Boswellia, also known as Indian frankincense, is getting a lot of attention, and for good reason. An herbal extract derived from Boswellia serrata — a densely-leaved tree that looks like a beautiful, oversized shrub — it is found across India, Saudi Arabia, and Ethiopia. Its name is Old French, meaning “high-quality incense," and it's gathered from the resin of five varieties of Boswellia trees.
Boswellia's Origins, and How It Can Help You
Boswellia helps with achy joints and general inflammation in the digestion tract and respiratory system. The use of Boswellia resin actually dates back thousands of years, to Ayurvedic medicine. Recently, however, medical science has begun to research its full potential and extensive anti-inflammatory properties. Most notably, scientific studies have suggested that Boswellia can block what is known as 5-LOX inflammation (5-lipoxygenase inflammation).
Boswellia can have some profound therapeutic possibilities.
It Fights Asthma, Arthritis, and Even Cancer
For centuries, Boswellia has been used for a variety of illnesses and ailments, including asthma, cerebral edema, chronic bowel diseases, arthritis, and cancer.
In the case of arthritis, Boswellic acids — the active components of Boswellia — seem to have very strong anti-inflammatory properties. People who have rheumatoid arthritis, as well as osteoarthritis, may respond well to Boswellia because it may help to reduce cartilage loss and hinder the autoimmune process that contributes to these conditions.
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As scientists have looked more deeply into this traditional medicine, they’ve found that Boswellia has some additional properties. Specifically, it has the potential to block 5-LOX inflammation. 5-LOX is an enzyme that can interact with fatty acids and create leukotriene, which is linked to very strong pro-oxidant and pro-inflammatory activities. (As I've discussed before, an overabundance of oxidants in your system can be quite dangerous.)
5-LOX can impact both the cardiovascular system and the neural system. Its impact on cardiovascular health is often concentrated in the aorta, coronary, and carotid arteries. For the neural system, it’s especially localized in the hippocampus — which is critical for learning and memory — and the cortex. In both the cardiovascular and neural systems, the presence of 5-LOX increases considerably as people get older. Luckily, integrating Boswellia into your diet is pretty easy. You can find it as an extract, an herbal supplement, or a powder.
The Last Word
Frankincense had great value in ancient times, and modern science has confirmed that its properties are not just the stuff of legend. Its anti-inflammatory properties have been proven to be very effective in dealing with some significant health problems, like inflammation, and they can really help ease post-race joint aches and pains.
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