Boswellia is a tree resin which can be burnt as frankincense, or used for its medicinal properties. It has notable anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to be effective in reducing the pain of osteoarthritis. It is also thought to have anti-cancer potential, and has long been used in both Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine.
Boswellia serrata is the tree which produces frankincense. Boswellia commonly refers to the tree's resin, which can also be used for medicinal purposes. For thousands of years, Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine has recommended boswellia for reducing inflammation and pain.
Modern studies have shown that boswellia is effecting in reducing the pain of osteoarthritis. It is also reported to have had beneficial effects when used to treat other chronic inflammatory conditions such as asthma, ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. It appears to work by inhibiting lipoxygenase enzymes and blocking the formation of leukotrienes, inflammatory molecules.
Boswellia is currently under investigation for its potential as an alternative to NSAID painkillers.
Boswellic acid is the key active ingredient in boswellia extracts, which can be bought in tablet, capsule or tincture format. Boswellia is also available as a frankincense essential oil, which is popular in aromatherapy for stress relief and to relieve the symptoms of coughs and colds.