What is Boswellia serrata Extract?
Boswellia (Boswellia serrata) is also known as boswella, Indian frankincense, or shallaki. An extract of the plant’s gum resin is sometimes called boswellin. Boswellin was historically burned as incense. Boswella also used in Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine remedies.
Extracts from Boswellia serrata, a similar species to the variety famous for its role in the Christian nativity, were tested on dozens of patients.
Those who received it reported better movement and less pain and stiffness.
The herb has been used for thousands of years in Chinese medicine, reports the journal Arthritis Research and Therapy.
Current treatments carry a great many adverse effects, and scientists have been hunting for an alternative.
The investigation into the properties of Boswellia serrata was led by Dr Siba Raychaudhuri at the University of California, Davis.
Eventually they tested an extract of the plant enriched with the chemical — AKBA — thought to be its active ingredient.
Some of the 70 patients with severe arthritis in their knees recruited into the trial were given a low-dose capsule, some a higher dose capsule, and the remainder were given a dummy pill with no active ingredients.
In as little as seven days, patients taking the frankincense drug reported improvements in their pain and stiffness levels compared with the placebo group, and these continued until the 90-day mark, when the study ended.
Tests of the fluid within affected joints also revealed falls in levels of enzymes linked to the condition.
Dr Raychaudhuri said: «We have shown that B. serrata enriched with AKBA can be an effective treatment for osteoarthritis of the knee.»
«This report on treating knee pain with a chemical derivative of B. serrata is interesting but the patient numbers are small, there were some problems with the reported trial design and we need more information on its medium to long-term safety.»
Chemical constituents of Boswellia serrata Extract
Marker constituent: Boswellic acid (11-keto-β-boswellic and, acetyl-11-keto β-boswellic acid, β-boswellic acid, acetyl β-boswellic acid).
It also contains many tetracyclic triterpene acids viz., 3-α acetoxytirucal-8, 24-dien-21-oic acid, 3-ketotirucall-8, 24-dien-21-oic acid etc; sugars viz., D-galactose, D-arabinosa, D-xylose and D-mannose; volatile oil; uronic acids.
Benefits of taking Boswellia serrata Extract supplements:
Boswellia serrata ancient times, been largely used as an antiallergic, anti-inflammatory and analgesic medicine. Recent discoveries in the pharmacology of the plant have made its application possible in gastroenterology, oncology and pneumology, as well as in some other clinical fields.
Boswellia Serrata is an ancient Ayurvedic herb from India and known among herbalists as a treatment for arthritis. It is also beneficial in helping inflammation and joint health. Extracts of boswellia serrata have natural anti-inflammatory activity at sites where chronic inflammation is present by switching off pro-inflammatory cytokines and mediators, which initiate the process. Analysis of the ingredients of these extracts revealed that the pentacyclic triterpenes boswellic acids possess biological activities and appear to be responsible for the respective pharmacological actions.
Boswellia serrata extract for the treatment of collagenous colitis. A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, multicenter trial.
Int J Colorectal Dis. 2007; Madisch A, Miehlke S, Eichele O, Bethke B, Kuhlisch E, Btlein E, Wilhelms G, Morgner A, Wigginghaus B, Stolte M. Medical Department I, Technical University Hospital, Dresden, Germany.
The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of Boswellia serrata extract on symptoms, quality of life, and histology in patients with collagenous colitis. Patients with chronic diarrhea and histologically proven collagenous colitis were randomized to receive either oral Boswellia serrata extract 400 mg three times daily for 6 weeks or placebo. Complete colonoscopy and histology were performed before and after treatment. Our study suggests that Boswellia serrata extract might be clinically effective in patients with collagenous colitis
Boswellia and asthma
Effects of Boswellia serrata gum resin in patients with bronchial asthma: results of a double-blind, placebo-controlled, 6-week clinical study.
Planta Med. 2004; Sterk V, Bhele B. Department of Pharmacology of Natural Products & Clinical Pharmacology, University of Ulm, Ulm, Germany.
In this study we investigated the effects of concomitant food intake on the bioavailability of distinct boswellic acids from the test preparation BSE-018, a dry extract from Boswellia serrata gum resin. In a randomised, open, single-dose, two-way crossover study, healthy male subjects received three capsules of BSE-018 equivalent to 786 mg dry extract of Boswellia serrata gum resin either in the fasted state or together with a standardised high-fat meal. Boswellic acid plasma concentrations were analysed for up to 60 h after oral dosing. As compared to the fasted state, the administration of BSE-018 concomitantly with a high-fat meal led to several-fold increased areas under the plasma concentration-time curves as well as peak concentrations of beta-boswellic acid, 11-keto-beta-boswellic acid and acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid.
Boswellia and osteoarthritis
Efficacy and tolerability of Boswellia serrata extract in treatment of osteoarthritis of knee—a randomized double blind placebo controlled trial.
Phytomedicine. 2003; Kimmatkar N, Thawani V, Hingorani L. MS Orthopedics, Indira Gandhi Medical College, Nagpur, India.
Boswellia serrata tree is commonly found in India. The therapeutic value of its gum (guggulu) has been known. It posses good anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic and analgesic activity. A randomized double blind placebo controlled crossover study was conducted to assess the efficacy, safety and tolerability of Boswellia serrata Extract in 30 patients of osteoarthritis of knee, 15 each receiving active drug or placebo for eight weeks. After the first intervention, washout was given and then the groups were crossed over to receive the opposite intervention for eight weeks. All patients receiving the herbal treatment reported decrease in knee pain, increased knee flexion and increased walking distance. The frequency of swelling in the knee joint was decreased. Radiologically there was no change. The observed differences between drug treated and placebo being statistically significant, are clinically relevant. Boswellia serrata Extract was well tolerated by the subjects except for minor gastrointestinal symptoms. Boswellia serrata Extract is recommended in the patients of osteoarthritis of the knee with possible therapeutic use in other arthritis.
BMJ. 2008; Ernst E. Complementary Medicine, Peninsula Medical School, Universities of Exeter and Plymouth, Exeter, UK.
All randomised clinical trials of Boswellia serrata extract as a treatment for any human medical condition were included and studies of Boswellia serrata preparations combined with other ingredients were excluded. Of 47 potentially relevant studies, seven met all inclusion criteria (five placebo controlled, two with active controls). The included trials related to asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, osteoarthritis, and collagenous colitis. Results of all trials indicated that Boswellia serrata extracts were clinically effective. Three studies were of good methodological quality. No serious safety issues were noted. The evidence for the effectiveness of Boswellia serrata extracts is encouraging but not compelling.
Side effects and safety of Boswellia serrata Extract
Some rare and typically mild side effects that you might experience while taking boswellia extract include rashes, diarrhea and nausea.
No major boswellia serrata side effects have been mentioned in medical journals.
To treat osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, you might take boswellia extracts standardized to contain 150mg of boswellic acids three times daily, states the University of Michigan Health System. This would work out to be 300mg to 400mg of boswellia extract that contains 37.5 percent boswellic acids, taken three times daily, according to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Consult your doctor to discuss a proper dosage of boswellia serrata extract before taking the herb.