In this post we discuss what boswellia is and how it helps with joint pain.
What is Joint Pain and How Does it Arise?
Joints naturally deteriorate with age, use, and normal wear and tear. Though it can be considered a normal part of life, it does not mean that it isn’t uncomfortable.
One in five Canadians experience painful and inflamed joints. This can greatly hinder one’s ability to perform basic tasks such as walking, jumping, sitting, and climbing.
The most common type of joint pain is called osteoarthritis, which refers to the deterioration and associated pain experienced with the overuse of joints. When our joints are overused, it can not only affect the bones involved, but also the many other structures that make up a joint, including:
- Normally: Absorbs any tension that occurs with movement, allowing easy and pain-free joint movement
- Osteoarthritis Patients: Thins and breaks down
- Normally: Attaches muscle to bone
- Osteoarthritis Patients: Can become inflamed and tender, contributing to joint pain and discomfort. This is also known as tendonitis
- Normally: Attaches bone to bone
- Osteoarthritis Patients: Shorten and therefore lose flexibility over time, contributing to joint stiffness
- Synovial Fluid
- Normally: Lubricates and allows for easy joint movements
- Osteoarthritis Patients: Levels decrease, which results in less lubrication for our joints to move freely and pain-free
What is Boswellia and How Does it Help Joint Pain?
Since the beginning of time, humans have valued plant products for health and wellness. Boswellia was among the few natural resins used for these reasons, in addition to playing an important cultural role. In Ayurveda, or ‘The Mother of All Healing” medicinal practice in Indian culture, boswellia is recognized as a natural healing product known for its anti-inflammatory properties.
Boswellia comes from the resin or sap of the densely leaved boswellia tree. The species contains a variety of essential oils, carbohydrates, and boswellic acids that have shown to have great benefits for overall health. More specifically, boswellia has been shown to be an effective anti-inflammatory herbal extract that is a wonderful natural way to curb inflammation in the body.
Boswellia Mechanisms of Action
When taken as a supplement for joint health, boswellia blocks the formation of leukotrienes which is a major cause of inflammation in the body. It can also decrease the production of inflammatory cytokines known to destroy tissues, cells, and cartilage such as interleukin-1, -2, and -6, interferon gamma (IFN-y), and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-a). Along with this, boswellia can also act as an analgesic and natural treatment for inflammatory-driven issues such as osteoarthritis.
A 2011 study found that after taking a boswellia supplement for 3 months, patients with osteoarthrits experienced a significant reduction in pain with improvement in physical abilities and quality of life. It was also reported that boswellia acted against the normal cartilage thinning seen in osteoarthritis and increased substances like collagen and glycosaminoglycans that build connective tissues like cartilage.
This provides further validation that boswellia is an excellent natural medicinal alternative to improve the discomfort in joints with arthritis.
How to Take Boswellia Supplements
Boswellia is available as a resin, capsule, or topical (skin cream) form. Discover which option is right for you below:
Cream: Boswellia creams can be applied directly to the skin to target painful areas of the body, such as joints. A 2015 study showed a greater concentration of boswellic acid is present in the local area where the cream was applied compared to the blood. This shows that the topical boswellia acts locally and within its restricted target area (the joint) and is therefore an effective tool to treat joint pain.
Resin/Extract: Boswellia resin oil and extract are used in soaps, cosmetics, foods, and beverages. When boswellia is used as a resin, it is typically referred to as Indian Frankincense. If used to target joint pain, a person can:
- Diffuse and inhale Frankincense essential oils
- Add Frankincense essential oils to bath salts or directly to bath water
- Dilute (with water) and apply directly to joints
- Add a few drops to bandages and/or compression stockings
Capsule: Boswellia can be purchased online in capsule form to combat joint pain. Boswellia capsules are a great option to target systemic inflammation – either for joint pain in one area or to address other inflammation-related concerns like memory support and brain health.
How to Choose a Boswellia Supplement
*Disclaimer: This blog post is not offering medical advice. Please consult your healthcare practitioner prior to using boswellia or any other natural health product. *
How much boswellia should you take to reduce joint pain? The dosage can greatly vary depending on the product quality, individual, and product manufacturer. Health Canada’s Natural and Non-Prescription Health Products Directorate (NNHPD) have some recommendations around dosage of boswellia based on the health claim made for a product.
For example, Genuwell delivers 1000 mg/day (3 capsules) of Boswellia serrata extract when taken at the recommended daily dose.
Consider boswellia just like any other health supplement, always speak to a medical professional before adding it to your routine. Always check the label of products for any side effects, contraindications, and drug interactions to be aware of.
If you have decided that boswellia is for you, consult our quick checklist to ensure that you are getting products that are approved, safe, effective, and supported by research:
Is it Approved by Health Canada?
Be sure to check that the product is approved by looking for an 8-digit Natural Product Number (NPN) or Homeopathic Medicine Number (DIN-HM) on the label. You can look up products on Health Canada’s Licensed NHP Database to check their approval status.
What is the Purity?
To make sure you are getting what you pay for, double check that the boswellia product you plan to purchase actually has boswellia extract listed as the main active ingredient.
What is the Price?
The general rule of thumb is that if a product appears to be a very good deal compared to leading brands that provide quality products with high potency, you are likely not getting a premium product.
What is the Product Claim?
For best results, consider purchasing a boswellia supplement specifically affecting the health condition, such as memory, you wish to target.
Not Sure Where to Start?
- Provide joint health support
- Relieve joint pain and swelling
- Improve joint and knee function
- Minimize joint pain and swelling associated with osteoarthritis of the knee