Welcome to our featured herb of the month. This is where we discuss natural herbs that have long been known to have medicinal properties and have existed in many diverse cultures across the world. Every herb is rooted in a deep tradition and has helped alleviate countless ailments for generations.
Boswellia resin or the “Indian Frankincense” has been a staple in Indian medicine for thousands of years. Let’s just say it has history. Recently in the West, Boswelia has been making its name heard as a natural treatment for chronic inflammatory illnesses.
As a result, it has become a popular natural alternative in place of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which have been known to cause high blood pressure and stomach irritation.
Boswellia originates from tropical regions in Africa and Asia, with a particularly long history in Indian culture and medicine. For example, Ayurvedic healers have utilized Boswellia resin for centuries and were said to have realized its health benefits after observing elephants and their penchant for consuming loads of Boswellia.
Elephants in Hinduism have traditionally been considered a sacred animal and tie directly to the Ganesh, an elephant deity. Because of this innate relationship, Boswellia was seen to represent longevity and good health, much like elephants do.
During biblical times, Frankincense, a white resin extract from Boswellia, was said to be one of the gifts given to baby Jesus by the Three Wise Men. Often used in worship as an incense and aromatic, Frankincense was a symbol of the divine and represented Jesus and his willingness to sacrifice.
Frankincense essential oils and aromatherapy can provide a wide variety of health benefits ranging from reducing acne, strengthening skin, to soothing joint pain or muscle aches. Frankincense as incense is often used in religious ceremonies today.
The mainstay of Boswellia’s healing capabilities comes from its anti-inflammatory properties, which have been known to treat illnesses such as Rheumatoid arthritis, Osteoarthritis, Asthma, Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. In general, Boswellia is often used for various types of chronic pain, joint pain and sports injuries. It is most often taken in capsule or tablet form, but is also available as a cream.
Since Boswellia is one of many natural herbs that have anti-inflammatory properties, it is commonly packaged in products with similar herbs like Turmeric, Ginger and Curcumin to create a natural blend and increase effectiveness.
Boswellia can be a great alternative for individuals that have chronic pain but cannot take NSAIDs due to having high blood pressure or heart problems.
In order to achieve its anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects, Boswellia helps deactivate the triggers for inflammation and pain with the presence of its Boswellia acids. It does this by inhibiting the 5-lipoxygenase enzyme, a process known for blocking the production of leukotrienes.
Leukotrienes are responsible for producing histamines and prostaglandins that contribute to inflammation within the body. 5-lipoxygenase enzyme inhibition is also an activity present in ginger. On top of this, Boswellia acids help stimulate the growth of cartilage and encourage healthy blood circulation to the inflamed joints.