You’ve heard of turmeric and its re­mark­able anti- infl am­ma­tory benefi ts. But did you know that there’s an herb that may be even bet­ter at eas­ing pain, re­duc­ing infl am­ma­tion, and pro­tect­ing against cancer?

Better Nutrition - - CONTENTS - BY LISA TURNER

Boswellia: The New Turmeric? When it comes to tam­ing in­flam­ma­tion, this lesser- known herb may be just what the doc­tor or­dered.

Boswellia, also known as In­dian frank­in­cense, comes from the Boswellia ser­rata tree na­tive to In­dia. It has been used for thou­sands of years in Ayurveda to treat con­di­tions in­clud­ing arthri­tis, pain, fever, and heart dis­ease. Other types of boswellia, in­clud­ing Boswellia sacra and Boswellia car­teri, have sim­i­lar eff ects.

It’s sim­i­lar to turmeric in mech­a­nisms of ac­tion and con­di­tions treated, and to­gether, cur­cumin and boswellia may have syn­er­gis­tic eff ects that make them more pow­er­ful than us­ing each alone. In one study, a com­bi­na­tion of boswellia and turmeric was more eff ec­tive in re­duc­ing pain than the pre­scrip­tion NSAID cele­coxib.

Boswellia’s anti- infl am­ma­tory benefi ts come mainly from boswellic acids and ter­penes, an­tiox­i­dant com­pounds that are also found in cit­rus fruits, eu­ca­lyp­tus, and other plants. Stud­ies sug­gest that boswellic acids work by in­hibit­ing the syn­the­sis of a specifi c proinfl am­ma­tory en­zyme, 5- lipoxy­ge­nase ( 5- LO).

Boswellia has nu­mer­ous re­ported benefi ts. Some of the main ap­pli­ca­tions:

Rheuma­toid Arthri­tis & Os­teoarthri­tis

The anti- infl am­ma­tory ac­tions of boswellia have been shown in sev­eral stud­ies to ease pain, re­duce swelling, and im­prove mo­bil­ity in pa­tients with arthri­tis or os­teoarthri­tis. Re­search shows a pro­found eff ect, in­clud­ing a re­duc­tion in arthri­tis symp­toms by 45– 67 per­cent, which is com­pa­ra­ble to pre­scrip­tion med­i­ca­tions, and a 35 per­cent re­duc­tion in infl am­ma­tion. It ap­pears to be es­pe­cially help­ful in os­teoarthri­tis of the knee, and sev­eral stud­ies have found re­duc­tions in knee pain, knee jerk­ing, swelling, and pain while walk­ing in test sub­jects who took boswellia. Un­like some herbs, which may take weeks to be eff ec­tive, boswellia works quickly— in one study, boswellia ex­tract re­duced pain and im­proved knee- joint func­tions within seven days.

In­flam­ma­tory Bowel Dis­ease

Be­cause of its anti- infl am­ma­tory ac­tion, boswellia may be eff ec­tive in treat­ing infl am­ma­tory bowel dis­eases, in­clud­ing Crohn’s dis­ease and ul­cer­a­tive col­i­tis. Stud­ies also sug­gest that boswellia can im­prove gas­troin­testi­nal health by main­tain­ing im­mune ac­tiv­ity in the lin­ing of the di­ges­tive tract and off er­ing an­tiox­i­dant pro­tec­tion. In one study com­par­ing boswellia ex­tract with an anti- infl am­ma­tory pre­scrip­tion drug, the herb per­formed as well as the drug in man­ag­ing Crohn’s dis­ease. In other stud­ies, up to 82 per­cent of ul­cer­a­tive col­i­tis pa­tients who took boswellia went into re­mis­sion.

Asthma Aid

Frank­in­cense, de­rived from boswellia, has tra­di­tion­ally been used to treat re­s­pi­ra­tory sys­tem ail­ments, in­clud­ing coughs, bron­chi­tis, and breath­ing dis­or­ders. And mod­ern stud­ies show that the boswellic acids in frank­in­cense can mod­u­late the infl am­ma­tory process that drives asthma,

dra­mat­i­cally im­prov­ing symp­toms. In one study of pa­tients with asthma, 70 per­cent of those who took 300 mg of boswellia three times daily showed sig­nifi cant im­prove­ments in breath­ing and num­ber of at­tacks. In an­other study, asthma pa­tients who took a com­bi­na­tion of boswellia, cur­cumin, and licorice root showed a sig­nifi cant de­cline in lev­els of infl am­ma­tory com­pounds and mark­ers of ox­ida­tive stress.

Cancer Pro­tec­tion

Boswellic acids ap­pear to act in sev­eral ways that can in­hibit cancer growth. They may pre­vent changes to DNA and in­duce apop­to­sis ( cell death) of cancer cells. Other boswellia com­pounds, called triter­penoids, have demon­strated an­ti­tu­mor prop­er­ties. A num­ber of cell cul­ture stud­ies show boswellia can: Slow even ag­gres­sive tu­mor growth in breast cancer cells Sup­press pan­cre­atic cancer pro­gres­sion and metas­ta­sis In­hibit prostate tu­mor growth Stop cancer cell vi­a­bil­ity and in­duce blad­der cancer cell death

You’ll fi nd Boswellia ser­rata ex­tract as a sin­gle sup­ple­ment in cap­sules, pow­ders, and tinc­tures. It’s also of­ten in­cluded in anti- infl am­ma­tory for­mu­las with turmeric ( and/ or cur­cumin) and other herbs.

Though rec­om­men­da­tions vary, a typ­i­cal dose is 300 mg, three times a day, or fol­low the directions on the pack­age. Some ex­perts say that boswellia is safe for chil­dren at half the adult dosage. Check with your physi­cian fi rst, or if you’re preg­nant or tak­ing other med­i­ca­tions. Side eff ects noted in clin­i­cal tri­als did not oc­cur more com­monly than placebo. Some re­ported side eff ects in­clude di­ar­rhea, nau­sea, ab­dom­i­nal pain, and heart­burn.

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