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Botanical name : Boswellia serrata
Species: B. serrata
Common Name : Salai guggal,Shallaki. (Boswellia serrata is Indian frankincense or Salai referred to in Sanskrit as shallaki.)
Habitat :Boswellia serrata is native to India & Pakisthan.It is a species characteristic of the tropical dry deciduous forests and occurs in very dry teak forests or in dry mixed deciduous forests in association with species such as Terminalia spp., Anogeissus latifolia and Acacia leucophloea. It is characteristically found on the slopes and ridges of hills, as well as on flat terrain, attaining a larger size on fertile soils. It is resistant to drought and resists fire better than other species in its zone of occurrence. The tree is also frost hardy and serves as a nurse tree for other species.
Boswellia serrata is a moderate-sized to large, deciduous tree with a light, spreading crown and somewhat drooping branches. It usually has a short bole, 3-5 m in length, sometimes longer if grown in a fully stocked forest. Ordinarily, it attains a girth of 1.2-1.8 m and a height of 9-15 m. Bark is very thin, greyish-green, ashy or reddish with a chlorophyll layer beneath the thin outer layer, which peels off in thin, papery flakes. Leaves alternate, exstipulate, imparipinnate, 20-45 cm in length, crowded towards the ends of the branches; leaflets 17-31 cm, opposite, 2.5-8 cm x 0.8-1.5 cm, basal pairs often smallest, sessile, lanceolate, ovate-lanceolate, crenate, very variable in size. Flowers white, in stout racemes, 10-20 cm long, shorter than the leaves, crowded towards the ends of branches, but not terminal. Calyx persistent, pubescent outside, 5 to 7-toothed; teeth small, deltoid. Petals 5-7 erect, free, 0.5 cm long. Fruits 1.3 cm long, trigonous, with three valves and three heart-shaped, 1-seeded pyrenes, winged, along with the margins. The specific name, serrata, comes from serra (a saw) referring to the toothed leaf-margins.
Shallaki has potent analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects that can reduce the pain and inflammation of joints. The salai guggal gum is used as a diaphoretic and astringent. Other products: B. serrata has been recorded in West Bengal as a new lac host.
Shallaki or Boswellia serrata is an herbal extract well known for its anti-inflammatory, anti-atherosclerotic and anti-arthritic activities. Shallaki is effective in the treatment of the common ailments
* Rheumatoid arthritis (In Ayurvedic medicine Indian frankincense (Boswellia serrata) has been used for hundreds of years for treating arthritis.)
* Osteoarthritis (Extracts of Boswellia serrata have been clinically studied for osteoarthritis and joint function, particularly for osteoarthritis of the knee.)
* Cervical spondylosis
* Ankylosing spondylitis
* Lumbar spine
Boswellia (Boswelya, Salai Guggul) is an Ayurvedic herb that contains anti-inflammatory triterpenoids called boswellic acid. Boswellic acids are effective in anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic agents, for both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, soft tissue rheumatism, and low back pain.
Boswellia has a beneficial effect by suppressing the growth of the inflamed tissue, as well as preventing the breakdown of the surrounding connective tissue.
Boswellia Serrata’s anti-inflammatory properties can help to reduce aching and stiffness, especially when associated with low back pain. Although research indicates that boswellia is best taken orally for this purpose, creams appear to be soothing as well.
Inflammatory bowel :
Boswellia may improve symptoms of ulcerative colitis, including abdominal pains, loose stools, and mucus and blood in the stools.
Boswellia may also be beneficial in asthmatics and may also reduce fluid retention associated with brain tumours. This fluid build-up is associated with the action of certain inflammatory chemicals (leukotrienes). Boswellia inhibits the production of these chemicals. Reduction of fluid retention around brain tumours has a beneficial effect on reducing the associated brain damage.
Boswellia gum has been also used for the treatment of diabetes, skin and blood diseases, fever, cardiovascular disorders, neurological disorders, dysentery, diseases of the testes, and myriad of other disorders.
Positive effects of Boswellia in some chronic inflammatory diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, bronchial asthma, osteoarthritis, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease have been reported. A Boswellia extract marketed under the name Wokvel has undergone human efficacy, comparative, pharmacokinetic studies.Some see Boswellia serrata as a promising alternative to NSAIDs, warranting further investigation in pharmacological studies and clinical trials.
Boswellia serrata is used in the manufacture of the supposed anti-wrinkle agent “Boswelox“, which has been criticised as being ineffective.
Boswellia serrata has been recently developed for topical use in a patent-pending formula in Sano Relief Gel.
Potential for anti-cancer activity:
Boswellic acid, an extract from Boswellia serrata, has been studied for anti-neoplastic activity, especially in experimental primary and secondary brain tumors, indicating potential efficacy from in vitro and limited clinical research. Boswellic acid is also undergoing an early-stage clinical trial at the Cleveland Clinic.
Research on Boswellia serrata:
Shallaki has anti-Inflammatory and anti-arthritic property that can reduce the pain and inflammation of the joints of the body. efficacy and tolerability of Boswellia serrata extract in the treatment of osteoarthritis of knee – a randomized double blind placebo controlled study by Kimmatkar N, Thawani N, et al. at MS Orthopaedics, Indira Gandhi Medical College, Nagpur, India, Phytomedicine 2003 Jan; 10 (1) ; 3-7
Boswellic acid and other pentacyclic triterpene acids are present. Beta-boswellic acid is the major constituent.
Mechanism of action:
Animal studies performed in India show ingestion of a defatted alcoholic extract of Boswellia decreased polymorphonuclear leukocyte infiltration and migration, decreased primary antibody synthesis and almost totally inhibited the classical complement pathway.
Fodder: It is not readily browsed by cattle, although in India, it is considered a substitute fodder for buffaloes. Fuel: The wood is a good fuel. Charcoal made from it is particularly favoured for iron smelting. Fibre: B. serrata has recently come into prominence as a raw material for pulp paper and newsprint. Experiments show that writing and printing papers of suitable strength can be prepared when 25-40% long-fibred bamboo pulp is mixed in the finish. The bark can also be used for cordage. Timber: It is used in cheap furniture, ammunition boxes, mica boxes, packing cases, cement barrels, well construction, water pipes, matches, plywood and veneers. Gum or resin: The tree yields a yellowish-green gum-oleoresin known as ‘salai guggal’ from wounds in the bark. This gum has an agreeable scent when burnt. A mature tree yields about 1-1.5 kg of gum a year. It is said to be a good substitute for imported Canada balsam. It is also tapped for resin called ‘lobal’, which is used as incense.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider