11 Amazing Benefits of Boswellia Serrata

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

For anyone looking for new and exciting natural remedies, Boswellia serrata has become extremely popular in recent years. Before adding this herbal remedy to your health regimen, it is crucial to understand the source, the uses of this herb, and the potential health benefits it represents.

What is Boswellia Serrata?

Scientifically known as Boswellia serrata, this is not only the name of the herb but also of the large tree native to India and parts of Pakistan. This tree is most famous for producing Indian frankincense, a common name of the herb, which may also be known as salai or shallaki. The entire Boswellia genus is referred to as frankincense, but this particular species has been praised for the resin it produces. When this gum resin is removed from the tree, it is often burned for aromatic purposes or used in medical applications. Boswellia serrata is legendary in Ayurvedic medicine, as it is associated with powerful anti-inflammatory properties and a wide variety of other health benefits. [1]

For more formal applications, the resin of the tree is allowed to harden and is then processed into various supplements, beverages, cosmetics, and soaps, all of which have the efficiency to deliver notable benefits for regular users. This herbal concoction can be found in natural health stores and from trained herbalists. Boswellia serrata is a rich source of boswellic acid, as well as various types of terpenes, which have a range of effects on the body. [2]

Benefits of Boswellia Serrata

Some of the top benefits of Boswellia serrata include its ability to soothe symptoms of arthritis, lower inflammation, prevent autoimmune disease, speed wound healing, boost muscle strength, prevent headaches, and support skin health.

A bottle of boswellia serrata kept on the table with some spilling on the table

Boswellia serrata has been used for a long time in Asian and African medicines. Photo Credit: Shutterstock


Perhaps the most well-known health benefits of Boswellia serrata is the impact it can have on inflammatory conditions, such as osteoarthritis. Numerous studies have linked the regular use of this herb to the inhibition of certain inflammatory enzymes in the body, including cytokines, which can cause joint pain and discomfort. For people suffering from arthritis and other inflammatory issues, daily use of Boswellia can improve the quality of life and soothe the majority of associated pain. [3]

Wound Healing

In Ayurvedic tradition, Boswellia has been used to heal both internal and external wounds. Topical applications are able to stimulate circulation to the wound and speed healing, while also protecting the wound from infection. When supplements or beverages with Boswellia serrata are consumed, it can help accelerate the recovery time for extended injuries or illness. [4]

Immune System

One of the recent discoveries related to this herb is the effect it can have on lymphocytes and T-cells within the body. These are crucial immune system components that can affect the severity and response time of the immune system. When Boswellia serrata is regularly consumed, it can optimize the immune system to more effectively respond to foreign substances and infectious pathogens. [5]

Autoimmune Disease

Some research has shown that Boswellia is able to strengthen the immune system and make it more resistant to autoimmune diseases. Widely known as some of the most devastating diseases to manage and overcome, daily use of Boswellia serrata can help reduce your risk of diseases like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and other chronic diseases. [6]

Skin Health

Although the nutrient content of this herb is somewhat limited to its active ingredients, namely boswellic acid, it does hold some antioxidant abilities for the skin. The herb has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for the treatment of skin inflammation and irritation and is known to improve the appearance of wrinkles, age spots, and blemishes, while also boosting the elasticity of the skin. [7]

Prevent Headaches

Headaches are a form of inflammation that few people consider, but swollen capillaries in the head, near the temples, are a major cause of headaches and migraines. Research on the Ayurvedic use of this herb has shown that it can quickly and consistently soothe the pain of headaches in most patients. [8]


Anecdotal evidence from Ayurvedic tradition shows that using this herb, particularly when it is burned as an aromatic compound, can help to reduce anxiety and lower levels of chronic stress hormones in the body. This is attributed to the presence of triterpenes in the body, which can impact the production and release of key neurotransmitters in our system. [9]

Muscle Strength

The reduction in inflammation of the joints and muscles of the body is only part of Boswellia’s impact; this can also allow for more intense workouts and increased energy, which will result in better muscle tissue metabolism and a notable boost in endurance while exercising.


Boswellia serrata has been directly connected to reducing inflammation in the gut, which is the cause of many digestive problems, from Irritable Bowel Syndrome to constipation and stomach upset. By eliminating this inflammation, thanks to boswellic acid, nutrient uptake efficiency can be improved and symptoms of diarrhea, bloating and cramping can be relieved, in addition to a lower risk of gastric ulcers and other chronic conditions. [10]

Hormone Balance

All frankincense varieties, particularly when used in extract or essential oil form, are known to rebalance hormones throughout the body. This can help to improve mood and stress levels, while also optimizing the metabolism, reducing the severity of menstruation and improve processes for energy metabolism, among others. [11]

Analgesic Abilities

The pain-killing abilities of Boswellia serrata are closely tied to its legendary anti-inflammatory properties. Along with inhibiting the release of inflammatory enzymes and compounds in the body, it also impacts the triggering of pain receptors in those joints and muscles. This can improve the quality of life and keep you feeling young and healthy as you age when consumed in moderate amounts. [12]

Uses of Boswellia Serrata

This herb is used in many different forms, given its unique source and composition. As mentioned above, Boswellia serrata (the herb) is acquired by collecting the gum resin from the tree of the same name and then allowing it to dry before processing it. From that point, it can be burned for aromatic or aromatherapy purposes, but the dried resin is also included in various supplements and products that are widely available. [13]

This resin can also be added to various beverages and foods, given its mild flavor, and is also available in a pure extract form, which is used in various forms as a natural health remedy. It comes in topical forms, which can be applied to painful or inflamed parts of the body, as well as in a diluted mouthwash form. Some women use Boswellia serrata as an ingredient in natural cosmetics, and in religious tradition, this herb is used as a type of incense.

Side Effects of Boswellia Serrata

Despite the remarkable health benefits of this herb, Boswellia serrata is associated with various concerning side effects, such as gastrointestinal problems, skin rash, and potential liver damage. However, most of these side effects only appear when Boswellia serrata is used in high concentrations; moderate use is rarely associated with negative side effects.

  • Stomach Issues – Excessive consumptions of Boswellia serrata has been associated with a number of gastrointestinal problems, ranging from bloating and cramping to diarrhea and nausea. When taken in normal quantities, however, in the recommended supplement levels, these unpleasant side effects can be avoided.
  • Skin Inflammation – Boswellia serrata can be used topically and is a common ingredient in traditional preparations of makeup and cosmetic products, but it can result in skin inflammation in some people. These types of allergic reactions are relatively rare and can be avoided by using small amounts of these products first and waiting to see if any negative reactions occur. [14]
  • Liver Damage – In a rare number of cases, typically when an excessive amount of Boswellia is consumed, it can impact the function and health of the liver. This can manifest in poor toxicity management and a number of other side effects, but recommended amounts of this herb should not harm the liver in any way.
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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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