Today's Daily Health Tip
Boswellia Serrata – The Indian Frankincense
by Jon Barron
This week our featured ingredient has taking a journey into ancient Indian Ayurvedic medicine. Boswellia serrata, also known as the Indian version of frankincense, has been a staple of Ayurvedic medicine from time immemorial for its ability to manage inflammatory disorders. It is procured from the sap of the Bowsellia tree, a native Indian plant. It has also been used to treat arthritis, diarrhea, and pulmonary disease.
Interestingly, its medicinal use might be attributable to elephants, as it’s said that ancient Ayurvedic healers discovered its benefits by watching elephants eat boswellia. Since elephants are known for their long life and health, it is thought that the healers wanted to bring the health benefits of the tree to their patients.1 And when used as an incense, boswellia resin is reported to relieve depression and anxiety.2
Over the last few years, boswellia has attracted much attention in the world medical community because it possesses anti-inflammatory properties that are equal to prescription medications without the unpleasant/dangerous side effects. For example, research conducted in India found that an extract of boswellia was more beneficial for rheumatoid arthritis--less toxic and more potent--than the standard drug of choice at the time, benzoyl hydrotropic acid.
How It Works
Boswellia works through entirely different mechanisms than anti-inflammatory drugs. Whereas most drugs function as Cox enzyme inhibitors, boswellia works by inhibiting lipoxygenase enzymes (LOX), which are powerful contributors to inflammation and disease. By inhibiting LOX enzymes, boswellia effectively blocks leukotriene synthesis. Leukotrienes play a major role in promoting a whole host of age-associated, inflammation-related diseases including joint problems, intestinal disorders, cancer, and lung related disease.
In addition, it appears that boswellia can inhibit the breakdown of connective tissues caused by tumor necrosis factor-alpha, a potent inflammatory agent in the body.
And finally, it appears that boswellia has the ability to modulate the immune system and inhibit inflammatory activity, thereby helping with a number of autoimmune conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis.
Or to put it in simpler terms, the boswellic acids in boswellia seem to have the ability to suppress the proliferating tissue found in inflamed areas of the body and prevent the concomitant breakdown of connective tissue. In addition, boswellia has been found to improve blood supply to the joints and restore the integrity of weakened blood vessels, again with no side effects as seen with the traditional drugs of choice.
What It Means
Boswellia is a great herb for helping with inflammation related conditions -- with two caveats.
• Quality can be erratic.
• And even with standardized extracts, it takes a lot (1-3 grams per day) to get the desired effect.
Which brings us to Boswellin® PS.
Until recently, research on boswellia has focused almost exclusive on the boswellic acids, particularly AKBA (acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid) as the most active component in boswellia, and most supplements have looked to maximize that component. However, more current research has indicated that some of the water soluble polysaccharides in boswellia are also essential components in that they initiate and support the anti-inflammatory activity, whereas the lipid-soluble boswellic acids help to provide a sustained action. In fact, a particular boswellin polysaccharide extract known as Polysal has demonstrated a dose dependent anti-inflammatory potential, similar to the boswellic acids.
For this reason, Boswellin® PS now stands out as the boswellin ingredient of choice.
• It’s 100% natural.
• It has enhanced AKBA content VS regular boswellin extracts.
• But in addition to the active boswellic acids, Boswellin® PS contains Polysal, the exclusive water soluble polysaccharide components which contribute to an immediate anti-inflammatory action – perfectly complementing the more sustained action of AKBA. Polysal primarily consists of galactose, arabinose, D-glucuronic acid, and 4-o-methyl-glucuronoarabino-galactan