Indian Frankincense

What other names is Indian Frankincense known by?

Arbre à Encens, Arbre à Oliban Indien, Boswella, Boswellia, Boswellia serrata, Boswellie, Boswellin, Boswellin Serrata Resin, Encens Indien, Franquincienso, Gajabhakshya, Indian Olibanum, Oliban Indien, Resina Boswelliae, Ru Xiang, Salai Guggal, Salai Guggul, Sallaki Guggul, Shallaki.

What is Indian Frankincense?

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

Olibanum is another word for frankincense. 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.

Indian frankincense is used for osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, joint pain (rheumatism), bursitis, and tendonitis. Other uses include ulcerative colitis, abdominal pain, asthma, hay fever, sore throat, syphilis, painful menstruation, pimples, and cancer. Indian frankincense is also used as a stimulant, to increase urine flow, and for stimulating menstrual flow.

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

Possibly Effective for...

  • Osteoarthritis. Some studies show that taking certain extracts of Indian frankincense (5-Loxin, Aflapin) can reduce pain and improve mobility in people with osteoarthritis in joints. Research shows that it might decrease joint pain by 32% to 65%.
  • Ulcerative colitis. Taking Indian frankincense seems to improve symptoms of ulcerative colitis in some people. For some people, Indian frankincense seems to work as well as the prescription drug sulfasalazine. Some research shows that it can induce disease remission in 70% to 82% of people.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Aging skin. In early research, applying Indian frankincense cream to the face reduced fine surface lines, roughness, and sun damage in women with sun-damaged skin. Skin coloring and wrinkling were not improved.
  • Asthma. Developing evidence suggests that taking Indian frankincense extract might help asthma.
  • Brain tumors. There is early evidence that suggests Indian frankincense might benefit people with brain tumors. In one study, taking 4200 mg of Indian frankincense daily reduced tumor size.
  • Cluster headache. Limited evidence suggests that Indian frankincense might reduce the frequency and intensity of cluster headaches.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (collagenous colitis). In a small study, taking 400 mg of Indian frankincense three times daily for six weeks reduced disease symptoms.
  • Crohn's disease. There is some evidence that taking Indian frankincense extract might reduce symptoms of Crohn's disease, but research findings have been inconsistent.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Research results are mixed so far about the effectiveness of Indian frankincense in the treatment of RA.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate Indian frankincense for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

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