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Boswellia (Boswellia serrata)

Boswellia (Boswellia serrata)

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


Boswellia is a tree that is native to India, Africa, and Arabia. It is commonly used in the traditional Indian medicine, Ayurveda.

Olibanum is another word for boswellia. It refers to a resin or "sap" that seeps from openings in the bark of several Boswellia species, including Boswellia serrata, Boswellia carterii, and Boswellia frereana. Of these, Boswellia serrata is most commonly used for medicine.

Boswellia is taken by mouth for brain injury, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, joint pain, swelling of the fluid-filled pads in the joints (bursitis), and swelling of tendons (tendonitis). It is also taken by mouth for ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease that affects the colon (collagenous colitis), Crohn's disease, and abdominal pain. It is used for asthma, hay fever, sore throat, syphilis, painful menstruation, pimples, bruises, headache, diabetes, and cancer. Boswellia is also used as a stimulant, to increase urine flow, and for stimulating menstrual flow.

Boswellia is applied to the skin to tone the skin and decrease wrinkles. It is also used to reduce skin damage caused during radiation treatments for cancer.

In manufacturing, boswellia resin oil and extracts are used in soaps, cosmetics, foods, and beverages.

How does it work?

The resin of boswellia contains substances that may decrease inflammation and increase immune response.

Traditionally used for

Skin damage caused by radiation therapy.
Ulcerative colitis.
Aging skin.
Cluster headache.
Inflammatory bowel disease that affects the colon (collagenous colitis).
Joint pain.
Neurological trauma.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA).


By mouth:

For osteoarthritis: 100-1000 mg of boswellia extracts (5-Loxin, Wokvel, or ApresFLEX, formerly known as Aflapin) or 300-600 mg of boswellia extract in combination with other herbs has been used daily.

For ulcerative colitis: 350 mg three times daily for 6 weeks.

By skin:

For skin damage caused by radiation therapy: A cream containing 2% boswellia (Bosexil by Indena SpA) has been applied twice daily during radiation therapy.

Possible Side Effects

Boswellia is SAFE for most adults when taken by mouth for up to six months. Boswellia is SAFE when applied to the skin for up to five weeks. It usually does not cause important side effects. However, some people who took it reported stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea, heartburn, itching, headache, swelling, and general weakness.

Special Precautions & Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Boswellia is LIKELY SAFE when used in amounts commonly found in foods. But don't use it in the larger amounts needed for medicinal effects. Not enough is known about the safety of using boswellia in these amounts during pregnancy or breast-feeding.

"Auto-immune diseases" such as multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), or other immune system conditions: Boswellia might make the immune system more active. This could worsen the symptoms of auto-immune diseases. Avoid using boswellia if you have any of these conditions.

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