|Boswellia is an herb extracted from the gummy resin of the Boswellia serrata tree bark, a species native to India. Boswellia serrata
is a moderate to large branching tree found in the dry hilly areas of India. When the tree trunk is tapped, a gummy oleoresin is exuded. The gum oleoresin consists of essential oils, gum, and terpenoids. The terpenoid portion contains the boswellic acids that have been shown to be the active constituents in boswellia.
The boswellic acids in Boswellia are active ingredients of the herb. All boswellic acids have a pentacyclic structure based on 12-ursen-24-oic acid with differing substituents. Many individual boswellic acid compounds have been isolated from the Boswellia extract including alpha and beta boswellic acids and derivatives. Boswellic acids have been shown to inhibit the production of certain inflammatory chemicals (leukotrienes) in the body. Boswellic acids have been found to have much the same effect as the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) typically prescribed for arthritis. Boswellic acids block white cell activity in damaged tissue, inhibiting the inflammatory response; and they also work to enhance blood flow to the joint region. Boswellic acids may interfere with enzymes that contribute to inflammation and pain.
Boswellia is a significant herb in the ayurvedic system of health and healing. Historically, the guggals were recommended by Ayurvedic physicians for a variety of conditions, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, diarrhea, dysentery, pulmonary disease, and ringworm. Boswellia is mainly used for its anti-inflammatory and antiarthritic properties. Boswellia may provide benefits for treating osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Boswellia's anti-inflammatory properties can help to reduce aching and stiffness, especially when associated with low back pain. Boswellia can be taken internally as well as applied topically to affected joints to relieve inflammation associated with these joint disorders. Boswellia may improve symptoms of ulcerative colitis (inflammatory bowel disease), including abdominal pains, loose stools, and mucus and blood in the stools. Boswellia may also be beneficial in asthmatics and may also reduce fluid retention associated with brain tumours.