Turmeric and boswellia are both popular herbs that are often compared due to their ability to reduce inflammation within the body.
However, despite their similar anti-inflammatory properties, there are significant differences between these plants that should be considered before you decide which one is best for you.
In this article, we’ll look at the key differences and similarities between turmeric vs boswellia.
Table of Contents
- Turmeric Overview & Uses:
- Boswellia Overview & Uses:
- Turmeric vs Boswellia: Similarities
- Turmeric vs. Boswellia: Differences
- Turmeric vs. Boswellia: Which is right for you?
- Can You Take Boswellia and Turmeric Together?
- Potential Side Effects & Interactions:
Turmeric Overview & Uses:
Turmeric is a perennial herb that grows in southeastern Asia. In fact, India is the largest grower of turmeric.
This plant’s scientific name is Curcuma longa and is part of the Zingiberaceae (i.e. ginger) family of plants. It is the rhizome that is the part of the plant that is utilized medicinally.
In ancient Europe, turmeric was known as “Indian saffron”, and was used as a saffron substitute in cooking.
Curcumin, a phytochemical found in turmeric, is thought to be the reason behind turmeric’s anti-inflammatory effects.
Modern research suggests that turmeric may help with joint health. It’s also been shown to have anti-inflammatory and cardioprotective effects.
We’ll dig more into the health benefits of turmeric below.
1. May Benefit Arthritis
There is traditional evidence and new research to suggest that turmeric may help reduce arthritic symptoms.
In a clinical trial involving participants with osteoarthritis, scientists discovered that turmeric was able to reduce arthritic pain. These findings indicated that turmeric extract was as effective as ibuprofen in reducing pain.
Another study showed that curcumin significantly improved physical function and reduced pain in individuals with knee arthritis. The researchers noted that although the study participants were permitted to use an anti-inflammatory drug throughout the study, over 80% of subjects taking curcumin stopped using the intervention drug at the conclusion of the study.
2. May Help to Balance Blood Sugar
Turmeric has the potential to help regulate high blood sugar levels.
A study found that turmeric helped support healthy post-meal insulin levels. Insulin is a hormone that works to move blood sugar from your blood into your cells. The researchers noted that insulin levels rose after the study participants took a turmeric supplement, which led to a decrease in blood sugar levels.
A clinical trial found that turmeric also reduced diabetes markers in pre-diabetic individuals. In particular, turmeric was found to reduce fasting blood sugar levels and average blood glucose levels after 3 months (known as A1C). At the end of the study, no participants in the turmeric group were diagnosed with type II diabetes. In contrast, over 16% of the individuals in the placebo group were diagnosed with type II diabetes.
3. May Support Cardiovascular Health
In several studies, turmeric has been shown to benefit heart health by lowering cholesterol.
A study looked at the impact of turmeric on individuals with heart issues. The scientists discovered that turmeric supplementation helped to lower both LDL cholesterol (i.e. bad cholesterol) and total cholesterol levels.
Another clinical trial found that turmeric has the ability to lower LDL cholesterol and improve HDL cholesterol levels. At the end of the study, the researchers noted that turmeric extract may help to prevent heart disease.
Boswellia Overview & Uses:
Boswellia is the resinous sap, or gum, that comes from the Boswellia tree. These trees can be found growing throughout India, the Middle East, and in Northern Africa.
Boswellia is known scientifically as Boswellia serrata, a large tree that’s part of the Burseraceae family. It’s also commonly known as Indian frankincense.
When harvesting boswellia resin, incisions are made into the trunk of the tree. The sap flows out of the tree to seal up the cut. This sap is then harvested and dried.
Indian frankincense is a well-studied herb with a variety of clinical trials that support its usage.
The benefits of boswellia are thought to come from the various terpenes and triterpenic acids present in boswellia, including β-boswellic acid.
We’ll dig more into the health benefits of boswellia below.
1. May Reduce Inflammation
Ancient and modern medicinal practices alike have used Indian frankincense to reduce inflammation.
In a 2019 clinical trial researchers found that boswellia extract was able to reduce symptoms in individuals with arthritic knees. The researchers found that boswellia helped to increase knee mobility and reduce pain by inhibiting inflammation.
Another clinical trial discovered that boswellic acid, in combination with the supplement MSM, was able to reduce inflammation in individuals with pain and mobility problems. The study participants reported that they were able to walk without pain while taking this supplement combination.
Additionally, researchers found that taking boswellia daily for 6 weeks reduced chronic inflammation in individuals with ulcerative colitis. The researchers found that boswellia put 82% of subjects into remission, compared to the placebo which put 75% into remission.
2. May Promote Skin Health
Boswellia can improve the look and feel of damaged skin by reducing inflammation.
Oftentimes, skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema, and dry or reddened areas are the result of high inflammation levels.
A clinical trial found that using a treatment cream containing boswellia helped to reduce fine lines and improve skin elasticity. The researchers theorized that these benefits may be due to boswellia’s anti-inflammatory properties.
Another clinical trial found that boswellia helps individuals struggling with psoriasis and eczema. A topical cream containing boswellia was able to reduce skin scales, itching, and skin redness.
3. May Improve Blood Sugar Levels
Boswellia has also been shown to support individuals with elevated blood sugar levels (called hyperglycemia).
A study found that boswellia resin helped improve both cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Improvement was seen after 300mg of the resin was taken 3x/day.
An animal study suggested that Boswellia serrata has the ability to reduce high blood sugar levels. In the study, boswellia was found to reduce blood sugar levels in rats. Another study found a similar effect in mice with Type I diabetes.
Turmeric vs Boswellia: Similarities
When it comes to comparing turmeric vs. boswellia, there are a few key similarities between these two botanicals.
Both boswellia and turmeric have the ability to reduce inflammation in the body.
It should be noted that inflammation is part of the immune response. Inflammation plays a key role in the body’s healing process. In the short term, inflammation is helpful for physical recovery, however, chronic inflammation is tied to a variety of painful symptoms.
Secondly, both turmeric and boswellia appear to be helpful for stabilizing blood sugar levels. While each herb has its own unique mechanism of action, both herbs have been found to be helpful for lowering blood glucose.
Turmeric vs. Boswellia: Differences
There are a handful of key differences between boswellia and curcumin.
First, while both herbs are known for their anti-inflammatory effects, the mechanism of action is different for both.
However, new research indicates that curcumin (and other curcuminoids) may not have as strong anti-inflammatory properties as previously thought. It appears that this is due to the poor bioavailability of curcumin.
Boswellia on the other hand is generally better absorbed, especially if taken in a phytosome form such as Casperome®.
While both herbs provide anti-inflammatory constituents, it’s important to remember that the ability to digest and utilize those constituents is crucial.
Second, turmeric has the ability to support heart health through cholesterol regulation. Boswellia doesn’t have this ability.
Third, boswellia helps to support skin health through its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, while turmeric does not.
Turmeric vs. Boswellia: Which is right for you?
When choosing between boswellia and turmeric, there are a few key things to keep in mind.
You can think of boswellia as an anti-inflammatory herb with the ability to benefit blood sugar regulation and skin health. If you are looking to reduce inflammation throughout the body, boswellia is a great herb to use.
However, turmeric is an anti-inflammatory herb that seems to be most effective for chronic inflammatory disorders that cause pain (like arthritis, for example). Turmeric may also support heart health, especially LDL cholesterol levels.
Can You Take Boswellia and Turmeric Together?
Yes, you can take boswellia and turmeric together.
These herbs are not known to have any negative interactions when taken together.
In fact, the herbal combination of boswellia and turmeric may be good for reducing inflammation and helping with blood sugar stabilization.
Potential Side Effects & Interactions:
Herbs do have the ability to interact negatively within the human body.
Turmeric is generally well tolerated and considered to be safe. The FDA has granted it GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status.
Taking large doses of turmeric and/or curcumin for long periods of time can cause upset stomachs and, in extreme cases, ulcers.
Boswellia is considered to be a safe herb. It is also listed as a GRAS herb.
Both of these herbs are typically well-tolerated and safe to consume.
If you’re trying to decide between turmeric vs. boswellia, consider taking a month or two to experiment with each herb before making your final decision.
You might find that one works better than the other or vice versa! Or, try them together and see if you get a synergistic effect.
It is always recommended to speak with your personal doctor before taking any new herbal supplements.