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Boswellia sacra (generic name)

treats Brain tumors, Crohn's disease, Rheumatoid arthritis, Osteoarthritis, Ulcerative colitis, and Asthma
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Alternate Title

Frankincense, Guggals, Olibanum

Category

Herbs & Supplements

Synonyms

11-keto ß-boswellic acid, Acetyl-11-keto ß-boswellic acid (AKBA), African elemi (Boswellia frereana), Arabian incense (Bakhour), Bibal incense (Boswellia carterii), birdwood, Bosweilla, Boswellia carterii, Boswellia dalziellii, Boswellia frereana, Boswellia ovalifoliolata, Boswellia papyrifera, Boswellia sacra, Boswellia serrata, Boswellia serrata gum resins, BSB108, Burseraveae (family), carterii, dhup, frankincense, guggals, H15®, indish incense, Mexican bursera, nopane (Boswellia), oleogum resins, oleo-resin, olibanum, pentacyclic tritrepertinoid, S-compound®, sacra, salai guggal, sallai guggul, Sallaki®.

Background

Resin extracts from the Boswellia serrata tree have been found to have anti-inflammatory effects. Animal and laboratory studies suggest possible efficacy for inflammatory conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis, although high-quality human data are lacking. Initial human evidence suggests the efficacy of boswellia as a chronic therapy for asthma (but not for the relief of acute asthma exacerbations). Further studies are warranted in this area.

As opposed to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), long-term use of boswellia has not been shown to cause gastrointestinal irritation or ulceration, although adverse effects have not been well studied in humans.

Evidence

DISCLAIMER: These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

Asthma (chronic therapy): Boswellia has been proposed as a potential chronic asthma therapy. Future studies are needed to assess the long-term efficacy and safety of boswellia and to compare the efficacy of boswellia to standard therapies. Boswellia should not be used for the relief of acute asthma exacerbations.
Grade: B

Brain tumors: Boswellia has been used as a cancer treatment but there is not enough human data to support this use over standard therapies. Cancer should be treated by a medical oncologist.
Grade: B

Crohn's disease: Boswellia has been noted to possess anti-inflammatory properties. However, limited human data exist, and there is inadequate evidence for or against using boswellia in the treatment of Crohn's disease.
Grade: C

Osteoarthritis: Due to boswellia's potential anti-inflammatory properties, boswellia has been suggested as a potential treatment for osteoarthritis. Further research is needed in this area.
Grade: C

Rheumatoid arthritis: Due to boswellia's potential anti-inflammatory properties, boswellia has been suggested as a potential treatment for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, data is conflicting and sometimes combination products have been used. Therefore, there is currently insufficient evidence to recommend for or against the use of boswellia for rheumatoid arthritis.
Grade: C

Ulcerative colitis: Due to boswellia's potential anti-inflammatory properties, boswellia has been suggested as a potential treatment for ulcerative colitis. At this time, however, only a limited number of human trials have evaluated this use of boswellia, with inconclusive results. Therefore, there is inadequate evidence for or against this use of boswellia.
Grade: C

Tradition

WARNING: DISCLAIMER: The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.
Acne, amenorrhea (lack on menstrual period), analgesic (pain reliever), antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiseptic, astringent, autoimmune diseases (encephalomyelitis), belching, bladder inflammation, blood purification, boils, breast cysts, bruises, bursitis, cancer, carminative (digestion aid), cervical spondylosis, chemopreventive, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cicatrizant (scar formation), cystitis, digestive, diuretic, dyspepsia (upset stomach), emmenagogue (induces menstruation), expectorant, gas, genital area infections, hepatitis (hepatitis C), hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol), immunostimulant, infections, insomnia, leukemia, multiple sclerosis, nephritis, parasitic infections (trypanosomiasis), pain, peptic ulcer disease, pimples, sedative, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), skin ulcers/sores, stomach ulcers, stomach upset, syphilis, tendonitis, toxin-induced liver damage, tumors (meningioma), upper respiratory infections, uterine infections, varicose veins, wound healing, wrinkle prevention.

Dosing

Adults (over 18 years old)

There is no proven effective dose for boswellia. For asthma, 300 milligrams three times a day of boswellia powdered gum resin capsules (S-compound®) taken by mouth has been used. Another dose that has been taken is 400 milligrams three times daily (extract standardized to 37.5% boswellic acids per dose). For Crohn's disease, 1,200 milligrams three times daily of standardized Boswellia serrata gum resin H15® has been taken by mouth for up to eight weeks. For rheumatoid arthritis, 400 milligrams three times daily of standardized Boswellia serrata gum resin H15® has been taken by mouth. For ulcerative colitis, 350-400 milligrams three times daily (extract standardized to 37.5% boswellic acids per dose) has been taken by mouth.

Children (under 18 years old)

Safety, efficacy, and dosing have not been systematically studied. Some experts believe that regular use of boswellia may mask the symptoms of asthma in children and may delay diagnosis. Use in children should be supervised by a qualified healthcare professional.

Safety

DISCLAIMER: Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.

Allergies

Avoid in individuals with a known allergy to boswellia, its constituents, or members in the Burseraveae family. Allergic contact dermatitis has been associated with the use of a naturopathic cream containing Boswellia serrata extract.

Side Effects and Warnings

Boswellia is generally believed to be safe when used as directed, although safety and toxicity have not been well studied in humans. The most common complaints in trials have been nausea and acid reflux. A qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, should be consulted prior to use.

Dermatitis (itchy, inflamed skin) has been reported in clinical trials using Articulin-F®, a combination product containing gum resin from Boswellia serrata as well as Withania somnifera (ashwagandha), Curcuma longa (turmeric), and zinc complex. However, it is not clear if boswellia alone would cause these effects.

Boswellia extract has been associated with mild gastrointestinal upset, abdominal fullness, epigastric pain, gastroesophageal reflux symptoms, diarrhea, and nausea. It is not clear to what extent these symptoms were related to the patients' underlying colitis or the boswellia specifically in some cases due to use of a combination product.

Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

Reports in the Indian literature suggest that resin from boswellia is an emmenagogue (promotes menstruation) and may induce abortion. Safety of boswellia during pregnancy has not been systematically studied, and therefore cannot be recommended.

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