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Boswellia Benefits: Science, History, and Side Effects

The Cabinet — 05.27.24

Hilma ingredient: Boswellia

Boswellia is a lesser-known known herb produced by Boswellia trees native to Africa and the Middle East. Made from the Boswellia serrata gum resin, this interesting and multi-faceted plant is used in essential oils, incense, and for its medicinal properties.

What Are the Origins of Boswellia?

The Boswellia serrata tree has been used as a resource dating far back in history. Some even think that the ancient herb frankincense is actually the resin from Boswellia. It was originally used as a resource for food, shelter, clothing, flavors, fragrances, and medicines. 

The resin has also been used as an adhesive, as well as an ingredient for cosmetics, fragrances for religious ceremonies, and coating materials. There is a history of Hindus, Babylonians, Persians, Romans, Chinese, and Greeks using this plant. The largest grower and user of this plant today is India. 

How Does Boswellia Work?

Boswellia contains naturally occurring triterpenoids, called ‘boswellic acid’, which is a compound that can reduce inflammation. Triterpenoids are considered a precursor to steroids. 

So how does boswellic acid actually work? As Memorial Sloane Kettering explains, the anti-inflammatory activity is the result of the inhibition of 5-lipoxygenase and cyclooxygenase-1. Both are enzymes that contribute to inflammatory responses in our bodies. Boswellia also has potential analgesic (pain relief) properties as it has been shown to inhibit nuclear transcription factor KappaB (NF-KappaB) signaling.

In summary, clinical trials have demonstrated that boswellic acids have anti-inflammatory action similar to that of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). However, unlike NSAIDS, long-term use of Boswellia does not appear to lead to irritation or ulceration of the stomach. 

What Are the Benefits of Boswellia?

Now that you've got a good grasp on how Boswellia works its magic, let's dive into the diverse benefits it brings to the table. Each of these advantages is backed by solid research, offering more than just anecdotal evidence of Boswellia's effectiveness in various health scenarios.

Enhanced Joint Comfort

One of the most celebrated uses of Boswellia is its role in supporting joint health. For those navigating life with joint discomfort, incorporating Boswellia can make a noticeable difference. 

Studies have shown that Boswellia serrata extract may help soothe discomfort and maintain flexibility. This isn't just hearsay; a well-designed clinical study highlighted significant improvements in knee joint comfort among participants after regular supplementation with Boswellia.

Gastrointestinal Wellness

Moving beyond joint health, Boswellia has a notable impact on digestive wellness, too. It's particularly helpful for people dealing with digestive conditions. As an anti-inflammatory herb, it can help to calm the symptoms associated with inflammation, such as ulcerative colitis.

The soothing properties of Boswellia may help maintain a balanced digestive function, reducing discomfort and promoting gut health without the harsh effects often associated with traditional medication.

Respiratory Health Support

Boswellia also steps into the respiratory health arena. For those with breathing conditions, Boswellia can be a breath of fresh air. Its ability to support the respiratory system has been confirmed in several studies.

Natural Skin Care

Turning to skincare, Boswellia’s benefits are just as potent. Its properties may help maintain skin health, reducing the appearance of redness and irritation. It's not just about looking good — Boswellia helps your skin feel good by maintaining its natural balance and supporting the healing processes.

Supporting Cardiovascular Health

Heart health is another area where Boswellia shines. Its impact on cholesterol levels and overall cardiovascular wellness is significant. By helping to maintain healthy blood pressure and supporting good circulation, Boswellia supports a robust cardiovascular system, keeping your heart functioning at its best.

Cognitive and Emotional Health

Lastly, Boswellia has potential health benefits for cognitive and emotional health. Its compounds can influence the brain's health, potentially helping to maintain memory and support overall cognitive functions. Additionally, the calming effects of Boswellia may also extend to mood regulation, helping to maintain emotional balance.

What Should You Consider Before Using Boswellia?

Before you add Boswellia to your daily regimen, it's wise to understand the full picture, including any potential side effects or considerations. 

Here’s what you should keep in mind:

Digestive Sensitivities

While Boswellia is celebrated for its soothing properties, particularly in supporting digestive wellness, it's not without its nuances. Some individuals might experience digestive discomfort, such as mild stomach upset, especially when taken on an empty stomach. Ensuring Boswellia is taken with food can often mitigate these effects.

Interaction With Medications

Boswellia may interact with certain medications, particularly those that affect the body’s normal clotting mechanisms and those involved in managing blood pressure. This herb acts as an inhibitor of specific enzymes and could potentially enhance or reduce the effects of these medications. It's crucial to consult with a healthcare provider before starting Boswellia, especially if you are currently on any prescribed treatment.

Allergic Reactions

Though rare, allergic reactions to herbal supplements like Boswellia can occur. These reactions might manifest as skin rash, itching, or respiratory issues. Starting with a lower dose can help minimize the risk as you monitor how your body responds.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

The safety of Boswellia during pregnancy and breastfeeding isn't well-documented. As a precaution, if you are pregnant or nursing, it’s recommended to avoid the use of Boswellia extracts unless guided by a healthcare professional.

Long-Term Use

Long-term use of any herbal supplement, including Boswellia, should be approached with caution. While Boswellia does not typically cause stomach ulcers or other severe side effects often associated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), it's wise to discuss long-term treatment plans with a healthcare provider to make sure it aligns with your overall health strategy.

Quality and Purity of Supplements

Not all Boswellia supplements are created equal. The efficacy and safety of Boswellia largely depend on the quality of the extract and the presence of active compounds such as AKBA (acetyl-11-keto-β-boswellic acid). 

Look for supplements that clearly state the content of these active ingredients and choose products that are verified by third-party testing to ensure you are getting a pure and effective product.

How Can I Integrate Boswellia Into My Wellness Routine?

Adding Boswellia to your daily regimen can be a game-changer for your health, thanks to its numerous benefits. 

Here are some practical tips to help you incorporate Boswellia effectively into your lifestyle:

Consult Healthcare Providers

Before starting any new supplement, particularly herbal extracts like Boswellia, it's important to consult with a healthcare provider. This is especially true if you are managing health conditions, taking other medications, or if you have concerns about potential interactions or side effects.

Start With Dietary Supplements

One of the easiest ways to include Boswellia in your health routine is through dietary supplements. Boswellia capsules or tablets can be taken according to the dosage recommended on the product label or prescribed by your healthcare provider. 

These supplements are often formulated with other synergistic ingredients like turmeric, glucosamine, or curcumin, enhancing their overall effectiveness, especially for joint health and systemic wellness.

Incorporate Into Your Diet

While Boswellia is primarily available in supplement form, you can explore using Boswellia serrata extract in various recipes. Consider adding a few drops of Boswellia extract to your smoothies, teas, or even your cooking. The extract can pair well with savory dishes that benefit from its slightly resinous, balsamic flavor.

Use in Aromatherapy

Boswellia, often known as frankincense, is widely used in aromatherapy for its calming effects. You can use Boswellia oil in a diffuser to help soothe the mind and calm stress levels. Its aromatic properties are also believed to support the immune system and improve mood.

Topical Applications for Skin Care

For localized benefits, such as minimizing the look of skin redness or promoting a clear-looking complexion, consider Boswellia-infused skincare products. Boswellia creams or serums can be applied directly to the skin. Its soothing properties help maintain skin health and can be particularly beneficial for those looking to naturally support their skin’s appearance.

Monitor Your Body’s Response

Finally, pay close attention to how your body responds as you begin incorporating Boswellia into your routine. This will help you adjust your usage to suit your specific health needs and identify any changes that may require attention.

How Can Hilma Support Your Boswellia Routine?

Exploring the benefits of Boswellia introduces you to a world where ancient wisdom meets modern science, and at Hilma, we bridge this gap with our carefully formulated natural remedies. Our approach is to harness the soothing properties of Boswellia alongside other scientifically-backed ingredients, enhancing your wellness routine with precision and care.

One standout example is our Tension Relief formula, which incorporates Boswellia for its soothing benefits. This product is designed to alleviate occasional head tension, often triggered by stress or long hours in front of screens. By blending Boswellia with ingredients like White Willow Bark and Magnesium, we create a synergy that enhances each component's effectiveness while ensuring your comfort and health.

With Hilma, you're choosing a path that values purity, efficacy, and holistic health. Our products, including those featuring Boswellia, undergo rigorous testing to ensure they meet the highest standards of quality and safety. Embrace the Hilma way of health, where every product is a promise of nature's power, scientifically crafted for your well-being.

Ready to integrate Boswellia into your daily routine? Let Hilma be your guide to a more balanced, health-focused lifestyle where natural ingredients work in harmony to support and enhance your body’s natural functions.

This information is for educational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. Please consult a physician before treating any disorder. 


  1. http://www.medicinehunter.com/boswellia
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3309643/
  3. https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/boswellia
  4. https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/boswellia
  5. https://www.drweil.com/vitamins-supplements-herbs/herbs/boswellia/


Effectiveness of Boswellia and Boswellia extract for osteoarthritis patients | PMC

Boswellic acids/Boswelliaserrata extract as a potential COVID-19 therapeutic agent in the elderly | PMC

Boswellia & Your Brain | Cognitive Vitality | Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation


  1. http://www.medicinehunter.com/boswellia
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3309643/
  3. https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/boswellia
  4. https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/boswellia
  5. https://www.drweil.com/vitamins-supplements-herbs/herbs/boswellia/

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