The Spartan Guide to Boswellia
The Claim Boswellia, a.k.a. Indian frankincense, is made from the resin of a tree native to Arabia and India. It’s a common Ayurvedic healer known for its ability to tamp down inflammation, so it’s often prescribed for autoimmune diseases, osteoarthritis, ulcerative colitis, and other inflammatory conditions.
The Evidence Several studies show that taking boswellia can improve mobility in people with osteoarthritis; many patients see relief within a week of starting the pills, and one study claimed that boswellia decreases joint pain by 65 percent. The literature on ulcerative colitis is also relatively solid, with boswellia shown to improve symptoms as well as prescription drugs. What’s more, early (but less solid) research hints that boswellia can help treat asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, cluster headaches, and even brain tumors.
For holistic health practitioners, boswellia’s power is undeniable. “I love it because it works for so many things,” says Svetlana Kogan, M.D., a family physician in New York City and author of Diet Slave No More. “I prescribe it for arthritis, autoimmune disease, and common strains and sprains, and it’s very safe and effective.” It’s commonly prescribed with some combination of ginger, turmeric, and ashwagandha—other potent inflammation-fighters—to buoy its impact.
How to Use It A standard daily dose is 100 to 250 milligrams taken at breakfast. Since boswellia’s power seems to be dose-dependent, start at the lower end, and after two to three months, increase the dose to see if it works better. If not, stick with the lower dose.