A Closer Look at the Benefits and Side-Effects of Boswellia: Is it the Herbal Supplement You Need?
Boswellia serrata is a wondrous herb, actively used for its several benefits in Ayurveda, and various other disciplines of herbal medicine. The list of proposed natural wonders is long, but very few herbs have as much scientific evidence to back them up as Boswellia. Let’s take a look at what the research data suggests, and how we can expect to benefit by taking Boswellia supplements.
Benefit: Reduces Inflammation in Patients Suffering from Osteoarthritis (OA)
Reducing joint pain and bringing down inflammation, which inhibits movement, are the main benefits of Boswellia. The herbal extracts have been extensively studied to find out whether there is any scientific evidence to suggest that Boswellia has potent anti-inflammatory properties. Even the most conservative of those studies did not deny Boswellia’s impressive anti-inflammatory properties, as well as its ability to improve the lives of those suffering from OA.
Benefit: Inhibits Secretion of Arachidonate 5-Lipoxygenase (5-LOX)
Boosted leukotriene levels are directly responsible for causing or worsening various inflammatory conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, allergic reactions and asthma. Research points to the fact that the highest grade Boswellia supplement contains herbal compounds that inhibit arachidonate 5-lipoxygenase secretion. In the absence of excess 5-LOX enzymes, the leukotriene production rate also drops quite significantly, bringing relief to people suffering from OA, RA, asthma, etc.
Benefit: Effective in Countering the Effects of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
As a 5-LOX enzyme inhibitor, Boswellia is effective in bringing down the pain and swelling caused by RA. This in turn, helps patients in leading a more active life, where they can move about without constant pain. However, there is more to why Boswellia acids are effective against RA than just the herb’s anti-inflammatory effects.
Evidence has been found to suggest that Boswellia also counteracts the erratic autoimmune response that leads to rheumatoid arthritis. Ongoing supplementation with Boswellia can keep severe episodes of RA at bay by keeping an overactive immune system balanced.
Potential Benefit: Moderately Effective against Inflammatory Bowel Diseases
It has been suggested that Boswellia supplements might be effective against IBD, and there is mixed evidence to support that theory. Nevertheless, H15 (Boswellia extract) is confirmed as being very effective in controlling Crohn’s disease. The only issue is that the positive effects are not consistent in their efficacy for all patients or IBDs.
This means that while Boswellia may work particularly well in controlling painful symptoms in patients with Crohn’s disease, it might only be mildly useful for other patients with UC. Impressively, H15 has been deemed to be just as effective in treating Crohn’s disease as the prescription drug mesalamine. In fact, the study also states that due to a lack of side-effects caused by mesalamine, Boswellia can be considered a better alternative.
Side Effect: Boswellia is Unsuitable for Pregnant Women
Boswellia extracts and supplements are completely unsuitable for women who:
- have a history of menstruation cycles with heavy bleeding.
- are trying to get pregnant.
- are already pregnant.
Normally, increased uterine and pelvic blood circulation can improve health conditions in women, but not when any of the mentioned instances are applicable.
Side Effect: Rare Instances of Acidity, Rashes, and Nausea
In rare instances, people have reported experiencing acidity, rashes, nausea, and diarrhea from taking Boswellia supplements. However, allergic reactions against compounds known to have antiallergic properties are quite rare, albeit not unheard of. It is suggested to try the supplement in small doses for the first week to see if they notice any side effects. Not all supplements are created in the same way, so changing the brand to one that only uses the highest grade Boswellia extracts might help. If the symptoms continue, the supplement should be stopped immediately.
Side Effect: Complicated Drug Interactions
As long as an herbal medicine has any real medicinal property to it, then some drug interactions are unavoidable. Since Boswellia is indeed effective, people should avoid non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) commonly used as painkillers (aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, etc.), while using Boswellia supplements. Also, it goes without saying that those with chronic conditions should always consult their physician first, before starting on anything new and not just Boswellia.
Additionally, Boswellia may also reduce our chances of developing certain types of cancer, although the connection has not yet been established beyond rats. On the other hand, it can be concluded with confidence that people suffering from osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and asthma could see impressive improvements from Boswellia supplementation. By now, if Boswellia is really something that you can benefit from, it should be quite evident.