Chronic joint pain is one of the major health problems that reduces quality of life. Additionally, joints are the body's organs that show signs of aging first. After the age of 40, most people experience chronic joint pain centered on their fingers, wrists, knees, and shoulders.
For this reason, ingredients that are said to be good for ‘joints’ or ‘joint pain’ receive a lot of attention. In fact, joint problems are caused by a variety of causes, including infection and inflammation to autoimmune diseases. It can be problems not only with joints but also with ligaments, cartilage, and muscles, so it is important to accurately understand your joint problems and take appropriate measures.
In this context, today we would like to look at boswellia, an ingredient that is receiving a lot of attention related to joints. As many of you know, Boswellia is the resin of the frankincense tree (Boswellia serrata), which grows in dry mountainous areas of India and North Africa, and it is known to have been used for medicinal purposes since around 1500 BC .
Boswellia is said to have been mainly used to treat inflammation and infection since ancient times. Let’s take a look at what the academic research results are and how this ingredient can help with joint and health problems.
 Moussaieff, A., & Mechoulam, R. (2009). Boswellia resin: from religious ceremonies to medical uses; a review of in-vitro, in-vivo and clinical trials. Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, 61(10), 1281-1293.
1. Improves Osteoarthritis Symptoms
The most common cause of joint pain is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is an inflammatory joint disease that primarily damages joint cartilage, causing degeneration of the joint cartilage and is characterized by involvement of the entire joint tissue. This can ultimately lead to joint degeneration, fibrosis, and fractures.
Currently, the most common treatment for osteoarthritis is through non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). However, NSAIDs interfere with the synthesis of glycosaminoglycans that make up skin tissue and cartilage due to their mechanism, thus causing osteoarthritis. It may rather have a negative effect on the recovery or treatment of degenerated cartilage.
For this reason, research is continuously being conducted in academia to find effective alternatives, and one of the ingredients that has been considered as an alternative is boswellia. This is because it shows anti-inflammatory activity but does not interfere with the composition of cartilage. A 2020 study that comprehensively reviewed the results of Boswellia human application trials on osteoarthritis patients to date showed that Boswellia can be a safe adjuvant treatment for osteoarthritis.
"As a result of analyzing 7 human application tests targeting 545 patients, it was confirmed that joint pain and stiffness were alleviated and joint function was improved in the group taking Boswellia compared to the control group. To date, “Based on the evidence, Boswellia and its extracts may be an effective and safe treatment option for patients with osteoarthritis.”
Reference : Yu, G., Xiang, W., Zhang, T., Zeng, L., Yang, K., & Li, J. (2020). Effectiveness of Boswellia and Boswellia extract for osteoarthritis patients: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies, 20(1), 1-16.
2. Improves Chronic Inflammatory Bowel Disease
While introducing the previous research, I mentioned that Boswellia is being studied in academia as an alternative to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for osteoarthritis. This is based on Boswellia's unique anti-inflammatory activity that does not interfere with the synthesis of glycaminoglycan, which makes up tissues such as skin and cartilage.
Boswellia's activity does not only help with osteoarthritis. In the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease, where the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs should be limited, research is being actively conducted on alternative treatments using boswellia, targeting patients with chronic inflammatory bowel disease. A human trial conducted by Madisch, A, and researchers (2007) reported clinical improvement in colitis following the consumption of boswellia.
"Clinical improvement was seen at 6 weeks of Boswellia intake. ... In conclusion, this study suggests that intake of Boswellia serrata extract may be a clinically effective and safe treatment for patients with inflammatory bowel disease."
Reference : Madisch, A., Miehlke, S., Eichele, O., Mrwa, J., Bethke, B., Kuhlisch, E., ... & Stolte, M. (2007). Boswellia serrata extract for the treatment of collagenous colitis. A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, multicenter trial. International journal of colorectal disease, 22(12), 1445-1451.
3. Improves Bronchial Asthma
Like osteoarthritis and inflammatory bowel disease, bronchial asthma is a disease that causes inflammation but limits the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). This is because bronchoconstriction may occur due to the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. This occurs in approximately 10% of users, but caution is required when taking it as it can be fatal for patients with bronchial asthma.
For this reason, research is being conducted on whether Boswellia can be an alternative treatment for bronchial asthma, and meaningful research results are accumulating. Already in 1998, Gupta.I, and researchers conducted a human trial to evaluate the effects of Boswellia intake on 40 patients with bronchial asthma. This study reports improvements in physical symptoms and signs following the consumption of boswellia.
"In 70% of the Boswellia-consuming group, a loss of physical symptoms and signs, such as a decrease in dyspnea, dry crackles, and seizures, and an increase in forced expiratory volume, effortful vital capacity, and maximum expiratory flow rate, was observed, and an improvement in the disease was observed. ... . These data demonstrate a clear role for boswellia in the treatment of bronchial asthma."
Reference : Gupta, I., Gupta, V., Parihar, A., Gupta, S., Lüdtke, R., Safayhi, H., & Ammon, H. P. (1998). Effects of Boswellia serrata gum resin in patients with bronchial asthma: results of a double-blind, placebo-controlled, 6-week clinical study. European journal of medical research, 3(11), 511-514.
Today, we looked at Boswellia, which is receiving a lot of attention as a joint health material. As most studies are examining the usefulness of boswellia in diseases accompanied by inflammation but requiring limited use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), it is said to be an ingredient that has a certain level of benefit in chronic inflammatory diseases overall.
However, while there are many studies reporting the activity of Boswellia in improving osteoarthritis, there were cases in which no clear benefit was observed in rheumatoid arthritis. Therefore, when you want to take boswellia for joints, it is best to understand your own joint problems and use it effectively.
I hope you have a healthy day both physically and mentally. This was Jinny.