Getting Down to Essentials: Boswellia

You may know it by its more common name Frankincense, but to many it’s called Boswellia and it’s been used for centuries in natural health practices in Africa, China, India and the Middle East to reduce inflammation, relieve pain and heal joints and even improve blood flow.

Boswellia comes from the Boswellia serrata tree, which can be found in India, North Africa and the Middle East. Farmers make incisions in the tree to extract extruded gum, which hardens into resin used to make an extract. The resin has a rich scent and flavor. Today, the most traded Boswellia is produced in Oman, Yemen, and Somalia. [1]

Boswellia is a highly valued herb in Ayurveda, the Indian system of medicine, where it has been used an anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic and analgesic agent. Chinese Traditional Medicine uses Boswellia to improve blood circulation and relieve pain. [2] Boswellia can be taken in a capsule pill or tablet as well as a body oil.

Among its many applications, Boswellia is used to:

  • Treat arthritis
  • Help with asthma
  • Treat colitis
  • Reduce swelling and redness from inflammation
  • Protect the skin

Boswellia Research On Pain

Rheumatoid Arthritis: A 2019 study suggested that an active extract of Boswellia may help reduce inflammation in people with Rheumatoid Arthritis.  The study, using animal models, found that the anti-inflammatory effect of Boswellia was less significant than that of a standard prescription medication.  However, researchers noted that the extract might be useful as a complementary therapy to support traditional Rheumatoid Arthritis treatment.[3]

Pain reduction: Boswellia significantly reduced the pain threshold and pain tolerance compared to a placebo in 12 healthy volunteers.[4]


Boswellia Research On Other Medical Conditions

Skin: Topical Boswellic acid also may help in treating photoaged skin. Fifteen female volunteers applied creams with or without Boswellic acids on the half sides of the face once daily for 30 days. Significant improvements of the Dover's global score for photoaging, tactile roughness, and fine lines were observed. The findings seem to indicate that topical application of Boswellic acids may represent a suitable treatment option for selected features of skin photoaging.[5]

Parkinson’s Disease: Another animal model study in 2019, indicated that Boswellia acts as a possible anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agent to protect neurons in the brain and improve the abnormal behaviors and motor asymmetry in Parkinson’s Disease.[6]

IBD: A study published in 2021 indicated that by modulating the immune system, Boswellia had a significant effect on many chronic inflammatory conditions such as Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis.[7]

If you are looking to add Boswellia to your back bar for client muscle and joint pain treatments, you can find it in BIOTONE Muscle & Joint Therapeutic Massage Gel. In addition to Boswellia, the product contains Certified Organic Botanical extracts of Arnica and Devil's Claw combined with essential oils of Eucalyptus, Balsam Peru, and Wintergreen. This gel gives more coverage than oil, so you use much less. Get a smooth, even glide without a greasy feel.




[1] Novkovic, Biljana, “11 Boswellia (Frankincense) Benefits + Side Effects,” September 20, 2021.
[2] Ibid
[3] Kumar R, Singh S, Saksena AK, Pal R, Jaiswal R, Kumar R. Effect of Boswellia Serrata Extract on Acute Inflammatory Parameters and Tumor Necrosis Factor-α in Complete Freund's Adjuvant-Induced Animal Model of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Int J Appl Basic Med Res. 2019;9(2):100-106. doi:10.4103/ijabmr.IJABMR_248_18
[4] Prabhavathi K, Chandra US, Soanker R, Rani PU. A randomized, double blind, placebo controlled, cross over study to evaluate the analgesic activity of Boswellia serrata in healthy volunteers using mechanical pain model. Indian J Pharmacol. 2014;46(5):475-479. doi:10.4103/0253-7613.140570
[5] Calzavara-Pinton P, Zane C, Facchinetti E, Capezzera R, Pedretti A. Topical Boswellic acids for treatment of photoaged skin. Dermatol Ther. 2010 Jan-Feb;23 Suppl 1:S28-32. doi: 10.1111/j.1529-8019.2009.01284.x. PMID: 20136919.
[6] Doaee P, Rajaei Z, Roghani M, Alaei H, Kamalinejad M. Effects of Boswellia serrata resin extract on motor dysfunction and brain oxidative stress in an experimental model of Parkinson's disease. Avicenna J Phytomed. 2019;9(3):281-290.
[7] Ammon HP. Modulation of the immune system by Boswellia serrata extracts and boswellic acids. Phytomedicine. 2010 Sep;17(11):862-7. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2010.03.003. Epub 2010 Aug 8. Erratum in: Phytomedicine. 2011 Feb 15;18(4):334. PMID: 20696559.