Salai guggul or Indian frankincense is an oleo gum resin extracted from the Boswellia serrate tree. Native to India, Middle East and North Africa, the Boswellia serrate is an average-sized branching tree that mostly thrives in dry mountainous regions of its native lands. In India, Salai guggul is mainly cultivated in the middle and the northern regions and is also known by different names including, ‘dhup’, ‘salai’, ‘salai guggul’, ‘Indian olibanum’ or Indian frankincense.
The gum extract is tapped from the incision made on the trunk of the tree which is then solidified and processed into a resin. The rich aroma and flavour of the resin has been used as incense in many cultures throughout history. In fact, Salai guggul had been the ‘frankincense’ of ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans who used the resin as prized incense, fumigant, as well as multipurpose aromatic.
Beyond its aromatic benefits, Salai guggul, also known as Sallaki in Sanskrit, is one of the ancient and most valued herbs in Ayurvedic medicine due to its incredible health benefitting properties. The gum resin contains boswellic acids that are beneficial in inhibiting inflammation-producing leukotrienes in the body. This anti-inflammatory property has been utilised in traditional Ayurveda to treat arthritis and various joint conditions for centuries. In addition to its arthritic benefit, it is also known to be beneficial in treating conditions such as gout, fevers, rheumatism, bronchitis, asthma, cough, colitis, heart issues and many more.
Salai guggul, besides its potent anti-inflammatory effects, is also astringent, diuretic, diaphoretic and acts both as an external and internal stimulant. Modern medicine and pharmacology also acknowledge the potential benefits of Salai guggul as an antiarthritic, anti-inflammatory, hepatoprotective (liver protection), antihyperlipidemic (blood lipids control), and antiatherosclerotic (anti-coronary plaque).
Benefits of Salai guggul:
- Relieves Muscle & Joint Pain: The analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties help reduce Arthritic or Osteoarthritis pain and improves physical function.
- Improves Digestive Health: The anti-inflammatory effects also aid inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) like Crohn’s disease.
- Treats Asthma: The boswellic acids in Salai guggul are known to help suppress inflammation in the airways and inhibit the allergic response that causes asthma reaction.
- Anti-cancer: The essential oil from Salai guggul may help fight advanced cancerous cells and suppress the growth of certain cancer cells.
- Protects the Brain: The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of the herb are known to protect the neurons in the brain and improve motor function.
- Treats Ulcerative Colitis: It helps improve the symptoms of ulcerative colitis
- Supports Skin Health: The rich therapeutic properties of Salai guggul are known to reduce fine lines, roughness, and sun damage on the skin.
- Improves Diabetes: Salai guggul may also help in lowering high blood pressure and high cholesterol level- contributing factors of diabetes.
Salai guggul is generally safe unless taken in high dosage which may result in side effects. Salai guggul may also interact with certain medications so it is always advised to consult with a doctor or healthcare expert before incorporating it into your diet.