- Indications with possible efficacy:
- Indications with possible, but poorly documented, efficacy:
- Other indications with no proof of efficacy:
- Risk of Drug Interactions: Low
- Adverse Effects: Rare
Part of the plant used: gum resin extracted from its bark
The Boswellia tree grows in dry, mountainous parts of India. It has been used for thousands of years in traditional Indian medicine to cure several diseases. Indian frankincense's anti-inflammatory activity appears to result from the presence of boswellic acid and its derivatives, which have effects similar to traditional nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs). However, long-term Indian frankincense use does not appear to be associated with gastric irritation or ulceration. In addition, its anti-inflammatory activity has been studied in some animals: these studies have shown that Indian frankincense has marked anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritis effects without significant adverse effects.The active principles appear to inhibit lipooxygenase-5, a major enzyme involved in the synthesis of leukotriene. These leukotrienes act as mediators of the inflammatory process.
Direction of use
Usual dosage: 200 to 400 mg (extract standardized to 30% boswellic acid) 3 times a day.
There is insufficient reliable information to conclude that Indian frankincense is effective in any other indication.
- Side effects
Indian frankincense is not associated with any particular toxicity. Cases of diarrhea, stomach pain, skin rash and nausea have been reported.
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Since there no safety data available concerning its use during pregnancy and breast-feeding, pregnant and lactating women should not take Indian frankincense.
- The constituents of Indian frankincense (the resin obtained from the boswellia tree), boswellic acid and derivatives, have significant anti-inflammatory activity. Even though current data cannot confirm with certainty that this product is helpful in the treatment of arthritis and ulcerative colitis, they do appear promising. In addition, Indian frankincense has a reassuring adverse effect profile.
In 2004, Canada adopted new regulations that control the manufacturing, packaging, labeling and importing of natural health products. The new regulations also include an adverse reaction reporting system. Products that conform to the regulation's criteria are identified with a natural product number (NPN) and can be legally sold in Canada. This number indicates that the product meets specific criteria for safety and purity, not that it is effective for any indication.
Medicinal plant contents vary naturally from plant to plant - just as fruits from the same package may vary in taste and texture. There is no standard to measure the active content of each plant. Thus, efficacy of natural products should be expected to vary from brand to brand as well as from bottle to bottle of the same brand.
For more information about the Natural Health Products Regulations, or to check if a product has been assessed, visit the Health Canada website at www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/prodnatur/index-eng.php.
- Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, Therapeutic Research Faculty, 2010
- Lininger S. et Al. The Natural Pharmacy, Prima Health, 1998
- Facts and Comparisons, The review of Natural Products, 2000
- Lexi-comp, Natural Therapeutics Pocket Guide, 2000-2001
- Passeportsanté.net. Boswellie. www.passeportsante.net
- The Review of Natural Products, 6th Edition, 2010
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