdel-Tawab, M., Werz, O. & Schubert-Zsilavecz, M. Boswellia serrata: An overall assessment of in vitro, preclinical, pharmacokinetic and clinical data. Clinical Pharmacokinetics vol. 50 349–369 (2011).
- Prabhavathi, K., Shobha Jagdish Chandra, U., Soanker, R. & Usha Rani, P. A randomized, double blind, placebo controlled, cross over study to evaluate the analgesic activity of Boswellia serrata in healthy volunteers using mechanical pain model. in Indian Journal of Pharmacology vol. 46 475–479 (Medknow Publications, 2014).
- Ammon, H. P. T. Modulation of the immune system by Boswellia serrata extracts and boswellic acids. Phytomedicine 17, 862–867 (2010).
- Roy, N. K. et al. An update on pharmacological potential of boswellic acids against chronic diseases. International Journal of Molecular Sciences vol. 20 (2019).
- Alluri, V. K., Kundimi, S., Sengupta, K., Golakoti, T. & Kilari, E. K. An Anti-Inflammatory Composition of Boswellia serrata Resin Extracts Alleviates Pain and Protects Cartilage in Monoiodoacetate-Induced Osteoarthritis in Rats. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2020, (2020).
- Vishal, A. A., Mishra, A. & Raychaudhuri, S. P. A double blind, randomized, placebo controlled clinical study evaluates the early efficacy of Aflapin® in subjects with osteoarthritis of knee. International Journal of Medical Sciences 8, 615–622 (2011).
- Sengupta, K. et al. Comparative efficacy and tolerability of 5-loxinspi® and aflapinspi® against osteoarthritis of the knee: A double blind, randomized, placebo controlled clinical study. International Journal of Medical Sciences 7, 366–377 (2010).
- Yu, G. et al. Effectiveness of Boswellia and Boswellia extract for osteoarthritis patients: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC complementary medicine and therapies 20, 225 (2020).
- Bannuru, R. R., Osani, M. C., Al-Eid, F. & Wang, C. Efficacy of curcumin and Boswellia for knee osteoarthritis: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Seminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism 48, 416–429 (2018).
- Majeed, M., Majeed, S., Narayanan, N. K. & Nagabhushanam, K. A pilot, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to assess the safety and efficacy of a novel Boswellia serrata extract in the management of osteoarthritis of the knee. Phytotherapy Research 33, 1457–1468 (2019).
- Rajabian, A., Sadeghnia, H. R., Fanoudi, S. & Hosseini, A. Genus Boswellia as a new candidate for neurodegenerative disorders. Iranian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences 23, 277–286 (2020).
- Liu, Z. et al. Boswellic acid attenuates asthma phenotypes by downregulation of gata3 via pstat6 inhibition in a murine model of asthma. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Pathology 8, 236–243 (2015).
- Moussaieff, A. & Mechoulam, R. Boswellia resin: from religious ceremonies to medical uses; a review of in-vitro, in-vivo and clinical trials. Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology 61, 1281–1293 (2009).