How Boswellia Treats Chronic Pain and Arthritis

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

Made from resin from a tree that grows in India, northern Africa, and the Middle East, boswellia may be used to treat chronic pain and arthritis.

Long a mainstay of Ayurvedic medicine, boswellia is now being considered in the West as a promising alternative to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs without the punishing side effects that NSAIDs can inflict on the heart and digestive tract. “Studies have shown boswellia to be analgesic, anti-arthritic, anti-asthmatic, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, cholesterol-lowering, and immunomodulating,” says Gayle Engels, special projects director for the American Botanical Council. “It can be useful in treating conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, allergic rhinitis, asthma, cystic fibrosis, gout, liver cirrhosis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and psoriasis.”

Boswellia’s Power Source

Boswellia—also known as Indian frankincense—is obtained from the Boswellia serrata tree, which grows in India, Northern Africa, and the Middle East. Purified before use, the gum resin from the trunk of the tree contains four triterpenic acids (called boswellic acids) that specifically inhibit pro-inflammatory enzymes. A clinical study on patients with osteoarthritis of the knee found reduced pain and improved joint function in as little as seven days.

Use Boswellia Right

For chronic pain or arthritis, the suggested dosage ranges from 250 to 400 milligrams of boswellia (standardized to at least 60 percent), taken one to three times daily with meals. Certain trials have used substantially higher doses. “Since many of the conditions helped by boswellia require the care of a health provider,” says Engels. “It is important to work with someone who is knowledgeable about the appropriate use of this plant.”

Boswellia Side Effects

Boswellia has few, if any, side effects or drug interactions. As a precaution, avoid taking boswellia during pregnancy or nursing, or for periods longer than eight to 12 weeks unless otherwise directed.

Try These Products

Nature’s Answer Boswellia 
$24.99/90 400-mg vegetarian capsules standardized to 65 percent;

Nature’s Formulary Boswellia 
$19/60 230-mg vegetarian capsules standardized to 65 percent;

Trending on Vegetarian Times