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Boswellia (Boswellia serrata)
While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.

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]).


  • 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.


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The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

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Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

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Author Information

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Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.