Boswellia Resin

Natural health practices have used boswellia for centuries to treat various chronic inflammatory disorders. The scientific research on boswellia is less developed, but it is beginning to unveil potential uses for the resin and its extracts.

Boswellia and its active ingredients, such as boswellic acid, appear to have a good anti-inflammatory effect on the body, according to a review article.

The following sections discuss the evidence behind its potential benefits for inflammatory health conditions.

Rheumatoid arthritis
Inflammation around the joints is the leading cause of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) symptoms. Many treatments for RA, which include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and steroids, focus on reducing inflammation.

Boswellia appears to be effective in reducing inflammation, so it may also lessen the symptoms of RA.

The Arthritis Foundation recommend boswellic acid capsules as a potential therapy for RA, as well as for osteoarthritis.

The authors of a 2019 study suggested that an active extract of boswellia may help reduce inflammation in people with RA. However, this study used rats, so the results may not apply to humans.

In this animal model, the anti-inflammatory effect of boswellia was less significant than that of a standard prescription medication called indomethacin. However, the researchers noted that the extract might be useful as a complementary therapy to support traditional RA treatment.

Cancer and cancer therapy
A 2016 review paper reports that boswellic acids might have antitumor properties and be toxic to cancerous cells. The authors conclude that this could make them helpful in future cancer treatments, though clinical trials are necessary to confirm this.

A recent study in the journal Oncotarget also found that the essential oil from boswellia impaired aggressive skin cancer cells without harming healthy skin cells. However, the researchers used cells and animal models.

While these early results seem promising, more research in humans needs to expand on these initial findings to determine how boswellia may help with cancer therapy.

Inflammatory bowel disease
Boswellia may help treat symptoms of IBD.
The anti-inflammatory effects of boswellia may also be beneficial for people with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

A study in the World Journal of Gastroenterology looked into the action of these compounds. In animal models, boswellic acids improved markers of IBD without causing adverse effects on the surrounding organs. They may, therefore, prove to be a useful supportive treatment for these chronic conditions.

Again, this is early research, and research in humans will need to back up these findings before experts can make any recommendations.

Boswellic acid may also have a role in asthma treatment. Research findings have shown that boswellic acid suppresses inflammation in the airways and inhibits the secretion of cytokines, which are markers that lead to inflammation.

Thus, boswellic acid appears to block off the allergic response that causes an asthma reaction in the first place.

In the future, this may make boswellia a helpful complementary treatment for asthma. For now, researchers need to focus on working toward studies in humans.

Parkinson’s disease
A 2019 study found that boswellia may be a helpful tool in medical efforts to treat Parkinson’s disease.

In animal models, boswellia had an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effect, which appeared to protect neurons in the brain and improve motor function in a rat model of Parkinson’s disease.

However, this is early research that needs backing from studies involving humans.