Boswellia serrata (frankincense) is a dietary supplement that may have some benefits for muscle, joint and tendon health, as well as healthy digestion and respiration.

Boswellia serrata, commonly known as frankincense, is a branching tree found in India, northern Africa and the Middle East. Beneath the Boswellia bark is a gummy resin. This resin contains substances that can decrease pro-inflammatory chemicals in various parts of the body.* Extracts of Boswellia resin are used in integrative medicine to support muscle, joint and tendon health, and for healthy digestion and respiration.*

Boswellia appears to offer several possible health benefits.* It can provide relieve from occasional aches and soreness in muscles, joints, ligaments and tendons, as demonstrated in a study involving healthy rugby players experiencing knee stress.* Evidence also suggests that Boswellia promotes a healthy gastrointestinal tract and respiratory tract.*

There are no dietary sources of Boswellia. The extract is not used in cooking because of its pungent, soap-like taste. Boswellia is taken as a dietary supplement.

Supplemental Boswellia can support your health in several ways:

  • Helps maintain a healthy balance of pro-inflammatory chemicals in muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments, as well as the digestive tract and respiratory tract*
  • Provides relief from occasional aches and soreness*
  • Supports easy breathing*
  • Helps maintain a healthy balance of pro-inflammatory chemicals in the intestinal lining*

How much Boswellia to take depends on its form. Boswellia is sometimes combined with phospholipids in what is called a phytosome, a combination that is designed to increase its absorption.* Studies using a phytosome preparation (Casperome®) demonstrate effectiveness at amounts of 250 to 500 milligrams (mg) daily. On the other hand, for Boswellia that is not part of a phytosome formula the recommended amount can vary widely, depending on the concentration of the active ingredients. Follow the suggested use on the product label.

The most common side effects observed are nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Burping up a slightly acidic, soapy taste has also been reported. The safety of taking a Boswellia dietary supplement during pregnancy has not been established.

Boswellia supplements can interact with various medications by:

  • Increasing the effects of diabetes medications, which can increase the risk of low blood sugar
  • Possibly increasing the effect of warfarin (Coumadin), a blood-thinning medication

If you are considering taking a Boswellia dietary supplement, then check with your health care professional first, especially if you are pregnant or have a health condition.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Nov. 29, 2016