Boswellia serrata

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Boswellia serrata
Boswellia serrata (Salai) in Kinnarsani WS, AP W2 IMG 5840.jpg
in Kinnerasani Wildlife Sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh, India.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Sapindales
Family: Burseraceae
Genus: Boswellia
Species: B. serrata
Binomial name
Boswellia serrata
Triana & Planch.

Boswellia serrata is Indian frankincense or Salai referred to in Sanskrit as shallaki. It is found in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh & Andhara Pradesh in India.

Medical usage[edit]

In Ayurvedic medicine Indian frankincense (Boswellia serrata) has been used for hundreds of years for treating arthritis.[1]

Extracts of Boswellia serrata have been clinically studied for osteoarthritis and joint function, particularly for osteoarthritis of the knee, with the research showing a slight improvement of both pain and function compared to a placebo.[2] Positive effects of Boswellia in some chronic inflammatory diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, bronchial asthma, osteoarthritis, ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease have been reported.[3] A Boswellia extract marketed under the name Wokvel has undergone human efficacy, comparative, pharmacokinetic studies.[4][5][6] Some see Boswellia serrata as a promising alternative to NSAIDs, warranting further investigation in pharmacological studies and clinical trials.[7]

Topical application[edit]

Boswellia serrata has been recently developed for topical use in a patent-pending formula in Sano Relief Gel. Boswellia serrata is used in the manufacture of the supposed anti-wrinkle agent "Boswelox",[8] which has been criticised as being ineffective.[9]

Potential for anti-cancer activity[edit]

Boswellic acid, an extract from Boswellia serrata, has been studied for anti-neoplastic activity, especially in experimental primary and secondary brain tumors, indicating potential efficacy from in vitro[10][11] and limited clinical research.[12] Boswellic acid is also undergoing an early-stage clinical trial at the Cleveland Clinic.[13]

Active constituents[edit]

Boswellic acid and other pentacyclic triterpene acids are present. Beta-boswellic acid is the major constituent.

Mechanism of action[edit]

Animal studies performed in India show ingestion of a defatted alcoholic extract of Boswellia decreased polymorphonuclear leukocyte infiltration and migration, decreased primary antibody synthesis and almost totally inhibited the classical complement pathway.[14][15]


Shallaki has potent analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects that can reduce the pain and inflammation of joints. [16]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "JOINT RELIEF". Retrieved 2009-01-12. 
  2. ^ Cameron, M; Chrubasik, S (May 22, 2014). "Oral herbal therapies for treating osteoarthritis". Cochrane Summaries. Retrieved June 6, 2014. 
  3. ^ Ammon HP."Modulation of the immune system by Boswellia serrata extracts and boswellic acids. [Review]" Phytomedicine. 17(11):862-7, 2010 Sep.
  4. ^ Open, randomized, controlled clinical trial of Boswellia serrata extract as compared to valdecoxib in osteoarthritis of knee. Indian Journal of Pharmacology. 2007; 39(1) 27-29
  5. ^ Efficacy and tolerability of Boswellia serrata extract in treatment of osteoarthritis of knee--a randomized double blind placebo controlled trial. Phytomedicine. 2003 Jan;10(1):3-7.
  6. ^ Pharmacokinetic study of 11-Keto beta-Boswellic acid. Phytomedicine. 2004 Feb;11(2-3):255-60.
  7. ^ Abdel-Tawab M, Werz O, Schubert-Zsilavecz M.,"Boswellia serrata: an overall assessment of in vitro, preclinical, pharmacokinetic and clinical data." Clin Pharmacokinet. 2011 Jun 1;50(6):349-69
  8. ^ Wrinkle breakthrough claim from L'Oreal
  9. ^ L'Oreal slammed over cream claims
  10. ^ Acetyl-11-Keto-β-Boswellic Acid Inhibits Prostate Tumor Growth by Suppressing Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Receptor 2–Mediated Angiogenesis
  11. ^ LY294002 Enhances Boswellic Acid-induced Apoptosis in Colon Cancer Cells
  12. ^ A lipoxygenase inhibitor in breast cancer brain metastases
  13. ^ Phase II Randomized Evaluation of 5-Lipoxygenase Inhibition by Herbal Medicine Approach Compared to Control as an Adjuvant Therapy in Newly Diagnosed and Recurrent High-Grade Gliomas
  14. ^ Sharma ML, Khajuria A, 1. Kaul A, et al. Effects of salai guggal ex-Boswellia serrata on cellular and humoral immune responses and leukocyte migration. Agents Actions 1988;24:161-164.
  15. ^ Sharma ML, Bani S, Singh GB. Anti-arthriticactivity of boswellic acids in bovine serum albumin (BSA)-induced arthritis. Int J Immunopharmacol 1989;11:647-652.
  16. ^ (Planta Med. 1971 Apr; 19(4): 333-41 for analgesic and psychopharmacological effects of gum resin of Boswalia Serrata by Memon MK)
  17. ^ Abdel-Tawab M, Werz O, Schubert-Zsilavecz M."Boswellia serrata: an overall assessment of in vitro, preclinical, pharmacokinetic and clinical data." Clin Pharmacokinet. 2011 Jun 1;50(6):349-69