Q: What is boswellia serrata?
A: A reader recently asked The Herb Companion about boswellia serrata. Having never heard of it before, (It looked like a made up word to me) I had to research to find out more. It turns out that this nonsense-word plant is actually very interesting.
Boswellia serrata is a medium-sized tropical tree with ash-colored, papery bark. It’s native to India and other tropical regions of Asia and Africa. When cut, the bark of boswellia yields a gummy resin, or tree sap, that is used for medicinal purposes. This resin, called gugul or salai, is related to frankincense. It is taken from the frankincense shrub, which is a prime ingredient in incense and oils.
The resin from boswellia has long been used in traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicine as a remedy for arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, bursitis, diarrhea, dysentery, goiter, liver problems and rheumatism. Today, boswellia is used to help reduce inflammation, stiffness and joint pain. The resin contains boswellic acids, which work to reduce inflammation. Boswellia serrata resin can also help soothe pain caused by minor injuries and is an effective remedy for the chronic pain associated with arthritis.
Boswellia serrata and frankincense come in capsules, extracts and oils. Get boswellia capsules at www.herbalremedies.com; 120 capsules for $11.25.
Ancient Herbs and Modern Herbs: A Comprehensive Reference Guide to Medicinal Herbs, Human Ailments and Possible Herbal Remedies by James Kedzie Sayre (Bottlebrush Press, 2001)