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Boswellia: effect, application & possible side effects

There are many medicinal plants in nature that can help humans and animals with various ailments. One of these is called Boswellia – better known as: Frankincense. This article explains what it is and what effect boswellia has.

What is boswellia and what types of boswellia are there?

Boswellia may sound very strange to some at first. Most people are probably more familiar with its other name – frankincense. Whilst most people know it from the church, it also plays an important role in medicine. It is considered a medicinal plant and is used for various ailments.

There is by no means just one type of frankincense. There are three main types of Boswellia for use in the health sector:

– Boswellia serrata

– Boswellia carterii and Boswellia papyrifera

– Boswellia sacra

– Boswellia dalzielii

The names indicate the region from which the respective incense comes. Boswellia serrata comes from India, while Boswellia carterii and Boswellia papyrifera grow in the Horn of Africa . Boswellia sacra comes from Arabia and Boswellia dalzielii from Nigeria.

Frankincense is air-dried resin. This is harvested from the frankincense trees. These are trees that grow to a height of 1.5 to 8 metres and are mainly found in dry regions. After the not entirely uncomplicated harvest, boswellia resin is purified and prepared for further processing.

Boswellia is not only popular for its effect on physical complaints, but is also used in other ways. These include, above all, smoking the resin or producing fragrances. There are 25 different species in total, but not all of them are relevant to medicine.

The active ingredients of Boswellia

What makes Boswellia serrata so popular in medicine and naturopathy are the boswellic acids AKBA and KBA it contains. But what does boswellic acid do in the body?

AKBA and KBA have the ability to reprogramme an inflammation-promoting enzyme – called 5-lipoxygenase – in the body. As a result, it suddenly has exactly the opposite effect – namely anti-inflammatory. This makes frankincense a versatile remedy for various ailments.

For a very long time, the effects of frankincense were only attributed to the boswellic acids. However, it is now known that incensol and incensol acetate also have an anti-inflammatory effect.

In fact, frankincense has a number of ingredients that together produce positive effects. In order for boswellia to exert its effect on the body, an extract is obtained that is used in food supplements or products for external use.

Boswellia and its diverse effects

Boswellia serrata is particularly well known in Ayurvedic medicine and is used for various ailments. Boswellia is available in the form of capsules, ointments and creams – but what are the actual effects of frankincense? There are several areas of application in which the resin extract is used:

– Skin complaints

– Joint complaints

– intestinal complaints

– Cancer diseases

– Boswellia for pets

The effect of Boswellia serrata on the skin

Boswellia is considered an effective anti-inflammatory. And what causes skin blemishes? Clearly: through inflammation! Anti-pimple creams with boswellia extract can have a calming effect on the skin. This naturally alleviates blemishes, rashes and itching. Frankincense can also prove helpful for psoriasis.

Boswellia serrata as a miracle weapon for joint diseases

Ailments affecting joints and cartilage can severely restrict those affected. The pain and restricted movement are often so severe that it is no longer possible to carry out everyday activities properly. But can Boswellia serrata help?

Frankincense is actually a popular remedy for joint diseases. It is said to be able to promote mobility and alleviate pain. This is due to the anti-inflammatory effect of Boswellia serrata. Even osteoarthritis patients are often given either Boswellia serrata ointments for topical application or preparations to take orally.

Boswellia serrata is also often used as a preventative measure to support the normal function of cartilage and bones. The extract can also promote the formation of connective tissue, which is absolutely essential for movement.

The combination of cucurmin contained in turmeric plus boswellia is particularly popular for an even more comprehensive effect. Turmeric also supports the immune system, which is why the combination is primarily used for rheumatic complaints such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Healthy gut thanks to boswellia

The effect of Boswellia serrata or frankincense is also evident in the intestines. It is therefore not surprising that preparations are used for chronic inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Some patients who are dependent on taking medication with many side effects for the rest of their lives have been able to slowly phase them out and replace them with frankincense. Nevertheless, you should never act against medical advice and first find out in detail whether Boswellia serrata is also suitable in your individual case.

Does boswellia have an effect on cancer?

The resin of the frankincense tree is also being mentioned more and more frequently in relation to cancer. Whether boswellia is really effective against cancer is still being researched. So far, there have only been a few clinical studies on patients with brain tumours and other cancers, so that frankincense preparations should not be relied on for such diseases.

Boswellia for dogs and horses

As a natural product , Boswellia serrata can also be used for pets. Dogs, cats and horses in particular can suffer from joint problems. Special capsules with Boswellia serrata extract are suitable in this case. The effect in dogs and horses is similar to that in humans: Joint wear and tear should be prevented and joint problems should be alleviated. The dosage of Boswellia serrata for dogs and horses should always be discussed with a vet. It is also not recommended for pregnant animals.

Taking Boswellia – what you should bear in mind when using it

How can you take boswellia and reap the benefits? Taking Bowellia frankincense capsules is recommended. To ensure a positive effect, you should pay attention to the quality of the respective product. Boswellia serrata can vary greatly in quality.

Boswellia food supplements may also contain other ingredients. Kingnature, for example, uses a combination of the following nutrients:

Vitamin C



When buying food supplements, you should always make sure that they are made from natural ingredients. Kingnature relies on high-quality ingredients that can be easily absorbed and processed by the body.

And what is the dosage of Boswellia serrata? This should always be customised to the individual patient. Depending on the preparation, the manufacturer usually specifies which dosage is recommended and when.

In order for frankincense to develop its full effect in the body, the capsules should be taken shortly after or during a meal. This is because boswellic acids are fat-soluble. The bioavailability can be increased by taking them correctly. Possible side effects such as stomach complaints can also be prevented.

Are there any interactions with boswellia?

Interactions are undesirable effects that can occur when different preparations are taken at the same time. Boswellia serrata is hardly known to interact with other preparations. Only drugs that are transported by P-glycoprotein can cause problems. It is also not recommended for use with anticoagulants.

Anyone who is therefore dependent on the regular intake of appropriate medication should first discuss with their doctor whether the additional intake of Boswellia serrata products could cause problems.

Boswellia capsules – are there any known side effects?

Possible side effects of Boswellia serrata capsules include nausea and heartburn. Allergic reactions can also occur if those affected are allergic to frankincense. However, side effects usually only occur if the dosage is incorrect.

Conclusion: Boswellia has a multifaceted effect

From the skin to the intestines to the joints – the effect of boswellia is amazing and diverse. The Boswellia serrata type of frankincense in particular has a strong effect. When taking it, it is important to follow the instructions for intake and dosage. In addition, consumers should only use high-quality preparations to avoid any undesirable side effects. Boswellia is unsuitable for people with frankincense allergies.