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Side Effects and Interactions of Boswellia

Different parts of Boswellia Serrata have been traditionally used to treat such varied health conditions as asthma, dysentery, ulcers (especially ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease), rheumatism (rheumatoid arthritis), and skin disorders for very long time. Boswellia is an herbal medicine extracted from the gummy resin of the tree bark of Boswellia serrata.

As almost every herbal remedy it should be used after your doctor’s consultation after knowing its beneficial properties and some adverse effects, associated with it.

It is very important for you to tell you doctor, if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant while using this medicine. You doctor should know, whether you are breastfeeding. In all these cases you should not use boswellia, to avoid birth defects or spontaneous abortion. You doctor should know whether you are taking any medicine, in order to avoid interaction. Perhaps, you will be advised not to take Boswellia if you are allergic to any medicine (prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) or dietary supplement), and in case you have stomach pain and upset, or any other health problems (such as high blood pressure or heart or blood vessel disease). If you have stomach upset or gastritis, you may make your stomach just upset worse.

Boswellia has few side effects. They are rare, but should be mentioned, though none of them are serious. You may have the following side effects:

  • Stomach pain;
  • Diarrhea;
  • Skin rash, burning;
  • Stomach discomfort, including nausea;
  • Acid reflux (heartburn);
  • A feeling of fullness in stomach;

Some studies reported the irritation of the skin from a multiherb product containing boswellia. And allergic contact dermatitis has been associated with the use of a naturopathic cream containing the herb extract.

If you experience something else that could be a side effect, and do not sure about that – you’re your doctor as well. There are some other possible effects associated with the boswellia treatment:

  • Chest pain
  • Tightness in your throat or chest
  • Breathing problem
  • Swollen skin
  • Skin hives, rash, or itchy skin

In case you have any of the listed above side effects, stop taking your medicine right away and talk to your doctor. It is very much like you have an allergy to your medicine, which causes these symptoms. The herb has not been shown to cause ulcers, respiratory, cardiovascular, or psychological side effects. Boswellia is generally safe when used as directed, without exceeding recommended dosage. If boswellia is used with supplements that possess similar properties, it increases its beneficial effects as well as side effects. So, dosages of other agents may need to be reduced. Also it is very important to know, that high in fat meals seem to increase the concentration of boswellia in the body.

You should remember, that you can use boswellia, as a herb remedy, but if you are using it in treating such diseases and conditions as arthritis, colitis, or any other conditions you should stay under your doctor supervision. Any inflammatory joint condition should be closely monitored by a doctor as well. No way for self-treatment.

There are no known drug interactions or contraindications with the use of the herb. But there are a possibility, that boswellia may increase or decrease the effects of medications. Animal studies point out that the herb may increase the effects or toxicity of some drugs. For example, such as Singulair – a montelukast, used for treating asthma. There are the same concerns about mixing boswellia with cholesterol-lowering drugs, some anticancer and antifungal drugs. But there were no human studies yet. Boswellia may also reduce the effectiveness of some anti-inflammatory pain relievers (Motrin, Advil among ibuprofen and aspirin; Aleve, Naprosyn among naproxen). Studies were not made on the issue yet as well.

Boswellia interact not only with medicines, but also with some herbs and dietary supplements. Better not mix the herb together with the following:

  • Supplements that may have anticancer properties (mistletoe – Viscum album)
  • Cholesterol-lowering supplements (such as garlic – Allium sativum)
  • Antifungal agents (such as tea tree oil – Melaleuca alternifolia)
  • Supplements used to treat joint diseases (such as glucosamine or chondroitin)

Use the herb with caution and with your doctor’s supervising.

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