Frankincense essential oil: benefits, side effects, dosage

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Boswellia is an extract obtained from the gum resin of Boswellia serrata , a branched tree native to Africa and Arabia. Boswellia, also known as Indian frankincense or olibanum, is widely used in Ayurveda .

Boswellia is rich in boswellic acids, substances that can have anti-inflammatory effects.

What is Boswellia used for?

Boswellia serrata and other types of Boswellia are used in essential oils or burned as incense. The oil is also used in food, cosmetics, soaps, and beverages.

In herbal medicine, Boswellia is sometimes taken orally or applied to the skin to treat the following conditions:

  • Asthma
  • Collagen arthritis
  • Crohn's disease
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Ulcerative colitis

Some research suggests that boswellia may have anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor effects, but large-scale independent industry clinical trials are needed.

Here are some of the findings from the available research:

Pain in osteoarthritis

In a report published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews in 2014, researchers looked at previously published trials that tested the effects of herbal supplements on osteoarthritis. Their analysis of studies involving boswellia found evidence that it reduces pain (on a pain scale). and improved physical function compared to placebo.

Asthma

A small 2015 study published in the European Review of Health and Pharmaceutical Sciences shows that boswellia may help reduce the need for inhaled therapy in people with persistent asthma. Study participants (who had mild or severe persistent asthma) received inhalation or inhalation. oral boswellia supplement therapy or inhalation therapy alone.

After four weeks of treatment, those who took the Boswellia supplement in addition to inhalation therapy required fewer inhalations compared to those who took inhalation therapy alone.

Crohn's disease

A study published in the journal Inflammatory Bowel Disease found that boswellia extract may not help people with Crohn's disease who are in remission. After 12 months of treatment with Boswellia extract, there were no significant differences in time to relapse, severity of symptoms, etc., or maintenance of remission.

Inflammatory bowel disease

In a 2007 study of 31 people with collagenous colitis (a type of inflammatory bowel disease that causes chronic diarrhea), researchers found that taking boswellia extract three times a day for six weeks was no more effective than placebo when comparing remission. clinical and laboratory studies. .., or quality of life .

Possible side effects.

Boswellia is probably safe when taken by mouth for up to six months. Boswellia is possibly safe when applied to the skin for up to five weeks. Follow your healthcare provider's instructions.

Boswellia is known to cause nausea, diarrhea, bloating, acid reflux, heartburn, and allergic reactions. This can stimulate blood flow in the uterus. Boswellia should not be taken by pregnant or lactating women.

Boswellia can interact with medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and P-glycoprotein (P-Gp) substrate medications, so be sure to check with your doctor before using them. If you have gastritis or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), you may not be able to take Boswellia.

Two case reports describe a dangerously high INR (a test used to measure blood clotting) in people taking warfarin (Coumadin), a type of drug often called a "blood thinner." Boswellia was considered a probable cause in both cases.

If you are taking any blood thinners or have a medical condition that affects blood clotting, be sure to check with your doctor before taking Boswellia. It should not be taken within two weeks after a scheduled surgery.

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Dosage and preparation

There is no recommended dose for Boswellia. Various dosages have been used in studies looking at the various health benefits of boswellia.

For example, for osteoarthritis research: 100-1000 mg of Boswellia extract or 300-600 mg of Boswellia extract were used daily in combination with other herbs. And the ulcerative colitis was treated with 350 mg three times a day for six weeks .

A cream containing 2% boswellia was used in a study on the effects of the herb on the skin during radiation therapy. The cream was applied twice a day during radiation therapy .

What to look for

Available in many health food stores, Boswellia is sold in supplement form and in formulas that contain curcumin (turmeric) and other herbs.

The quality and purity of Boswellia supplements is an issue. Due to the fact that food additives are largely unregulated, the content of some products may differ from what is stated on the product label.

For example, Boswellia products have been found to contain none of the six boswellic acids (which are considered active ingredients), suggesting the use of other species in place of Boswellia serrata.

While some natural approaches can help reduce inflammation, it is important not to delay treatment or stop taking prescribed treatments, as certain conditions can have longer-term health consequences if not treated properly.

If you have an inflammatory condition, your symptoms can interfere with your daily activities. You may be looking for ways to cope with pain and find relief.

Although Boswellia is promising under certain conditions, more studies based on large-scale clinical trials are still needed to confirm these effects. If you're still thinking about trying boswellia, first talk to your doctor to see if it's right (and safe) for you and if it could be part of your treatment plan, possibly in combination with other herbs with anti-inflammatory properties … like ginger and turmeric .

Frequently asked questions

  • Since ancient times, the universal extract has been used in:

    • Religious rites
    • Perfumes and cosmetics (thanks to the distinctive aroma of essential oils in the resin)
    • Traditional medicine (especially Ayurveda) for the treatment of a number of conditions, especially inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, colitis , and asthma; swelling of the brain; and radiation damaged skin

  • This is likely if you are not taking any medications that can interact with it, such as some NSAIDs and Coumadin ( warfarin ). Women who are pregnant, nursing, or with GERD probably shouldn't take Boswellia at all.

  • In studies, people with arthritis had less joint pain and swelling for just seven days after taking Boswellia under observation. It is important to note that the supplement has not been studied thoroughly enough to guarantee such rapid results.

  • There is no standard dose of Boswellia for any disease, as foods that contain it vary widely. However, some studies suggest taking 300 milligrams (mg) to 400 mg three times a day of an extract containing 60% boswellic acids for inflammatory conditions or asthma.

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