Uses of Boswellia

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Boswellia, also referred to as Indian frankincense, is an herb that is popular in ayurvedic medicine. It is obtained from the resin of the boswellia tree. In ancient times this resin was thought to be precious and to this day it is still used in cultural ceremonies in addition to having medicinal purposes. So, what are the uses of boswellia?

Possible Uses

This herb has a variety of purported uses. Before using it, make sure to talk to a doctor. Possible uses include arthritis, asthma, menstrual cramps, ulcerative colitis and coughs.

When examining the uses of boswellia, it is important to know if there is any science to back them up. In a 2007 study of 31 colitis patients, those who were administered 400 milligrams of boswellia extract three times a day experienced remission. They took this for six weeks.

In terms of arthritis, a 2008 study suggests this herb may be beneficial in increasing physical functioning and reducing pain in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee. An earlier report suggests there may also be benefits for rheumatoid arthritis.

In a 1998 study, results show that patients who were administered 300 milligrams of this herb three times a day experienced an improvement in their asthma symptoms. They took this for six weeks and also had fewer asthma attacks.

This herb has been used as a cancer treatment, specifically for brain tumors. However, at this time there is insufficient evidence to prove its effectiveness, therefore, it should not be used in favor of conservative treatments.

Other purported uses may include breathing and lung problems, skin problems, some fungal infections, diabetes, diarrhea and blood disorders.

More research needs to be conducted to determine to overall effectiveness of this herb.

Safety Concerns

This herb is believed to have a lesser chance at causing an upset stomach compared to traditional non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. This herb can, however, cause stomach upset that can range from mild to moderate. In less common cases, patients have reported skin rashes and diarrhea. At this time, no drug interactions have been reported, but there is always a chance one could occur so all patients should tell their doctor about all medications they are taking.

Certain properties in this herb are capable of lowering blood cholesterol. Because of this, any patient taking cholesterol medications may not be able to take this herb because it could be dangerous. Any woman who is pregnant, planning to breastfeed or currently breastfeeding should not use this herb.

Boswellia has not been extensively researched so the possible adverse effects on human health are not fully known.


Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. (2011). Boswellia. Retrieved on March 29, 2011 from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center:

Aetna IntelliHealth. (2008). Boswellia. Retrieved on March 29, 2011 from Aetna IntelliHealth:


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