The Power of Boswellia for Inflammation
Many people today are plagued with chronic pain and inflammation. A diet heavy on sugar and low on nutrients, lifestyle, and a constant barrage of stressors that the body is not equipped to handle on a 24/7 basis can result in high levels of inflammation. Understand that it’s normal to have an inflammatory reaction to, for instance, accidentally burning your finger on a hot stove. But that acute protective reaction of pain, redness and swelling is temporary. When it comes to chronic pain and inflammation, this reaction is long-term – the body stays “stuck” in that protective mode.
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is a protective response that involves immune cells, blood vessels, and molecular mediators. The purpose of inflammation is to eliminate the initial cause of cell injury, clear out necrotic cells and tissues damaged from the original insult and the inflammatory process, and to initiate tissue repair. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inflammation)
So inflammation is a good thing in the case of an acute situation like a burnt finger. It is the body’s well-orchestrated means to assure that we do the right things necessary for survival when faced with an injury or harmful stimulus. When the inflammation continues over time, however, immune cells, blood vessels, and the autonomic nervous system become burdened and, as a result, the body no longer works as it should.
Examples of Acute Inflammation
- Infections: parasitic, viral, bacterial, fungal
- Injury or trauma
- Foreign bodies: splinters, sutures, dirt
- Immune reactions: hypersensitivity
Examples of Chronic Inflammation
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Autoimmune Disease
- Pulmonary Disease
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Relief from Inflammation: Boswellia versus NSAIDs
Through the years it has become rather commonplace to look to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen for relief from pain and inflammation. These drugs suppress our body’s response to pain, many times quite quickly and effectively. That said, they don’t do anything to help heal the body, in fact just the opposite: they can be quite toxic to our health, especially over the long-term. The cool thing is that there are several very effective, well-researched alternatives out there, one of them being Boswellia (also known as Frankincense).
Boswellia compounds that offer anti-inflammatory and pain support are found in the Boswellia serrata tree, a rather large tree found in the dry, high-altitude areas of the Middle East, India and North Africa. Within the gummy resin of this tree (collected via incisions made along the bark and then dried), is one of the most well-known compounds that Boswellia has to offer: AKBA (3-O-acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid), known for its anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and pain relieving properties. Although it hasn’t been until relatively recently that Boswellia and its compounds have become a focus of scientific studies, these extracts have been used safely for thousands of years to treat all types of inflammatory conditions.
A Summary of Various Anti-inflammatory Compounds in Boswellia
- AKBA decreases inflammation by inhibiting the 5-LOX (5-lipoxygenase) enzyme which, in turn, hinders the biosynthesis of inflammatory signaling molecules known as leukotrienes.
- Incensole acetate inhibits the master inflammatory regulatory complex, NF-kappaB, which slows the development of chronic inflammation throughout the body.
- Incensole acetate is a powerful brain protector with antidepressant, anti-anxiety, and other positive support for behavior.
- Boswellia extracts inhibit pro-inflammatory cytokines and mediators such as tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-a), interleukin-1, beta (IL-1 b), and interleukin-6 (IL-6).
- Boswellia extracts produce a marked down-regulation of interferon-gamma (IFN-g), an activator of inflammatory T-lymphocytes.
So the one-dimensional effect of NSAIDs is outdone by the plethora of anti-inflammatory actions of Boswellia, each compound influencing a variety of inflammatory processes within the body. As a result, Boswellia may not only be a safer alternative to NSAID therapy for pain and inflammation, but it is quickly proving to be as, or even more, effective than NSAIDs.
The Far-Reaching Effects of Boswellia
Both animal and human studies on the benefits of Boswellia for inflammation have resulted in encouraging findings on many fronts. When it comes to arthritis, the amazing compounds within Boswellia have proven to improve pain scores and physical function, as well as improve the condition of inflamed joints! So Boswellia helps ease symptoms and supports the healing power of your body. You can’t beat that combination.
But inflammation manifests in all different ways in the human body, not just arthritis. Can Boswellia help other inflammation-based issues? You bet it can. Check out the following issues for which Boswellia offers effective support:
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Neuroprotection including:
- traumatic brain injury
- stroke and age-related brain change
- memory improvement
- Cancer including:
- Reduction in the amount of precancerous intestinal polyps.
- Boswellia triggers early cancer cell death and tumor regression.
- Boswellia has the ability to change the way genes are expressed or suppressed, leading to an increase in tumor suppressor genes.
- AKBA has been found to downregulate the receptor in pancreatic cancer cells that is responsible for metastasis.
- AKBA was able to reduce the occurrence of metastases to the liver, lungs, and spleen in mice implanted with human colorectal cancers.
- Boswellia extracts are also showing promise in management of existing brain tumors through the reduction of swelling following radiation treatment.
Summing It All Up
Chronic inflammation is a serious health problem for many, manifested in health issues from arthritis to cancer and everything in between. Diet and lifestyle play huge roles in the level of inflammation present in the body, and a holistic program that addresses these variables as well as digestion, detoxification and stress modulation, is necessary to reduce or eliminate this issue. Along with that foundational support, it’s exciting to know that there are plant compounds, Boswellia being one, that target the inflammatory pathways of the body to inhibit and help heal the root cause of pain and inflammation.
Remember, this post really just touches on the benefits of Boswellia and the details behind its actions. If you would like more information, schedule a 30-minute free breakthrough phone session with me or send me an email to find out more.
If you would like to purchase Boswellia, there are two that I have tried and can personally recommend: Life Extension brand 5-LOX Inhibitor or Integrative Therapeutics brand Curcumax Pro (the latter also includes Curcumin, another powerful anti-inflammatory.) If you live in the US, you can purchase either of these through my online dispensary. See below.
Thanks for stopping by!
- Boswellia serrata, a potential antiinflammatory agent: an overview.
- Ammon, H. P. “Boswellic acids in chronic inflammatory diseases.” Planta medica 72.12 (2006): 1100.
- Gayathri, B., et al. “Pure compound from Boswellia serrata extract exhibits anti-inflammatory property in human PBMCs and mouse macrophages through inhibition of TNFα, IL-1β, NO and MAP kinases.” International immunopharmacology 7.4 (2007): 473-482.
- Sharma, A., et al. “Anti-inflammatory and analgesic activity of different fractions of Boswellia serrata.” International journal of phytomedicine 2.1 (2010).
- Liu, Jian-Jun, et al. “Boswellic acids trigger apoptosis via a pathway dependent on caspase-8 activation but independent on Fas/Fas ligand interaction in colon cancer HT-29 cells.” Carcinogenesis 23.12 (2002): 2087-2093.
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