Boswellia: The Anti-Inflammatory Herb for Chronic Sporting Injuries

Inflammation, basically anything that is red, hot, painful and swollen, is a reoccurring theme during weekend sporting competitions. Often the participant will use a pharmaceutical analgesic such as panadol, nurofen zavance or celebrex to ease pain and reduce inflammation. In situations where a participant experiences acute inflammation, the foregoing analgesic agents work rapidly in remedying this form of inflammation. However, in cases where inflammation becomes chronic, for example, from repetitive strain or overuse, herbal anti-inflammatory agents are a safer and effective option.

In the last decade their has been extensive research and development on new anti-inflammatory agents based on natural sources. One of these anti-inflammatory agents is Boswellia. Boswellia has been described in Ayurvedic text books as a remedy for the treatment of a variety of inflammatory diseases. In 2011, researchers from Tuebingen University, Germany, confirmed that the gum resin extracts of Boswellia (the extract used in the formula I prescribe to my clients) acts as a potent anti-inflammatory agent. Moreover, in 2001 it was confirmed that Boswellia  extracts inhibited inflammation to the same extent as high dose steroids.

Boswellic acids inhibit inflammation by impairing pro-inflammatory mediators in the body, of particular note, Leukotrienes. Leukotrienes are naturally occurring chemical substances that promote an inflammatory response (pain, swelling, a decline in functional movement) in the body. In a healthy host, Leukotrienes signal the body's immune system to target an injury and stimulate healing. However, in the case of repetitive strain or overuse injuries leukotrienes can suppress the immune system defenses involved in responding to inflammation. This being so, the injury never heals to the extent that it should, and thus, impairs maximum functional movement. What Boswellic acid is capable of, is inhibiting the key enzyme that allows specific leukotrienes to induce the foregoing response. For example, the gum resin extracted from boswellia has been shown to significantly reduce the total white blood cell count in joint fluid and restore the integrity of blood vessels obliterated by spasm or internal damage in the knees of elite basketball players. Hence, given the adverse side effects of ongoing, pharmaceutical analgesic use, there is merit in using a natural and safe analgesic that is effective in alleviating the symptoms associated with chronic inflammation.

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