Boswellia
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Boswellia Overview

Written by FoundHealth.

The gummy resin of the boswellia tree has a long history of use in Indian herbal medicine as a treatment for arthritis, bursitis, respiratory diseases, and diarrhea.

What Is the Scientific Evidence for Boswellia?

Rheumatoid Arthritis

According to a review of unpublished studies, preliminary double-blind trials have found boswellia effective in relieving the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis . 1 Two placebo-controlled studies, involving a total of 81 people with rheumatoid arthritis, reportedly found significant reductions in swelling and pain over the course of 3 months. In addition, a comparative study of 60 people over 6 months found that boswellia extract produced symptomatic benefits comparable to oral gold therapy. However, this review was rather sketchy on details.

A more recent double-blind, placebo-controlled study that enrolled 78 people with rheumatoid arthritis found no benefit. 2 However, about half of the patients dropped out, which seriously diminishes the significance of the results.

Asthma

A 6-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 80 people with relatively mild asthma found that treatment with boswellia at a dose of 300 mg 3 times daily reduced the frequency of asthma attacks and improved objective measurements of breathing capacity. 3

Osteoarthritis

In a double-blind study of 30 people with osteoarthritis of the knee, researchers compared boswellia against placebo. 4 Participants received either boswellia or placebo for 8 weeks and were then switched over to the opposite treatment for an additional 8 weeks. The results showed significantly greater improvement in knee pain, knee mobility, and walking distance with boswellia compared to placebo.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

An 8-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 102 people with Crohn’s disease compared a standardized boswellia extract against the drug mesalazine. 5 Participants taking boswellia fared at least as well as those taking mesalazine, according to a standard score of Crohn’s disease severity. A small, poorly designed trial found some indications that boswellia might also offer benefit in ulcerative colitis . 6

Dosage

A typical dose of boswellia is 300 to 400 mg 3 times a day of an extract standardized to contain 37.5% boswellic acids. Some studies have used dosages as high as 1,200 mg 3 times daily.

References

  1. Etzel R. Special extract of Boswellia serrata (H 15) in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Phytomedicine. 1996;3:91-94.
  2. Sander O, Herborn G, Rau R. [Is H15 (resin extract of Boswellia serrata, "incense") a useful supplement to established drug therapy of chronic polyarthritis? Results of a double-blind pilot study] Z Rheumatol. 57(1):11-6.
  3. Gupta I, Gupta V, Parihar A, et al. Effects of Boswellia serrata gum resin in patients with bronchial asthma: results of a double-blind, placebo-controlled, 6-week clinical study. Eur J Med Res. 1998;3:511-514.
  4. Kimmatkar N, Thawani V, Hingorani L, Khiyani R. Efficacy and tolerability of Boswellia serrata extract in treatment of osteoarthritis of knee--a randomized double blind placebo controlled trial. Phytomedicine. 10(1):3-7.
  5. Gerhardt H, Seifert F, Buvari P, Vogelsang H, et al. Therapy of active Crohn disease with Boswellia serrata extract H 15. Z Gastroenterol. 2001;39:11-17.
  6. Gupta I, Gupta V, Parihar A, et al. Effects of Boswellia serrata gum resin in patients with bronchial asthma: results of a double-blind, placebo-controlled, 6-week clinical study. Eur J Med Res. 1998;3:511-514.
 
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