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Boswellia – Health Benefits, Uses & Side Effects

Boswellia, also is known as the Indian Frankincense, is a type of herbal extract. It is a form of resin that is extracted from the Boswellia tree itself.

The resin has been used for medicinal practices for many centuries. The most prominent action of the extract is its anti-inflammatory effect that is very useful in arthritic conditions.

The anti-inflammatory effect of Boswellia Is derived from the Boswellia acid that is present in many quantities in the extract.

Regions of India, the Middle East, and North Africa are abundant with Boswellia Serrata Tree.

The procedure of collecting the resin is by tapping the tree. The resin has a distinct flavor and smell. It is also prevalent in the form of incense, for which it is termed as frankincense.

Other Names for Boswellia Extract

  1. Indian Frankincense

  2. Olibanum

Health Benefits Of Boswellia

Boswellia Serrata and other similar species of Boswellia are used in the form of essential oils and are burned as incense.

The oil that can be used in food, cosmetic products, and beverages as well

The extract is used for its medicinal properties in Ayurveda. The extract can be ingested from the mouth or can be applied topically to get the desired effects. It is used in the following conditions
  1. Asthma
  2. Arthritis
  3. Crohn’s Diseases
  4. Cramps such as Menstrual Cramps
  5. Ulcerative Colitis.

Some of the studies have suggested that Boswellia has the tendency for anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic effects, but clinical trials might be required to prove these effects scientifically.


1. Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a widespread degenerative disease that affects the knee joint. The gum extracted from the Boswellia tree has been known to produce anti-inflammatory effects along with the anti-arthritis effects.

This was proved with the help of a study conducted in 2003. The study was carried out with the help of 30 patients that had osteoarthritis. The patients were divided into two groups.

One group was given placebo tablets, whereas the other was given the Boswellia extract tablets. The group reported improvement in the condition after eight weeks of taking the Ayurveda tablets.

2. Inflammatory Bowel Disease

The herb poses anti-inflammatory properties, which is why it is helpful in inflammatory conditions. Examples of these diseases include Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

According to the Journal of Gastroenterology proved that Boswellia serrate extract was helpful in patients that had active Crohn’s disease. The study consisted of 102 patients who were involved in a double-blind clinical trial.

The trials were concluded with the observation that the symptoms of Crohn’s were significantly reduced in patients.

3. Rheumatoid Arthritis

Just like osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid arthritis is also a lifelong condition of inflammation of joint bones.

The disease requires constant management with the help of anti-inflammatory medication. If not properly managed, the disease leads to deterioration of joint bones.

Due to the extensive side effects of anti-inflammatory effects, scientists have tried looking into Ayurveda medicines. This is where the Boswellia Serrata extracts play its role. Boswellia Serrata causes a significant reduction in inflammatory mediators.

This was proved in a study carried out on rats in the year 2014 by a group of researchers.

They also anti-inflammatory that this anti-inflammatory effect of the extract might be due to its effect on the immune system.

4. Asthma

Asthma is an allergic reaction that is due to a deficiency of the immune system. The attack occurs when an inflammatory response is triggered that activates the inflammatory cells. Asthma is one of the most commonly occurring diseases.

It damages the bronchioles. It results in difficulty to breathe.

The study carried out on mice in 2015 showed that Boswellia not only reduced the severity of asthmatic attacks. It was also useful in completely curing the disease in some cases.

5. Cancer

Cancer is a prominent menace in society. It can affect different organs. The Boswellia extract has been a focus for many researchers since it is known to produce anti-tumor effects.

Various researches claim that the extract is used to treat breast cancer, leukemias, pancreatic tumors, and brain tumors.

One such research carried out in 2008, was carried out on mice that were induced for the promotion of tumors. Boswellia ingestion in these mice subjects resulted in a decrease of tumor markers that produce leukemia in humans.

Unfortunately, most of these researches are carried out on mice. It is, therefore, necessary that these effects be studies on human subjects to confirm these effects.

Side Effects of Boswellia

Since Boswellia Extract is an Ayurveda medicine, it has very minimal side effects. The drug is supposedly safe when taken by mouth for six months. When applied topically, it is generally considered safe up until a period of five weeks. The most common side effects observed in the patients include;

  1. Diarrhea
  2. Nausea
  3. Pain in stomach
  4. When the extract is applied topically, it might produce rashes on the skin.

The side effects may differ depending on the person taking it. However, if any side effects occur, then it is better to consult your physician to get a better look at it.

The extract might interact with other medications such as NSAID’s. Therefore in case, the patient should refer to their general practitioner if they are taking other types of medications.


Boswellia is one of the many useful extracts available in herbal medicines. It has numerous health benefits. It is also helpful in conditions that are chronic and in cases where the usual medicines stop producing their effects. It is an active anti-inflammatory agent.

The effects of Boswella extract are researched but require further concerns so that the true effects of the extract on humans can be studied. The side effects are minimal and are negligible.

The drugs, however, should be taken with caution with other medications. Since it may affect the properties of those other medications. It is best to ask for the recommended dose by the general practitioner.

In case any severe side effects are observed, it is better to discontinue the medication and consult the doctor.

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