Common Name: Salai
English Name: Indian Olibanum, Frankincense
Botanical Name: Boswellia serrata Roxb
Description: It is a deciduous middle-sized tree with ash coloured papery bark. Leaves imperipinnate, 20-38 cm long, leaflets lanceolate or ovate acute or obtuse, inequilateral, sessile, pubescent, coarsely crenate-serrate. Flowers in axillary racemes, shorter than the leaves. Fruit a trigonous drupe, 12 mm long. The leaves are like neem plant and have small white flowers. Boswellia Serrata tree, on injury, exudates an oleo-gum-resin known as Shalai Guggal or Indian Frankincense, the white flowers appear in branches from the month ofJanuary toMarch-April; sometimes flowers may appear before the leaves orafter the appearance of new leaves. The drupes ripen in May-June.
Chemical Constitution: The first terpenoids isolated is boswellic acid. Since then a number of chemists have worked on the structural elucidation of boswellic acid. Structure of methyl ester of acetyl- β -boswellic acid has also been confirmed by single crystal X-ray studies recently.Besides boswellic acid several other triterpenoids have also been isolated from the gum resin, these, compounds include α -amyrins, 11-keto-a-boswellic acid, 3’ hydroxyl urs-9, 11 – dien-24-oic acid, 3’-acetoxy urs-9, 11-dien-24-oic- acid, besides this a new compound have also been reported called diterpene alcohol serratol.
Properties: Boswellia is one of the most promising herbs for treating arthritis. It has also been also said to have pain relieving properties. These two properties make it an effective remedy for rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Itcan also help in lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood and liver. This makes it an effective agent in lowering overall cholesterol levels. The sedative activity of Boswellia has also been reported. This effect is a welcome side effect and aids in the pain relief effect on arthritic joints. Asthma has been treated successfully using boswellia serrata extract. It helps to relax the bronchial passage ways. It has also been used to treat Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis effectively, as well. Some research shows promise in the immunity boosting properties of boswellia extract use. A study made by Colorado State University indicates that boswellia could be helpful for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) by reducing inflammation in the bowels.
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