In this series we explore the ingredients in Natural Alchemy’s Yoga Formula – why they are good for the yogi, where they come from and what research has been done to support the merits of each ingredient.

Boswellia for the Yogi

The most common yoga injuries are joint and muscle related, affecting wrists, elbows, shoulders, lower back, hamstrings, knees and ankles.

Although most of these injuries are minor and short-lived no one wants to have them. And those of us who unfortunately do get them naturally want to recover faster.

Boswellia’s long history in Ayurveda exists for a reason. We chose to integrate it in the Yoga Formula for its anti-inflammatory capacity, explained below.

But first…

Boswellia’s long history in Ayurveda exists for a reason.

What is Boswellia?

Boswellia serrata is an Ayurvedic herb known commonly as Frankincense. Its fragrant resin is extracted from the torchwood or incense family of trees that grow in the dry mountainous regions of India, Northern Africa and the Middle East. Historically, Boswellia was used for personal, cultural and spiritual purposes. In Oman, it was recorded to have been used for oral and physical hygiene and for flavouring food and drinks (1). The potent fragrance comes from the essential oils found in the resin whereby scent is released when burned. So strong is its aroma that it once upon a time ‘rivalled the value of gold, the rarest of silks and the most precious of gems’ (3).

It’s unsurprising then that Boswellia would have several names in various languages. In Sanksrit it’s sometimes called Gajabhakshya which, according to sources (2), translate as ‘elephants eating its leaves’.

This observation may have sparked an early medical curiosity: If the perdurable elephants consume this plant, could incorporating it in the human diet also contribute to prolonging our lifespan and offer yet-known health benefits?

Boswellia in the field of Medicine

Today, Boswellia serrata is widely recognised in sciences and the pharmaceutical industry. Its medical code in Europe is H15 – mostly studied in the fields of rheumatology, gastroenterology, pulmonology and neurology (4).

Boswellic acids – component of H15 – have demonstrated anti-inflammatory behaviour by preventing leukotriene production. Leukotrienes are ‘potent pro-inflammatory mediators’ (5) that ‘cause inflammation by promoting free radical damage, calcium dislocation, cell-adhesion and migration of inflammation-producing cells to the inflamed body area’ (6).

In 2002, the European Medicines Agency granted Boswellia serrata a ‘positive opinion’ on its way to becoming an ‘orphan drug’ (7) – a special status granted to a biological product in relation to the treatment of a specific condition – in this case, the treatment of inflamed brain tumors. The application for orphan designation was later withdrawn in 2006 by Pharmasan GmbH, the German pharmaceutical company leading the study.

This hasn’t stopped the medical industry from exploring the curative potentials of H15.

In 2008, a clinical trial involving Boswellia serrata as an arthritis remedy was conducted in the University of California (8). The trial was a placebo-controlled study – meaning that the 70 patients with mild and moderate arthritis who participated in the experiment did not know if they were given an active treatment or whether they received a ‘fake’ treatment – consequently eliminating any psychological perception of health improvement.

The conclusion yielded positive, with researchers recording significant improvements in pain and joint function, in some cases providing relief within seven days.

The patients were given either the placebo or 100mg of Boswellia extract per day or 250mg of Boswellia extract per day. The trial ran for 90 days. Patients who received the 250mg dosage responded better to the treatment.

To date, studies are still on-going to pass Boswellia as a scientific medical drug. No side effects have been recorded thus far. ‘No known harmful drug interactions [are] associated’ with [it]’ and no allergies are linked with the use of the plant and its extracts (9).

Further reading

(1) http://www.mei.edu/sqcc/frankincense

(2) http://easyayurveda.com/2015/07/14/shallaki-boswellia-serrata/

(3) http://www.scents-of-earth.com/frankincense1.html

(4) http://www.pharmazeutische-zeitung.de/index.php?id=pharm3_51_2002

(5) http://www.atsjournals.org/doi/full/10.1164/ajrccm.157.6.mar-1

(6) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3309643/

(7) http://www.ema.europa.eu/docs/en_GB/document_library/Orphan_designation/2009/10/WC500005903.pdf

(8) https://www.telegraphindia.com/1080804/jsp/nation/story_9643877.jsp#top,

(9) http://www.medicinehunter.com/boswellia Natural Alchemy promotes well-being.

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