Boswellia serrata is similar to frankincense, one of the gifts brought by the Wise Men to celebrate the birth of Jesus. The frankincense used in the West is usually Boswellia carteri, an herb whose properties have not been studied nearly as much as one might think given the Biblical references.


Some years ago, one of my students, a practitioner in Nuremburg, told me that German doctors and naturopaths were getting excellent results -- in ten days or less -- with an Indian herb, Boswellia serrata, in the treatment of brain tumors. I have been cautiously passing on this information "for what it is worth," knowing that people with such tumors suffer serious changes in function due to the pressure on the brain, a problem that is usually aggravated by edema.

Prof. Thomas Simmet has researched Boswellia serrata on astrocytomes, a tumor noted for its propensity to metastasize. Prof. Simmet's background is in pharmacology, and he suggests that the boswellic acids reduce inflammation. I was familiar with this research because boswellia has been used extensively to reduce the symptoms of arthritis. Prof. Simmet proposes that boswellia inhibits the production of an enzyme that causes the leukotriene production associated with inflammation. In laboratory tests, Prof. Simmet observed that the more malignant the tumor, the more leukotrienes it produces. This seems to perpetuate a cycle of almost unstoppable growth.

Working with a neurosurgeon, Michael Winking, 25 patients were administered a dry extract of boswellia for one week. The tumors were then surgically removed. About half the patients had such significant regressions that the tumors had all but disappeared. They used a dosage of 800 mg. three times a day.

At the university hospitals of Bochum and Giessen, patients with gliome tumors were administered somewhat higher dosages of Boswellia serrata, 3600 mg. per day. Within only a few days, many symptoms associated with brain tumors, such as headaches and lameness, were greatly lessened. While much of this effect might be more related to the reduction in edema than to the regression of the tumor, swelling and the resultant pressures are serious side effects of malignancy that impact the quality of life. The reports of these trials are preliminary and researchers are unwilling to speculate as to the long-term results and whether or not tumor growth is arrested.

I have long been familiar with Boswellia carteri, but only yesterday did I open the bag of Boswellia serrata to fill some capsules for the father of the man I met last week. The frankincense with which I had been working for years has a lovely aroma, but I had used it more for religious rituals than medicine. Boswellia serrata is more subtle than the frankincense that is better known to me. It is also very aromatic, but the difference is something like jasmine and stephanotis. Jasmine is powerful and grabs attention whereas stephanotis wafts more delicately and lingers elegantly on the senses. Boswellia serrata became an immediate friend.






Sacred Medicine Sanctuary
Copyright by Ingrid Naiman 2004

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