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Herb Information
Name: Boswellia
Biological Name: Boswellia serrata
Other Names: Salai guggal, Boswellin, Indian frankincense, Boswellia
Parts Used: Gum resin
Active Compounds:  

The gum oleoresin consists of essential oils, gum and terpenoids. The terpenoid portion contains the boswellic acids that have been shown to be the active constituents in boswellia. Today, extracts are typically standardized to contain 37.5-65% boswellic acids.

Studies have shown that the boswellic acids have an anti-inflammatory action - much like the conventional nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) used by many for inflammatory conditions. Boswellia inhibits pro-inflammatory mediators in the body, such as leukotrienes. As opposed to NSAIDS, long-term use of boswellia does not lead to irritation or ulceration of the stomach.


In the ancient Ayurvedic medical texts of India, the gummy exudate from boswellia is grouped with other gum resins, which are referred to collectively as guggals. Historically, the guggals were recommended for a variety of conditions, including arthritis, diarrhea, dysentery, pulmonary disease, and ringworm.

Remedies For

Boswellia is used for:

Rheumatoid arthritis

Research conducted in India found that an extract of Boswellia was more beneficial, less toxic, and more potent than the standard drug of choice for rheumatic disorders, Ketoprofen (benzoyl hydrotropic acid). Ketoprofen is preferred over other anti-inflammatories such as indomethacin, phenylbutazone or acetylsalicylic acid.

Boswellic acids (BA) are believed to suppress the proliferating tissue found in the inflammed areas and also prevents the breakdown of connective tissue. The mechanism is similar to the action of non-steroidal groups of anti-arthritic drugs with no side effects, gastric irritation and ulcerogenic activity.

A purified compound of the boswellia is marketed in India with the brand name Sallaki. Many studies conducted since the original study has confirmed that Boswellia serrata has potent anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic activity.

Boswellia was found to improve blood supply to the joints and restore integrity of vessels weakened by spasm.

In a double blind placebo controlled study, 12 patients with osteoarthritis were given a herbal formula consisting of Boswellin, Aswagandha, and turmeric or placebo for three months. The patients were evaluated every two weeks. After a fifteen day washout period, the treatment was reversed with the placebo patients getting the drug and vice versa. The results were evaluated over a three month period. The patients receiving the herbal formula showed a significant drop in severeity of pain and disability score.

Boswellia serrata may also be useful for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis with no side effects from the traditional drugs of choice.


Boswellia (the resin is also known as Indian frankincense) is a moderate to large branching tree found in the dry, hilly areas of India. When the tree trunk is tapped, a gummy oleoresin is exuded. A purified extract of this resin is used in modern herbal preparations.


The standardized extract of the gum oleoresin of boswellia is recommended. For rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, many people take 150 mg three times per day. As an example, if an extract contains 37.5% boswellic acids, 400 mg of the extract should be taken three times per day. Treatment with boswellia generally lasts eight to twelve weeks.


Boswellia is generally safe when used as directed. Rare side effects can include diarrhea, skin rash, and nausea. Any inflammatory joint condition should be closely monitored by a nutritionally oriented physician.

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