Medically Reviewed on 6/29/2022

Generic Name: boswellia

Other Names: Indian frankincense, Boswellia serrata

Drug Class: Herbals

What is boswellia, and what is it used for?

Boswellia, also known as olibanum, is an aromatic resin extracted from the Boswellia species of trees native to India, Africa and Arabia. The resin extracted from Boswellia serrata, the Indian frankincense is the species most commonly used for medicinal purposes, particularly in the traditional Indian medicine system, Ayurveda. Boswellia resin is also used for fragrances in religious ceremonies, in the manufacture of soaps and cosmetics, and in foods and beverages.

Boswellia is believed to have anti-inflammatory, antiarthritic and analgesic properties and is used in the treatment of many inflammatory conditions and other disorders, and for pain relief. Studies have shown some evidence of efficacy in inflammation and pain relief, although, results have been inconsistent.

The primary active constituent of boswellia is boswellic acid which has anti-inflammatory properties. Studies show that boswellic acid reduces inflammation and pain by inhibiting 5-liipoxygenase, an enzyme that is involved in the biosynthesis of leukotrienes, inflammatory substances produced by leukocytes. The essential oils and other compounds in boswellia may have antidiabetic, antimicrobial and anticancer activity, however, there is little scientific evidence to support these purported benefits.

Some of the suggested uses of boswellia include:


  • Do not take boswellia if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Boswellia may inhibit the liver enzymes that break down drugs, which can increase the drug effects. Avoid taking boswellia concurrently with other medications unless specifically prescribed by your physician.

What are the side effects of boswellia?

Common side effects of boswellia include:

Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms or serious side effects while using this drug:

This is not a complete list of all side effects or adverse reactions that may occur from the use of this drug. Call your doctor for medical advice about serious side effects or adverse reactions. You may also report side effects or health problems to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.


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What are the dosages of boswellia?

There isn't enough reliable information to know what an appropriate dose of boswellia might be.

Suggested Dosing

  • Follow manufacturer's instructions

General Dosing Guidelines

  • 300-500 mg orally two to three times daily


  • Extract: 333 mg three times daily orally

Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • Extract: 3600 mg/day

Ulcerative Colitis

  • Gum Resin preparation: 350 mg three times daily orally

Bronchial Asthma

  • 300 mg three times daily orally


  • Boswellia does not appear to have any serious toxic effects and overdose may cause gastrointestinal symptoms.
  • In case of overdose, discontinue boswellia and if symptoms don’t resolve, seek medical help or contact Poison Control.

What drugs interact with boswellia?

Inform your doctor of all medications you are currently taking, who can advise you on any possible drug interactions. Never begin taking, suddenly discontinue, or change the dosage of any medication without your doctor’s recommendation.

  • Boswellia has no known severe or serious interactions with other drugs.
  • Boswellia may have moderate interactions with drugs metabolized by the liver.
  • Boswellia has no known mild interactions with other drugs.

The drug interactions listed above are not all of the possible interactions or adverse effects. For more information on drug interactions, visit the RxList Drug Interaction Checker.

It is important to always tell your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider of all prescription and over-the-counter medications you use, as well as the dosage for each, and keep a list of the information. Check with your doctor or health care provider if you have any questions about the medication.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

  • Small amount of boswellia used for food flavoring is possibly acceptable during pregnancy.
  • Boswellia supplements may cause miscarriage, avoid taking if you are pregnant.
  • There isn’t enough information on boswellia use as a supplement in breastfeeding mothers, avoid use.

What else should I know about boswellia?

  • Boswellia is possibly safe for most adults.
  • Take boswellia supplements exactly as per manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Store boswellia supplements safely out of reach of children.
  • Boswellia is marketed as an herbal supplement in the U.S. and is not regulated by the FDA. Products may differ in formulations and strengths, and there may be discrepancy between the labeling and the actual ingredients and their amounts. Exercise caution in choosing your product.
  • Check with your healthcare provider before taking any supplement, including boswellia.


Boswellia is an aromatic resin believed to have anti-inflammatory, antiarthritic and analgesic properties and is used in the treatment of many inflammatory conditions and other disorders, and for pain relief from osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, bursitis, tendonitis, inflammatory bowel disease, asthma, painful menstruation, and increasing urine flow (diuretic). Common side effects of boswellia include stomach pain, heartburn, nausea, diarrhea, headache, general weakness, swelling, itching, and allergic rash with topical use.

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Medically Reviewed on 6/29/2022