Alternate Names

Indian frankincense; Boswellia serrata


Boswellia is a tree that grows in India, the Middle East, and North Africa. It has been used to reduce inflammation in the body. It can be taken as a pill or powder. It can also be applied as a cream.


200 milligrams 2 to 3 times daily.

What Research Shows

Likely Effective

Not Enough Data to Assess

  • Asthma A1
  • Breast fibroadenoma B1
  • Photoaging of facial skin D1
  • Stress incontinence E1

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Safety Notes

It is likely safe to take boswellia for a short time. Ayurvedic medicines like Boswellia often contain heavy metals, which increases the risk of heavy metal poisoning. Not enough studies have been done to say whether it is safe to use for a long period.


Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse.


A. Asthma

A1. Ferrara T, DeVincentiis G, et al. Functional study on Boswellia phytosome as complementary intervention in asthmatic patients. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci 2015 Oct;19(19):3757.

B. Breast Fibroadenoma

B1. Pasta V, Dinicola S, et al. A randomized trial of Boswellia in association with betaine and myo-inositol in the management of breast fibroadenomas. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2016 May;20(9):1860-1865.

C. Osteoarthritis

C1. Cameron M, Chrubasik S. Oral herbal therapies for treating osteoarthritis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014;22(5):CD002947.

C2. Marimifar M, Soltani R, et al. Evaluation of the effect of Elaeagnus angustifolia alone and combined with Boswellia thurifera compared with ibuprofen in patients with knee osteoarthritis: a randomized double-blind controlled clinical trial. Clin Rheumatol. 2017;36(8):1849-1853.

C3. Bannuru RR, Osani MC, et al. Efficacy of curcumin and Boswellia for knee osteoarthritis: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2018;43(3):416-429.

C4. Liu X, Machado GC, et al. Dietary supplements for treating osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Br J Sports Med. 2018;52(3):167-175.

C5. Haroyan A, Mukuchyan V, et al. Efficacy and safety of curcumin and its combination with boswellic acid in osteoarthritis: a comparative, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2018 Jan 9;18(1):7.

C6. Del Grossi Moura M, Lopes LC, et al C. Oral herbal medicines marketed in Brazil for the treatment of osteoarthritis: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Phytother Res. 2017 Nov;31(11):1676-1685.

D. Photoaging of Facial Skin

D1. Calzavara-Pinton P, Zane C, et al. Topical Boswellic acids for treatment of photoaged skin. Dermatol Ther. 2010 Jan-Feb;23 Suppl 1:S28-32.

E. Stress Incontinence

E1. Arkalgud Rangaswamy P, Sultana A, et al. Efficacy of Boswellia serrata L. and Cyperus scariosus L. plus pelvic floor muscle training in stress incontinence in women of reproductive age. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2014 Nov;20(4):230-236.

Last reviewed March 2019 by EBSCO CAM Review Board

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