Boswellia: A Natural Way to Fight Inflammation

What is Boswellia serrata?  

It has been used for thousands of years and is one of the most valued herbs in Ayurveda medicine, a form of alternative medicine.  Boswellia is a tree native to the dry, mountainous regions of India, Northern Africa, and the Middle East. The gum-resin from the bark of the boswellia tree is tapped from an incision made on the tree trunk and is then stored in specially made bamboo baskets to remove the oil content and solidify the resin. Compounds within the gum-resin called pentacyclic triterpenic acids provide Boswellia serraI ta’s fabulous anti-inflammatory effects (1, 2). 

Believe it or not, Boswellia serrata’s anti-inflammatory properties have been compared to those of NSAIDs used by many for inflammatory conditions (3).

How does Boswellia serrata work as an anti-inflammatory?

It inhibits leukotrienes, which are pro-inflammatory in the body.

How does it inhibit leukotrienes?

By inhibiting 5-lipoxygenase, the key enzyme of leukotriene production.

Animal studies and pilot clinical trials support the potential of Boswellia serrata gum resin extract for the treatment of a variety of inflammatory diseases like inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and asthma (4).

A clinical trial conducted at UC Davis has shown Boswellia serrata extract can reduce pain, considerably improve knee-joint functions, and in some cases provide relief even within seven days (5).   

A breakthrough study found that Boswellic acids used topically are just as effective as when taken orally as an anti-inflammatory treatment (6).

Bottom Line: Research on the use of Boswellia serrata as an anti-inflammatory are abundant. It’s worth taking to your health care provider if you think Boswellia serrata is something you may benefit from.

In Health and Happiness,

Kelly Harrington, MS, RD

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods


1.  Ammon HP.  Boswellic acids (components of frankincense) as the active principle in treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases.  Wien Med Wochenschr.  2002;152(15-16):373-8.

2.  Siddique MZ.  Boswellia serrate, a potential antiinflammatory agent:  an overview.  Indian J Pharm Sci.  2011 May;73(3):255-61. 

3.  Safayhi H, Mack T, Saieraj J, et al. Boswellic acids: novel, specific, nonredox inhibitors of 5-lipoxygenase. J Pharmacol Exp Ther 1992;261:1143–6.

4.  National Products Foundation:  Boswellia.

5.  Raychaudhuri S, et al.  Indian herb hope for arthritis relief. The Telegraph Calcutta, 4 August, 2008. p. 7.

6.  Singh S, Khajuria A, et al.  Boswellic acids:  A leukotriene inhibitor also effective through topical application in inflammatory disorders.  Phytomedicine.  2008 Jun;15(6-7):400-7.  

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