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Anti-Inflammatory Supplements for Joints: Boswellia

Approximately one out of every four American adults suffers from some form of arthritis and live with joint pain and stiffness as a result. Increasingly, doctors recognize the benefits of using natural anti-inflammatory supplements in conjunction with medications and other interventions to ease symptoms of the disease and support health. Boswellia is quickly becoming one of the most popular anti-inflammatory supplements for arthritis, but what is it, and does it help? Read on for the facts on Boswellia benefits.

What Is Boswellia?

Boswellia is an herb derived from the Boswellia serrata tree. Also known as Indian frankincense, Boswellia extract has been used as a natural remedy in Africa and Asia for centuries. Science is beginning to verify that taking a supplement containing the boswellia tree extract may have anti inflammatory benefits.

How Does Boswellia Help with Inflammation?

So is Boswellia good for inflammation? The answer seems to be yes, and lab studies seem to have revealed the reason why taking Boswellia for pain and inflammation may be beneficial. Scientists believe that the observed Boswellia extract benefits for inflammation are due to substances in the Boswellia herb collectively called boswellic acid.

Natural Anti-Inflammatory Supplements

Although scientists disagree about which of the acids found in Boswellia serrata extract is primarily responsible for the action, they generally believe that boswellic acid addresses inflammation by interfering with the production of leukotrienes, molecules that the immune system releases. When this occurs, inflammation develops. A Boswellia supplement may lessen inflammation by interrupting this process.

What Is Boswellia Good For?

Based on its anti-inflammatory properties, researchers note the following potential Boswellia health benefits:

  • Reduction of pain in people with arthritis. One study found that people with osteoarthritis of the knee who took a Boswellia serrata arthritis supplement experienced decreased pain and increased mobility. Another Boswellia arthritis study found that mobility increased proportionately with a Boswellia serrata supplement dosage. Research into Boswellia and rheumatoid arthritis treatment have shown that the herb may reduce joint swelling.
  • Improved management of inflammatory bowel diseases. In addition to potentially being an effective choice of anti-inflammatory supplements for joints, frankincense Boswellia may also ease symptoms of digestive disorders like Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
  • Fewer symptoms of asthma. The benefits of Boswellia for inflammation reduction may make it a potential complementary treatment for asthma, a respiratory condition shown to be caused by the actions of leukotrienes in the respiratory tract.
  • Lower blood pressure levels. Findings of Boswellia blood pressure studies suggest that the herb may improve circulation and help reduce blood pressure levels in people with hypertension.

Are There Any Boswellia Side Effects?

Even the best Boswellia supplement may pose a risk for side effects due to the properties of the herb. Some reported side effects of taking Boswellia for joints and other conditions include:

  • Heavier menstrual flow
  • Nausea
  • Acid reflux
  • Diarrhea
  • Skin rashes
  • Allergic reaction
  • Miscarriage

In addition, you may not be able to take Indian frankincense for arthritis and other conditions if you take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), as the supplement may interact with these medications.

How Much Boswellia Should I Take for Arthritis?

Experts don't entirely agree on the optimal dosage of Boswellia for arthritis. The most common dosage of Boswellia for joint health is 300 to 500 milligrams taken three times per day.

How To Use Boswellia for Joint Pain

Follow these tips on how to use Boswellia for arthritis to ensure the best results:

  • Talk to your doctor. Your health care provider can help you decide if anti-inflammatory herbal supplements are right for you. In some cases, your doctor may suggest that you take a combination of joint health supplements, such as a turmeric Boswellia combo. They can also recommend the best dose of Boswellia for you to take. Also, ask your doctor how long you should keep taking Boswellia and if you should continue using other treatments for arthritis along with the herb.
  • Follow the manufacturer's guidelines. Unless your doctor gives you other advice, follow the directions that appear on the supplement label that you purchase.
  • Choose a supplement over essential oil. Generally, you should avoid taking essential oils by mouth even if they are food grade. Most studies into the benefits of Boswellia for joint health use oral supplements, so there isn't enough evidence to support applying diluted Boswellia directly to the joints for arthritis relief.
  • Compare concentrations of boswellic acid. The amount of the active chemical present in Boswellia supplements varies from product to product. Be sure to compare the levels of boswellic acid and not just the dosages.

How Long Does It Take for Boswellia to Work?

Boswellia extract usually won't relieve arthritis pain after just one dose. One study found that people needed to take the herb for at least seven days before noticing any change in their symptoms. Most people seem to see benefits within one month of use.