Boswellia extract may relieve migraine, cluster and indomethacin-responsive headaches. Boswellia serrata (Indian frankincense) has been long reported to relieve migraines, although I could not find any scientific articles. A study recently published in journal Cephalalgia by Christian Lampl and his colleagues describes four patients with chronic cluster headaches whose headaches improved after taking Boswellia extract. The dose of Boswellia was 350 to 700 mg three times a day. All four patients failed at least three standard preventive medications for cluster headaches, such as verapamil (Calan), topiramate (Topamax), and lithium. It is very surprising that an herbal remedy helps what many consider to be the most painful type of headaches. Dr. Eric Eross reported that Boswellia extract was also reported to help another very severe headache type – indomethacin responsive headache syndrome. Of the 27 patients with this type of headaches who were given Boswellia, 21 responded. The starting dose was 250 mg three times a day and then the dose was increased as needed, although it is not clear what the highest dose was. Indomethacin is a very strong non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, but it also tends to have strong gastro-intestinal side effects.
Finding a safe natural alternative is a very important discovery. Unlike butterbur, Boswellia has no toxic ingredients and is safe to consume in any form. The mechanism of action of Boswellia is not entirely clear, but it seems to have anti-inflammatory properties similar to aspirin. Obviously, it does more than that since aspirin is usually ineffective for cluster or indomethacin-responsive headaches.