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Indian Frankincense “Holy Incense” (Boswellia serrata), resin rocks
€ 6.00 – € 70.00 incl. VAT
Indian Frankincense or Boswelia serrata is a medium-sized tree from the Burseraceae family. It grows mainly in India, Africa and the Middle East. The compound pinnate leaves have serrated edges, to which the plant owes its species name. It blooms with small, white to yellowish flowers. Boswellia’s main product is resin, which is known primarily as incense used in religious ceremonies not only by Christian churches. It is taken from a cut on a tree trunk into special bamboo baskets.
The oldest way of using incense resin was fumigation and embalming. For this purpose, it was used by the cultures of ancient India (for Hindu rites), Egypt, Babylon, Persia, China, Greece and Rome, but it is also proven to be used by the original inhabitants of America. These nations fumigated boswelia’s resin during sacrificial rituals and daily ceremonies, whether to ward off evil spirits, to please the gods or to worship the dead.
As part of phytotherapy, boswellia was widely used by Ayurveda, which is a traditional Indian medical system. Boswellia are mentioned in two of the three major works of Ayurveda, which gathered the complete medical knowledge of the time: Caraka (ca. 700 BC) and Sushruta (ca. 600 BC). At that time, doctors used boswelli mainly for its anti-inflammatory effects, mainly for the treatment of articular pain, but it is also mentioned for dysentery, fever, shingles, cardiovascular diseases, airway inflammation, sore throat, irregular menstruation and to support liver function.
Boswellia’s resin is usually the main component of “sacred incense”, which is used in ceremonial gatherings and services in temples, prayer houses and churches of perhaps all spiritual and religious traditions (it is used in Catholic and Orthodox churches, Buddhist temples, and on some occasions by Jews and Muslims).
Boswellia resin contains monoterpenes, diterpenes, triterpenes, tetracyclic triterpene acids and four main pentacyclic triterpene acids, namely beta-boswellic acid, acetyl-beta-boswellic acid, 11-keto-beta-boswellic acid and acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid. Boswellic acids are the most important component due to their strong anti-inflammatory effects. However, the proportion of the individual components, and thus the quality of the incense, can vary considerably. Trees growing on dry stony soils grow slowly and give much less resin, but their quality is higher. From the therapeutic point of view, the content of boswellic acids is decisive.
The traditional use of Boswellia is mainly to treat articular pain, whether caused by osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. The main reason is the anti-inflammatory effect of this plant, specifically boswellic acids. The principle of their action is epigenetic – these acids directly affect the activation of genes responsible for inflammatory processes through chemical reactions (gene methylation, histone acetylation, microRNA regulation). However, epigenetic effects and related anti-inflammatory effects are the cause of positive effects in the case of other diseases and problems – from cancer to cardiovascular disease or asthma to skin aging.
Probably the best known is the use of Boswellia in the prevention and treatment of osteoarthritis. This degenerative disease most often affects the large joints of the lower limbs, but can occur in any joint. Boswellia is effective in treating inflammation and swelling in both osteoarthritis and arthritis. Boswellic acid is a substance that is able to modulate the methylation of genes that can suppress certain types of tumor growth, such as colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon and rectum). Thanks to its significant anti-inflammatory effects, boswellia is also very effective in the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases, such as ulcerative and collagen colitis or Crohn’s disease. Boswellic acid also reduces platelet activation and reduces vascular aggregation. At the same time, it lowers blood cholesterol levels by up to 48%. Research has confirmed the effectiveness of incense resin also in asthma.
Boswellia is used in traditional phytotherapy for memory disorders and its positive effect on brain functions has been confirmed by modern science. For example, it can effectively protect brain cells during stroke damage, again due to its anti-inflammatory effect. Boswellic acid is also a very promising raw material for the cosmetics industry, as it improves the elasticity of the skin, improves its protection against external influences and slows down the signs of its aging. In one study, when women applied a boswellic acid cream to half of their face for 30 days, they experienced noticeable softening, loss of fine lines, improved skin elasticity, and reduced sebum production. In addition, this effect persisted for two months after the end of the application.
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