Boswellia (Boswellia serrata)


Boswellia has been used in Africa and India for many years. Frankincense also comes from a boswellia species. Boswellia has been used for well-being, skin disorders, infections, wound healing, joint problems, menstrual disorders, and bruises. Boswellia has been used to tone the skin and smooth wrinkles.
Today, boswellia is widely available and is often used to treat inflammation. Research has focused on its possible benefit for conditions such as arthritis, inflammatory bowel diseases, and asthma. Boswellia may also have anti-cancer effects.
There is strong evidence to support the use of boswellia for osteoarthritis. There is good evidence to support its use for asthma and swelling in people who have brain tumors. However, evidence is lacking for other uses.
Side effects involving the stomach have been reported with boswellia use.

Related Terms

2-O-acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid, 3-O-acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid (AKBA), 3-acetyl-alpha-boswellic acid, 3-acetyl-beta-boswellic acid, 3-alpha-acetoxy-tirucallic acid, 3-beta-acetoxy-tirucallic acid, 3-oxo-tirucallic acid, 5-Loxin®, 11-keto-beta-boswellic acid, acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid (AKBA), Aflapin®, African elemi (Boswellia frereana), Afrikanischer Weihrauch (German), Afrikanischer Weihrauch-Baum (German), Afrikanischer Weihrauchbaum (German), albero dell'incenso (Italian), alpha-boswellic acid, Arabian incense (Bakhour), árbol del incienso (Spanish), arbre à encens (French), arbre à encens d'Afrique (French), arbre à encens de l'Inde (French), bakhor (Arabic), beta-boswellic acid, Bible frankincense, Bible incense (Boswellia carterii), birdwood, bosvelliia kartera (Russian), bosvelliia mil'chataia (Russian), Boswellia carterii, Boswellia dalziellii, Boswellia frereana, Boswellia ovalifoliolata, Boswellia papyrifera, Boswellia sacra, Boswellia serrata, Boswellia serrata gum resins, Boswellia serrata non-volatile oil, Boswellia serrate resin extract, boswellic acids, boswellic acid acetate, boswellie (French), BSB108, Burseraceae (family), carterii, dhup, diterpenes, elephant-tree, fan hun shu (Chinese), frankincense, Frankincense der Weihrauch (German), furankinsensu (Japanese), gajabhakshya (Sanskrit), guggals, H15®, incensole acetate, Indiai tömjénfa (Hungarian), Indian frankincense, Indian olibanum tree, indish incense, Indischer Weihrauch (German), kundur luban (Hindi), magher (Arabic), Mexican bursera, mirafur (Somali), mogar (Arabic), monoterpenes, moxor (Somalia), mughur (Arabic), nopane, ogaden etan (Amharic), oleogum resins, oleo-resin, olibán (Spanish), olibano (Italian), olibanum, pentacyclic triterpenic acids, pentacyclic triterpenoid, røgelsestræ (Danish), rökelseträd (Swedish), ru xiang (Chinese), ru xiang shu (Chinese), saagjas viirukipuu (Estonian), sacra, salai (Hindi), salai gugaal (Hindi), salai guggal (Hindi), salai guggulu (Sanskrit), sallai guggul (Hindi), Sallaki®, sanlaki (Thai), S-compound®, sesquiterpenes, shallaki (Sanskrit), Sudanese frankincense, triterpenoids, ubani (Swahili), Weihrauchbaum (German), Weihrauchpflanze (German), wierookboom (Dutch), wierookboom soort (Dutch), yagar (Somalia), ye ru xiang shu (Chinese), yigaar (Somalia).
Combination product examples: Articulin-F® (Withania somnifera [ashwagandha], Boswellia serrata, Curcuma longa [turmeric], zinc complex); RA-1 (Withania somnifera [ashwagandha], Boswellia serrata, Zingiber officinale [ginger], Curcuma longa [turmeric]), BHUx (Termenalia arjuna, Strychnox nux vomica, Boswellia serrata, Commiphora mukul, and Semecarpus anacardium), RA-1® (an herbal mixture of Boswellia serrata, Withania somnifera [ashwagandha], Zingiber officinale [ginger], and Curcuma longa [turmeric]).

evidence table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Osteoarthritis (Grade: A)
Boswellia has been found to have anti-inflammatory effects. It has been used to treat osteoarthritis and is supported by strong evidence.
Asthma (Grade: B)
Boswellia has been studied as a therapy for chronic asthma. Studies suggest that it may improve breathing and reduce wheezing. Although promising, more research is needed to determine the long-term safety and effectiveness of boswellia. Avoid using boswellia for asthma attacks.
Brain tumors (Grade: B)
Boswellia has been used as a cancer treatment. Many studies suggest that it may have anti-cancer benefits and may reduce swelling in the brain. More high-quality research is needed before further conclusions can be made.
Blood circulation (Grade: C)
Treatments containing boswellia has been taken by mouth and applied to the skin. These have been found to improve blood circulation, reduce pain, and decrease swelling. More research is needed to determine the effects of boswellia alone.
Crohn's disease (Grade: C)
Studies have shown that boswellia may have anti-inflammatory benefits. Boswellia has been suggested as a treatment for Crohn's disease. Although some positive effects have been shown, more research is needed before firm conclusions can be made.
Headaches (Grade: C)
Boswellia may help reduce headache intensity and frequency in people who have chronic cluster headaches. However, more research is needed in this area.
Intestinal inflammation (Grade: C)
Studies have shown that boswellia may have anti-inflammatory benefits. Boswellia has been suggested as a treatment for inflammation of the intestine. There have been positive effects on symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease. However, results are mixed, and more evidence is needed in support of boswellia for this use.
Prostate inflammation (Grade: C)
Research suggests that Proxelan®, which contains boswellia, may improve chronic prostate inflammation. More research is needed on the effects of boswellia alone.
Rheumatoid arthritis (Grade: C)
Studies have shown that boswellia may have anti-inflammatory benefits. Boswellia has been suggested as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. One review reports that the boswellia extract H15® lacks effect on acute pain, but may relieve swelling and stiffness. Combination products containing boswellia (RA-1® and Articulin-F®) have also been studied for rheumatoid arthritis. More evidence is needed to support the use of boswellia for this condition.
Skin aging (Grade: C)
Early study suggests that a cream containing boswellia may help reduce skin aging. More high-quality research is needed in this area.