Boswellia For Arthritis, Plus Benefits and Side Effects
What is Boswellia?
Boswellia (Boswellia serrata) is a branching tree that is native to India. It grows in dry, hilly regions of the country and produces a resin that can be extracted and purified for medicinal purposes.
This resin, known as “Indian Frankincense” or “salai guggal,” is used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat a diverse range of conditions.
Natural Arthritis Remedy?
Boswellia extract is best known as an alternative treatment for arthritis. The active ingredients (collectively known as boswellic acids), have been shown to reduce inflammation in in-vitro and animal studies.
Research on human subjects also suggests that Boswellia extract may be beneficial for inflammatory bowel disease, asthma and arthritis, although its superiority to conventional drug treatments has not been fully assessed.
Boswellia preparations can be used topically or taken internally as anti-inflammatory agents, much like NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as aspirin and ibuprofen. Unlike these agents, however, Boswellia extract can be used for significant periods of time without causing stomach upset.
In addition to its anti-inflammatory properties, Boswellia extract has been given “orphan drug” status in Europe for the treatment of peritumoral brain edema. Here in the US, clinical trials are underway to evaluate its use for this purpose.
A recent animal experiment also raised the possibility it could help reduce anxiety/depression.
There is even some preliminary evidence that Boswellia compounds have anti-tumor effects, although much more research needs to be done.
Media headlines such as “Frankincense: Could it be a Cure for Cancer?” exaggerate the significance of these studies—which have been conducted on cultured cells/tissues, not living beings.
Boswellia extract is available in over-the-counter creams, tablets and capsules. An effective product is standardized for boswellic acids.
Side Effects and Drug Interactions
Side effects from using Boswellia extract are rare, but heartburn, diarrhea, skin rash and nausea have been occasionally reported.
There are no known drug interactions or contraindications with the use of the herb. Though Boswellia extract is an effective treatment for pain and inflammation, people who use it for arthritis, colitis or other conditions should continue to be monitored by a physician.
Where to Buy
If you’re interested in experimenting, you have a couple of options…
- Boswellia capsules are affordable and readily available at iHerb.com, one of our recommended online retailers.
- Topical creams are a good option to rub into sore muscles or arthritic areas – you can also find those at iHerb.com.
- Specialized joint care products that contain boswellia as part of a more extensive formula are also worth investigating. As an example, check out Redd Remedies’ Joint Health Advanced + Turmeric & Boswellia or Solgar’s No 7 Joint Support & Comfort.
If you’re not hung up on this ingredient and would like to try a quality anti-inflammatory/arthritis supplement that does not contain it in its formulation, have a look at Xtend-Life’s Not Just Joints.
Other Natural Remedies for Arthritis & Joint Pain
If you’re looking for potent, effective natural remedies for your aches and pains, I’ve recently started a new web site that is partially dedicated to them. At this time, you can read reviews for 14 different natural arthritis remedies by clicking here.
Let me know what you think!
Comments, Reviews, Feedback & Testimonials
Have you used boswellia? How did it work for you? Please share your comments just below! We’d love to hear from you!
Want to read the comments from our visitors? Just scroll down the page a little further… you’re almost there!
June 23, 2013
I’m in looking for something that I can take to cure the inflammatory Arthritis in both hips that will mix with my heart meds.
October 6, 2013
“Heart meds” are a broad category. Try Osteo-biflex.
September 4, 2014
I tried out a travel-sized tube of this some time back and I have fisinhed it. But I kept wanting more of it – it’s like my HG night cream.The scent is woody and calming, the texture is great and it leaves my skin looking bright and radiant in the morning.But alas, I am not buying the full-sized yet as I still have loads of other skincare (incl night cream) to finish up.
April 2, 2015
I find that elimating. All dairy foods and foods from the deadly nightshade family works for me. Replacing dairy products is easy as my local tesco supermarket has a speciality section called ” free from”.
Wheat is one of the forbidden foods (it belongs to the nightshade) but flour can be made from other sources. Trouble is it costs me £2.40p for a small loaf but it is more filling than wheat bread so I eat less. Potatoes I replace with sweet potatoes. A little dearer but nicer tasting cooks quicker and contains lots more VITAMINS and minerals. If you have any problems with this diet then email
[email protected] and if no problems it would be nice to hear if the diet helps you.
It is supposed to take 3 – 4 weeks for the new diet to kick in and the old one to leave your system but it only took a fortnight for me to feel tons better.
February 1, 2014
Have been taking Boswellia for my Fibromyalgia, have taken it along with MSM, and am feeling great. I had been in severe pain every morning pain and stiffness in neck, shoulders and arms to my fingers. Am very thankful to know about Boswellia.
February 6, 2017
Is it safe to take since I am on Warfarin
February 6, 2017
I have seen only references to a very small number of case reports like this:
So maybe… maybe not. As always, it’s best to check with your prescribing doctor – s/he should be able to monitor you for any adverse effects.
March 7, 2014
I am currently taking Warfarin. Will Boswellia affect my Coumadin levels?
March 7, 2014
You’re not the first person to ask this question. For example, it popped up in this comment thread on Boswellia at the People’s Pharmacy, and was responded to thusly:
This is, of course, a conservative response that pretty much describes my own research and feelings on the subject. It’s responsible, in that it conveys the limits of “expert” knowledge and refuses to stray past those limits. Unfortunately, what makes it “responsible” also makes it frustrating, since it fails to give a clear, “no, it has no effect” or “yes, it could have an effect.” But there isn’t enough information available to provide that degree of clarity or certainty. The absence of adverse event reports or other clinical evidence of harm is encouraging, but it provides no hard-and-fast guarantee for individual cases.
For the record, I took another look around, to see if I could find any updates on the topic. I found this adverse event report (http://www.afjem.org/article/S2211-419X%2813%2900144-4/abstract) for a combination product; however the authors attribute the herb-drug interaction to the glucosamine and grapefruit extract – not, specifically the Boswellia. On the other hand, these Italian researchers found two possible cases. They noted:
Unfortunately, no details are given, so we’re left to speculate on whether other ingredients or contaminants were present that also could have contributed to the problem described. And this can be a problem, since dietary supplement products can contain undeclared/unlisted/substituted ingredients.
Under the circumstances, it’s impossible for me to answer “yes,” or “no” – and it would be irresponsible for me to try. Rather, my suggestion is to err on the side of caution. Get a green light from your doctor first (this is always a good idea when combining herbal products and prescription drugs); and then – if s/he approves – choose a single-ingredient product that has undergone 3rd party testing to ensure its purity and quality (see Consumer Labs’ recommendations; or look for products certified by USP or NSF to reduce the risk of (potential) problems with unlisted ingredients.
June 27, 2014
I have been tring to order boswellia serrita extract but can not do so email me at above email address. how I go about ordering.or let me call you please leave your number for I can contact you. david hand.
June 27, 2014
We don’t sell any supplement products here, so there’s no need to contact us about it. If you’re looking for a good place to find Boswellia extract, however, iHerb.com is worth a look: http://www.iherb.com/search?kw=boswellia&x=0&y=0#p=1
January 6, 2015
Shaklee makes an all natural supplement joint health complex with Boswellia extract standardized that works for joint pain tmg and others. For more help with shaklee line of other supplements contact me at [email protected]. Shaklee has independent published landmark studies on their products Steve
August 20, 2014
I am looking for a cream with Boswellia Serrata that I can use to ease the pain of my arthritis. Can you help me?
August 20, 2014
I’m not aware of any creams that contain only Boswellia/Boswellia extract as the active ingredient. There are, however, several blended products out there, that combine Boswellia extract with other ingredients.
Here are a few links from online vendors I trust to provide good service/reasonable prices:
There’s also this product – http://www.iherb.com/Life-Time-Boswellin-Cream-Arthritis-Pain-Relief-4-oz-113-g/57174 which appears to be a re-branded version of this well-reviewed-but-discontinued-item: http://www.iherb.com/Nature-s-Herbs-Boswellin-Cream-Arthritis-Rain-Relief-4-oz-113-g-Discontinued-Item/7212
Another avenue to explore is essential oils made from Boswellia serrata: http://www.amazon.com/Frankincense-Essential-Undiluted-Therapeutic-Grade/dp/B0069SQEDE/
It is also possible to find cosmetic-grade Boswellia extract from retailers of DIY skin care ingredients, like this one: https://bulkactives.com/boswellia-serrata-boswelic-acid.html. In this case, however, you’d have to “roll your own”, vs. buying a prepared, ready-to-use product (Note: I have not ordered anything from this particular company – but it is an example of an alternative approach to finding what you want).
Hope this helps.
January 5, 2016
I have had pain in my right sacroiliac joint muscle for about 8 months from a fall. I have had two facet shots and 2 steroid shots in that muscle and still had pain. I have been with the Shaklee Corporation for 45 years and never tried their Pain Relief Complex, which contains boswella extract. I started using it last week, three in the a.m. It takes about one hour to work and then I have no pain for seven hours. I wish I would have thought about this product 8 months ago.
June 14, 2016
Have you ever known boswelia to lower the heart rate?
June 14, 2016
I have not seen any reports that link Boswellia to bradycardia, or even reductions in heart rate within the limits of what is considered normal. This doesn’t mean that it can’t cause such an effect: idiosyncratic reactions can occur or potentially harmful contaminants/adulterants may be present in specific preparations. Unfortunately, as the saying goes, “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”
July 15, 2016
i started taking Boswellia about 2 weeks ago. Amazing that in 7 days i didnt have to take Nsads or pain pills. It was amazing. I noticed on day 6 and 7 when i woke up i didnt feel like i could not get up… It is not a cure but it sure is nice to feel better than i did upon waking, which was the worst time. Mine is 65% and i take 3 in am and 3 in pm as on bottle.
July 16, 2016
That’s awesome, Connie. Thanks for sharing!