Boswellia serrata (Frankincense)

Boswellia serrata                                  

Common name: Frankincense

Family: Burseraceae

Part used: Bark (Resin)


  • Oleo-Resin (α- and β boswellic acids: tetra and Pentacyclic triterpene acids)
  • Volatile oil (pinene, dipentene & phellandrene)
  • Mucilage & Polysaccharides

Medicinal Actions:


  • Analgesic
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-rheumatic
  • Hepatoprotective



Medical uses:

  • A traditional remedy for wound healing (e.g. bruises and infected sores) and inflammatory diseases in various cultures. The first mention of the use of Boswellia resin as a drug is in the Ebers papyrus, approximately 1500 BC.
  • The resin as incense was used ceremonially and believed to have a tranquilizing effect, and in Ayurveda was considered to have a strong action on the nervous system.


  • Resin (Boswellic acids) have been shown to be specific non-redox and non-competitive inhibitors of 5-lipoxygenase, the key enzyme of leukotriene biosynthesis. In a dose-dependent manner these acids block the synthesis of pro-inflammatory 5-lipoxygenase products, including leukotriene B4 (LTB4), which cause bronchoconstriction, chemotaxis, and increased vascular permeability.
  • Also shown effects on the immune system such as decreased cytokines (interleukins and TNF-α) levels and diminished complement system and leukocyte elastase activities, reduction of ROS formation and P-selectin-mediated recruitment of inflammatory cells.
  • Boswellic acids, the biologically active ingredients of the gum resin, have been shown to be specific, nonredox and noncompetitive inhibitors of 5-lipoxygenase, the key enzyme of leukotriene biosynthesis.


  • Tincture: (1:1. 90%), 1-3 ml TID, 40 ml/week.
  • Capsules: 300-400 mg (standardized to 60% boswellic acids), TID.
  • Tablets: 4:1 extract, 300 mg (DHE 1.2g) 180mg boswellic acids, QID.


  • High resin content may cause stomach upset.


  • None known.


  • May theoretically interfere with the absorption of drugs.
  • Boswellic acids may be best absorbed in the presence of bile acids. Consider dosing along with food.


  • Find a complete list of references for this monograph as well as images and a review of its evidence based applications in Dr. Marciano’s Herbal Textbook.

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