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Health Benefits of Boswellia

What Should I Know About It?


Updated May 22, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Salendha or Indian Frankincense, Boswellia serrata.
Mr Elliott Neep/Photodisc/Getty Images

What is Boswellia?

Also known as "Indian frankincense," boswellia (Boswellia Serrata) is an herb commonly used in ayurveda (the traditional medicine of India). Sourced from the resin of the boswellia tree, boswellia extract is rich in boswellic acid (a substance with anti-inflammatory effects).

Health Benefits of Boswellia:

Here's a look at the science behind boswellia's health effects.

1) Colitis

In a 2007 study of 31 people with colitis (an inflammatory bowel disease that results in chronic inflammation in digestive tract), researchers found that those who took 400 mg of boswellia extract three times daily for six weeks were more likely to go into remission than those who took a placebo. In an earlier study, 14 out of 20 colitis went into remission after taking 900 mg of boswellia daily for six weeks (compared to four out of 10 patients who took the medication sulfasalazine for the same amount of time).

Related: Remedies for Ulcerative Colitis

2) Asthma

Boswellia may help relieve asthma, according to a 1998 study. Results revealed that 70 percent of patients who took 300 mg of boswellia three times daily for six weeks showed improvement in their symptoms (including number of attacks), compared with 27 percent of patients in the control group.

Find out about other remedies for asthma.

3) Arthritis

A study published in 2008 suggests that boswellia may reduce pain and boost physical functioning in people with osteoarthritis of knee. An earlier report, released in 2006, indicates that boswellia may be useful in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

Common Uses for Boswellia:

In herbal medicine, boswellia is typically used to treat the following:

  • arthritis
  • ulcerative colitis
  • asthma
  • coughs
  • menstrual cramps
  • Is Boswellia Safe?

    Although boswellia is generally considered safe, its long-term effects on human health have yet to be extensively researched. Therefore, it's important to consult your doctor before using boswellia to treat any kind of medical condition.

    Where to Find Boswellia:

    Available in many health food stores, boswellia is sometimes sold in supplement formulas containing other ayurvedic herbs.


    Ammon HP. "Boswellic acids in chronic inflammatory diseases." Planta Med. 2006 72(12):1100-16.

    Dahmen U, Gu YL, Dirsch O, Fan LM, Li J, Shen K, Broelsch CE. "Boswellic acid, a potent antiinflammatory drug, inhibits rejection to the same extent as high dose steroids." Transplant Proc. 2001 33(1-2):539-41.

    Gupta I, Gupta V, Parihar A, Gupta S, Lüdtke R, Safayhi H, Ammon HP. "Effects of Boswellia serrata gum resin in patients with bronchial asthma: results of a double-blind, placebo-controlled, 6-week clinical study." Eur J Med Res. 1998 17;3(11):511-4.

    Gupta I, Parihar A, Malhotra P, Gupta S, Lüdtke R, Safayhi H, Ammon HP. "Effects of gum resin of Boswellia serrata in patients with chronic colitis." Planta Med. 2001 67(5):391-5.

    Madisch A, Miehlke S, Eichele O, Mrwa J, Bethke B, Kuhlisch E, Bästlein E, Wilhelms G, Morgner A, Wigginghaus B, Stolte M. "Boswellia serrata extract for the treatment of collagenous colitis. A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, multicenter trial." Int J Colorectal Dis. 2007 22(12):1445-51.

    Sengupta K, Alluri KV, Satish AR, Mishra S, Golakoti T, Sarma KV, Dey D, Raychaudhuri SP. "A double blind, randomized, placebo controlled study of the efficacy and safety of 5-Loxin for treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee." Arthritis Res Ther. 2008;10(4):R85.

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