Written By Liz Oakes
Boswellia extract has been in use since ancient times to give pain relief.
Biblical references to its common name, Indian frankincense, tell us that this valuable resin was traded along with myrrh.
This herb was utilized for its powerful properties to give pain relief, as well as being used to make incense, cosmetics and skin care products.
Remember the three wise men and the biblical story of how they brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the baby Jesus?
These days it is used to relieve the pain of joint inflammation, as well as aiding many types of arthritis and to provide pain relief for gout.
Boswellia extract has been in use in India for centuries, as it was highly regarded in ayurvedic healing.
It is mentioned in the old Testament of the bible, it is found in ancient Egyptian writings.
The resin that came from this tree became very valuable and was traded by ancient people. It is believed that its use dates back to at least 5000 years ago.
One of the many uses was to burn the resin as incense on the altars of the ancient Hebrew church.
This idea was outlawed by the early Roman church until it was again brought into use by the Crusaders, and again used for religious purposes.
The Boswellia gum has been burnt for thousands of years, as the incense aids in purifying the air.
But did you know that scientists in Israel have now proven that it also has the effect of an antidepressant and anxiolytic effect which may help you to relax better?
It also helps to kill mosquitoes and therefore helps to stop the spread of malaria.
The type of frankincense known as dhup or dhoop which comes from the variety called Boswellia Serrata, is the variety used in India for traditional healing. This is the kind used when preparing herbal remedies.
The value of this herb has been well known since ancient times, and this was because Indian Frankincense was, and still is an extremely precious gum resin.
One role of this herbal resin has been as a remedy used in ayurvedic healing, as it is an excellent treatment for many types of pain.
There are a number of varieties of Boswellia trees that the resin comes from, and all of these grow in rather inhospitable regions, in areas such as deserts where other trees do not grow very well.
Many countries in the middle east have Boswellia trees growing, and they are milked for their sap, as they have been by the locals for thousands of years.
They do this by cutting a slot in the tree trunk so that sap runs out, and they gather it after it has hardened.
There are a number of different qualities of the gum, and many are used in the skin care and perfume industries.
It is only the top quality gum of the Boswellia Serrata tree that is used to make the resin that is made into the extract used in herbal medicine.
When the resin is of the highest purest quality, it can also be eaten, but this edible variety must be completely translucent with no black or brown impurities present.
Fortunately most of us can now buy the Boswellia extract made into herbal remedies where the purity and potency is guaranteed as they are produced from the raw gum by biochemists under laboratory conditions.
Researchers in many countries have been looking at the properties of this highly respected herb, and have been discovering the many ways that it may be utilized for healing.
There are a number of uses for Boswellia extract, many are well known, and as researchers, doctors and natural healers continue using it, more new uses and healing attributes are being discovered.
The list of Boswellia uses that have been documented include:
The most well known use for Boswellia extract is to aid arthritis, as it has an excellent action to help you if you have bad arthritic pain.
Its most common use is to assist sufferers of osteoarthritis, because it has an excellent action as a natural pain killer.
Researchers have discovered that its active ingredients, which are referred to as boswellic acids have a powerful anti inflammatory action, making it one of the better anti inflammatory herbs.
This is why it is well known as one of the best herbs that help joint pain.
These boswellic acids also increase blood supply to inflamed joints and help to repair any damage that was caused by the inflammation.
The action of its active ingredients is believed to prevent inflammatory white cells from getting into damaged tissue.
These acids help to deactivate the hormones that trigger both inflammation and pain in sufferers of arthritis, and also help to shrink the inflamed swollen tissues by stimulating the growth of cartilage.
It is also said to be effective for fibromyalgia pain relief, and its action to aid this painful condition now makes it one of the fibromyalgia herbs that are suggested to aid this condition.
Boswellia is also a good remedy to assist inflammation in the gut, and is particularly helpful to treat Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, but you do have to be patient as its action can take some time to be effective in the gut.
Gout: If you have been suffering from gout and are looking for pain relief, this herb is one of the herbs for gout pain.
It is a natural health remedy that not only provides pain relief but is known to aid circulation within the affected joints and tissues.
It is also used as a treatment for bursitis and tendonitis.
These health problems are often caused by doing activities that your body is not used to doing, and the pain may be caused from using little used areas of the body.
A tendon connects the muscles with the bone and the bursa is the sac that holds fluid and is designed to provide cushioning in the joints.
Often bursitis and tendonitis pain will be in the common joints, such as the knees, shoulders, elbows or even the hips.
Unlike arthritis, this pain is not necessarily ongoing but is the result of the use of a particular body area that is not usually used.
Often these activities result from week-end activities such as sport or even home repairs that use different muscles.
Boswellia extract helps as it is known to both act as an analgesic and help to reduce inflammation.
One of the ways this herb provides carpal tunnel pain relief, is its action to block the production of leukotrienes and prostaglandin that are a major part of the inflammatory process in the body.
This is one of the traditional uses of this herb in ayurvedic medicine.
The cause of some sports injuries is also due to the use of muscles that have not been used very often and insufficient ongoing exercise before going out and playing weekend sport.
Regardless of the reason for the sports injury, if you suffer from a sprain or even a light strain, this herb can help to reduce the inflammation and ease the pain.
Boswellia cream can be used to aid this type of injury, and it can be rubbed into the painful area.
This helps the active ingredients known as boswellic acids to reach the injured area more quickly.
In the same way it is also helpful to aid carpal tunnel syndrome which can result from overuse of particular areas of the body.
This is a problem that is becoming more common as the use of computers for longer periods is now commonplace, both at home and at work. The pain in your fingers, wrist and arms caused by this health problem can be debilitating.
New ways of using the boswellia herb are being investigated and trials are being run on using it to aid a number of health issues.
The resin has long been part of the perfume and skin care industry, and only now is it also being used to make skin creams to aid pain.
These creams are said to be anti fungal and antibacterial, but until trials prove this to be true this is not proven but is simply a possibility.
Its use to aid dry and chapped skin and to rejuvenate mature skin is well known. It is effective because of its action to aid the growth of new skin cells.
Along with helping new skin cells to develop it also helps oil production in dry skin, so will help mature skin that does not produce as much natural oil as it once did.
As well there are skin creams made to aid pain relief, so it has a number of roles to help your skin.
Boswellia extract is commonly combined with other herbs to aid specific problems, and often these are found together in the one tablet.
A common natural health approach is for these remedies to contain a range of ingredients that are formulated by biochemists to aid specific problems.
Here is a list of other herbs that it is used with for particular health issues: