Boswellia- Health Benefits, Dosage, and Side Effects

Boswellia is commonly called frankincense. It is a resin extracted from the Boswellia tree. Due to the medicinal properties of this herb, it is used as a medicine for centuries. The native of Boswellia are in Arabia, India, and Africa. Boswellia that are found in India is called Indian frankincense.

It is widely used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat various health problems, and some books say that it is also used in traditional Chinese medicine, the middle east and other tropical regions. Boswellia is rich in boswellic acid and anti-inflammatory properties that effectively treats some inflammatory conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and asthma.

The frankincense also has pain-relieving properties that acts as a good pain reliever when consumed internally. Also it acts as an antiseptic when applying to skin. You can easily get Indian frankincense extract in the form of tablets for internal consumption.

What is Boswellia?

The herbal extract from the Boswellia serrata tree is called Boswellia. The farmers cut the tree to get Boswellia resin. When you burn the Boswellia, it gives a good aromatic flavor, so it is very popular as incense. Due to a wide range of medicinal properties, it is used in herbal therapy in African and Asian cultures for thousands of years. It is used as a mouthwash and also treats menstrual cramps and bad breath.

Common Names of Boswellia

  • Botanical Name: Boswellia serrata
  • Tamil Name: குமஞ்சம் kumancam, பறங்கிச்சாம்பிராணி paranki-c-campi-rani, மரத்துவெள்ளை marattu-vellai, வெள்ளிக்கீரை vellai-k-kirai
  • English Name: Indian frankincense, Indian Olibanum
  • Telugu Name: పరంగిసాంబ్రాణిచెట్టు parangi-sambrani-chettu, గుగ్గిలము guggilamu,సల్లకి sallaki
  • Malayalam Name: കുങ്ങില്യം kungilyam
  • Kannada Name: ಆನೆಬೇಲ Anebela, ಗುಗ್ಗುಳ ಮರ guggula mara, ಕುಂದು Kundu, ಇಡಬೋಲ Idabol, ಚಿಟೆ Chite, ಕುಂದುರು Kunduru, ಚಿಲಕಡಿ Chilakadi, ಚಿಟ್ಟುಂಬೆ Chittumbe, ತುರುಷ್ಕ Turushka, ಚಿಲಕಧೂಪ Chilakadhupa, ಮುಕುಂದ Mukunda, ಮಾದಿ Maadi, ಸುರಭಿ Surabhi
  • Gujarati Name: સલાઈ ગૂગળ salaai gugul, સાલેડી saaledi
  • Hindi Name: kundur, शल्लकी shallaki, luban
  • Marathi Name: धूपसाळी dhupasali, धुपाळी dhupali, सालफळी salaphali, कुरुंद kurunda, साळी sali, साळई salai
  • Sanskrit Name: गुग्गुल guggula, भीषण bhishan, पालंक palank, हस्तिनशना hastinashana, ऱ्हादिनी hradini, पार्वती parvati, सल्लकी sallaki, कुरुन्द kurunda, शल्लकी shallaki, स्रुवा sruva
  • Urdu Name: lobana, kundur


Natural health treatments have used Boswellia for centuries to treat various health problems. Now, researchers have started to check the uses of extract and resins of Boswellia. The active compound of Boswellia is Boswellia acid, which is good for the anti-inflammatory property on the body. Here are some of the health benefits of Boswellia.

Boswellia for Inflammation

The combination of Boswellia and Curcumin gives good support for a healthy inflammatory response. Curcumin is a type of herbal turmeric, which plays an important role in healthy spices. One randomized, double-blind study conducted with 201 osteoarthritis patients proves that both Boswellia and curcumin give good relief from inflammation. Consuming Boswellia and curcumin three times a day for 12 weeks will improve physical performance, and also it helps to reduce joint pain.

Another study conducted with 28 knee osteoarthritis patients has proved that the combination of Boswellia and curcumin with celecoxib acts as an anti-inflammatory drug and is a good remedy for them. The combination of these two herbs will effectively cure the symptoms of osteoarthritis. 

Some animal studies and one human study also found that Boswellia or the combination of the Boswellia with other herbs is a great benefit for rheumatoid arthritis. 

A study conducted with 260 patients proves that the Boswellia supplement reduces swelling, joint pain, and stiffness than the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. The combination of Boswellia, ginger, curcumin, and Withania somnifera will effectively reduce the inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis.

Moreover, you can also use bromelain with this mix. The protein-digesting enzyme extracted from pineapple is considered as bromelain. The anti-inflammatory property of this substance effectively treats joint pain and helps to maintain joint health.
A research conducted with the human proves that the combination of Boswellia with the bromelain helps to improve hip, knee, and other joints osteoarthritis.

Also Read: The Most Effective Spices & Herbs For Inflammation

Boswellia for Arthritis & Pain

One of the important health benefits of Boswellia is, it effectively treats stiffness and joint pain, which are the main symptoms in people who have osteoarthritis of the hip, knee, and hand. Osteoarthritis is an age-related, disabling degenerative joint disorder, which is one of the unresolved inflammation accompanied by decreased mobility, joint pain, etc. It will affect the daily activity in your life.

A research has been conducted with 48 knee osteoarthritis patients, where one set of people consumed Boswellia serrata extract and another set of people have taken placebo for 120 days. The result of the research proves that people who have consumed Boswellia serrata extract showed good improvement in physical function than the placebo consumed people. It effectively reduced their stiffness and joint pain. The medical test also reveals that there is improvement in the knee and joint of people who consumed boswellia supplements. Boswellia is also used to treat markers of inflammation and serum level of C-reactive protein.

In another study with 12 healthy people, the researchers re-create the weight-bearing pain that was caused by osteoarthritis. They give both Boswellia serrata capsules and placebo capsules in the ratio of 1:2 for two weeks. After that, they discontinued the medicine. Patients who consumed Boswellia took a long time to feel pain in their knee joints than those patients who consumed placebo. Boswellia also increases the ability of pain tolerance.

Boswellia for SIBO

SIBO defines small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, which means it is caused when bacterias starts growing in the small intestine. The bacterial growth in the small intestinal causes bloating, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, and nausea. However, no research is conducted to treat this problem using Boswellia. But most integrative health practitioners recommend using Boswellia for SIBO regimens, which is different from inflammatory bowel disease.

Boswellia for Crohn’s Disease & Ulcerative Colitis

Boswellia also helps to treat inflammatory bowel disease. A double-blind study has been conducted with Crohn’s disease patients and compared the use of Boswellia serrata extract and medication mesalazine. The result of this research proves that the boswellia supplement has effectively treated Crohn’s disease. Moreover, it is safer to consume.

Another double-blind study was conducted with ulcerative colitis grade II and III patients. One set of people consumed 350 mg of Boswellia serrata three times a day and another set of people consumed sulfasalazine, a DMARD, which is commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis are inflammatory bowel disease. 

This study proves that Boswellia improves the serum iron level and stool property and reduces the eosinophils level- a type of white blood cell. The high level of eosinophils is a reason for severe diseases. The most impressive thing about boswellia is that 82% of people have got remissioned who consumed boswellia when compared with the sulfasalazine consumed people.

Another study was conducted with 30 colitis people and found that Boswellia serrata has cured rectal bleeding, lower abdominal pain, sigmoid colon, tender descending, and diarrhea. In this study, 20 colitis patients have consumed 900 mg of Boswellia serrata and divided into three doses per day for 6 weeks. 

The other 10 colitis patients have consumed 3 gm of sulfasalazine drug that is also divided into three doses per day for 6 weeks. At the end of the research, 14 Boswellia consumed patients have recovered whereas only 4 sulfasalazine consumed patients have gone into remission.

Boswellia For Asthma

Bronchial asthma is caused by the increase in inflammatory compound leukotrienes. Boswellia blocks the leukotrienes and improves the lung health. A double-blind research was conducted with 40 bronchial asthma patients. In this study, researchers gave 300 mg of Boswellia for 20 people which is divided into three doses and consumed three times a day. While another 20 people with placebo for 6 weeks. As a result, 70% of people who consumed boswellia have got better improvement from bronchial asthma but only 27% of people who consumed placebo got improvement.

Also Read: 10 Best Herbs for Asthma

Boswellia for Parkinson’s Disease

A research conducted in the year 2019 found that Boswellia is a helpful tool to treat Parkinson’s disease. An animal study proves that Boswellia has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that protects the neurons in the brain and improves body functions.

Boswellia For Stress

No one hates the pure smell of natural Boswellia resin. The smoke of pure Boswellia serrata resin makes you feel instantly calm. The Boswellia serrata fragrance is the best stress reliever from ancient days. To use Boswellia, first, you have to collect hot coal in the traditional burner and sprinkle Boswellia over the hot coal. Then, inhale the calming smell of Boswellia serrata. This helps to make your mind calm and relaxing.

Also Read: An Ayurvedic Guide to Stress Management

Boswellia Extract For Diabetes

The Boswellia extract has anti-diabetic property, which helps to lower the blood sugar level. Consuming Boswellia extract makes a great impact in the blood sugar level of diabetic patients. But, it is recommended to consult with the ayurvedic doctor before using Boswellia extract. And diabetic patients should use Boswellia extract only under medical supervision.

Also Read: 10 Scientifically Proven Herbs for Diabetes 

Boswellia Extract for Headaches

Boswellia is a powerful pain-reliever, which helps to get better relief from chronic headaches. It is good especially for people who are suffering from cluster headaches. Usually, cluster headaches are caused by abnormalities in the hypothalamus and it is very painful. It is recommended to use Boswellia extract to treat this problem under medical supervision. 

Because researches have proved that Boswellia extract helps to treat many types of inflammation, like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Boswellia resin has a lot of bioactive compounds called pentacyclic triterpene acids, which give analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. Boswellic acid is a major compound that has the inflammatory response in the herb Due to this, the Boswellia extract effectively treats headaches and gives you peaceful sleep.

Boswellia Serrata For Cancer

Boswellia has a good amount of anti-cancer properties that effectively treats rectal and liver cancer. In Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine, Boswellia is used to treat various health issues. Some recent studies also proved the presence of anti-cancer properties in Boswellia. The bioactive constituents of HCT 116 and HepG2 cell lines reduces the risk of cancer.

Also Read: 10 Best Herbs to Treat Cancer

Boswellia For Cholesterol

Consuming Boswellia will reduce the cholesterol level in the blood. A research conducted with 60 types 2 diabetic patients has proved that consuming 900 mg of Boswellia extract for 6 weeks reduces LDL and increases HDL in the blood. The water-soluble compound lipopolysaccharide and induced nitric oxide in the Boswellia serrata will reduce cholesterol absorption from the food. Thus, this research proves that Boswellia extract has strong hypocholesterolemic properties, which increase the HDL in the blood.

Also Read: Top 10 Natural Herbs & Spices To Lower Cholesterol 

Boswellia Oil For Skin

Boswellia is an essential oil that has strong antiseptic properties, so you can apply this oil on the skin to treat wounds, small cuts, insect bites, acne, scars, itching, and gives you blemish-free skin. But, you should avoid applying the essential Boswellia oil directly to the skin. Mix it with unrefined coconut oil and then apply to the skin. This Boswellia essential oil is also used in some creams and lotions.

Also Read: 10 Best Herbs for Skin

Boswellia Oil for Congestion

Inhaling Boswellia essential oil helps with the blocked nasal passages and gives better relief from chest congestion. Boil water with turmeric powder in a wide pan. Then add a few drops of Boswellia essential oil to it and use this water for steaming. This is a good remedy for chest congestion.

Boswellia for Breast Pain & Mild Breast Lumps

A study of 76 women proves that the betaine, boswellic acid, and myoinositol of the Boswellia serrata will help you to get better relief from breast pain and it reduces mild breast lumps. The treatment using Boswellia reduces 60% breast tissue density. Another test with 64 young women proves that the combination of Boswellia reduces 18% of the total volume of mild breast lumps. Compared to this result, placebo has reduced only 6% of mild breast lumps.

Boswellia for Brain Swelling

A study of 44 brain cancer patients proves that Boswellia reduces radiotherapy-related swelling in the brain. The result shows a 60% success rate. Consuming 3600 mg of Boswellia extract a day for 7 days before the surgery will reduce the fluid around the tumor. 8/12 brain cancer patients have got good results from this treatment. It is 70% of the total value.

Due to this treatment, the possibility of brain damage has been reduced. Another study proves that consuming the ethanolic extract of Boswellia serrata will reduce 22-48% of brain swelling. But the use of this Boswellia is still experimental, so you should use this herb under strict medical supervision.

Boswellia for Liver Protection

In one animal study, scientists found that Boswellia extract can prevent the liver from injuries. When giving Boswellia extract to the NAFLD rats, scientists have found that the extract has shown good results in liver function and insulin sensitivity.

Also Read: 10 Effective Herbs For Healthy Liver Function

Antimicrobial Property

Boswellia has a good level of antimicrobial properties, so it effectively fights against microorganisms like fungi, gram-negative, and gram-positive bacterial strains. The Boswellia resin has antiviral properties, which acts against vesicular stomatitis virus and mosquito-transmitted chikungunya virus.

Boswellia acid reduces biofilm generation, which is caused by the Staphylococcus epidermidis and Staphylococcus aureus. The B. carteri and B. papyrifera species of this herb fight against B. rivaehas and fungi. It shows good results against candida albicans. The diterpenes of Boswellia serrata treat sleeping sickness, which is caused by the malaria-inducing Plasmodium falciparum and Trypanosoma brucei.

Boswellia Oil For Cat, Dog, & Horse

Boswellia has excellent pain relief and anti-inflammatory property. It is also used to treat animals. This herb is a great benefit for arthritis and joint pain in cats. It is also used for dogs and horses for the same reason.

Boswellia Side Effects And Risks

Boswellia is a natural extract, but it also has fewer side effects. Consuming Boswellia for 6 months is completely safe, but if you take this herb for more than six months, it may cause some digestive problems like acid reflux, nausea, diarrhea, bloating, and heartburn. 

It may also have a chance of blood flow in the uterus. When applying Boswellia powder on the skin for 5 weeks in limited dosage, it is good for your skin. But if you use it regularly, you may experience skin rashes. 

Boswellia has a good amount of anti-inflammatory properties that can interact with NSAID. So you should consult your doctor before using it. People who have gastritis reflux disease should avoid using this herb. 

Pregnant women and lactation mothers should also avoid the consumption of Boswellia. This Boswellia Serrata also interacts with some drugs, like antiplatelet and anticoagulant medication drugs. If anyone uses these medications, you should consult with your doctor before taking Boswellia.

Boswellia Dosage

Still, there are no recommended dosages for Boswellia. Various dosage levels are used in the research for different health benefits of Boswellia. For Example, a study conducted for osteoarthritis used 100-1000 mg of Boswellia extract and 300-600 mg of Boswellia extract with a combination of other herbs for daily use.
For Ulcerative colitis research, researchers have used 350 mg of Boswellia extracts and that were divided into three-parts for the three times of daily consumption up to six weeks. The Boswellia cream has 2% of Boswellia extract for skin treatment. It is applied two times per day.

What is Boswellia Complex?

Boswellia complex is a combination of Boswellia, ginger, celery seeds, and turmeric. This herbal complex has a lot of phytochemicals like triterpenes acids, several essential oils, flavonoids, coumarins, yellow pigments, and pungent principles.
The standard level of boswellic acid in the Boswellia component is 180 mg per tablet, and the turmeric compounds have 70.4 mg of curcuminoids per tablet. These Boswellia complexes help in the normal functioning of the kidney and support healthy joints.

What to Look In Boswellia Supplements?

Boswellia is available in many food stores, and Boswellia supplements are available in ayurvedic stores. The herbal formulation of these supplements are the combination of boswellia with turmeric or other herbs.
When purchasing a boswellia supplement, you have to check the quality and purity of it. According to the fact the dietary supplements are unregulated and some products may differ from what they’ve mentioned in the product label.

How to Take Boswellia

Boswellia is available in different forms in the market and it has a great difference in the quality. The Arthritis foundation recommends using 300-400 mg of Boswellia three times per day, this delivers Boswellia acid to the body. Boswellia capsule contains 60% of boswellic acid as an active ingredient.

Most of the retailers sell Boswellia resin and capsules in both stores and online. Sometimes it is possible to get a raw Boswellia resin which is similar to sap. The raw resin has a hard texture. People can extract active ingredients like Boswellia acid from the raw resin and add it to the tablets or capsules. You have the option to choose different types of supplements and extracts from online or store.

Pure Boswellia essential oil can also deliver active compounds to the body. Diluting the essential oil with other oil and applying it to the body will allow the compounds to enter into the skin. Before using the dilute oil all over the skin, you should check for the reaction by applying it on a small area of the skin.

Bottom Line

Boswellia Serrata has a long history of Ayurvedic uses. Early research also proves that it has strong anti-inflammatory properties. It is a promising supportive treatment for various inflammatory disorders like arthritis, joint pain, kidney health, inflammatory bowel disease, skin health, asthma, and brain injury. Most clinical studies and tests with humans have proved that Boswellia has health benefits. The combination of Boswellia with turmeric, or curcumin, or bromelain also enhances your health.

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