Boswellia Serrata


Despite the odd name, boswellia serrata is an ancient Ayurvedic herb used in India as an anti-inflammatory agent [1] and neuroprotective against certain brain ailments (notably cancer) [2]. Most people who take boswellia serrata extract do so for anti-inflammatory properties that reduce joint pain and increase subjective well being [3].

From the little evidence that exists, boswellia extract could be a potentially powerful anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory agent. Unfortunately, funding for boswellia has not been high. If you are a believer in the wisdom and intuition of ancient medicinal practices (in this case Ayurveda), it might be worthwhile to buy boswellia.

Also Known As

Indian Frankincense, Salai, Salai Guggul, Gajabhakshya

Editors’ Thoughts on Boswellia Serrata

Boswellia serrata hasn’t crossed my path as I’m not old enough to take full advantage of anti-inflammatory benefits for osteoporosis. For anyone who is middle-aged who has issues with joint pain or inflammation, this seems like a good first line of defense.

It’s a shame there isn’t more evidence, but from what does exist there are notable positive changes in human trials. I’m not a huge fan of the “natural” buzzword, but this is a more natural Ayurvedic solution than some of the prescription drugs recommended by doctors to treat the same ailments.

Mansal Denton, Nootropedia Editor

boswellia serrata

History of Boswellia Serrata

Traditional medicine, whether in India or China, has managed to alleviate many of the health conditions of our ancestors for thousands of years. Boswellia serrata is one specific Ayurvedic remedy that was processed to extract the gum resin extract for a number of treatments.

Most Ayurvedic tradition and literature shows boswellia as a tool for reducing inflammation topically and until the modern era was used by tribal people on a large scale. Beyond average users, evidence suggests there was a religious context for boswellia with royalty partaking regularly. Today the extract is patented and sold across the globe for treatments related to inflammation.

Boswellia Serrata Benefits

The benefits of boswellia are relatively well documented, but focus mostly on inflammation and osteoporosis. There is one molecule (a polysaccharide called BOS 2000), which is involved with the anti-inflammatory properties [4].

For the brain, boswellia can reduce neuroinflammation similarly as the rest of the body. One animal study found that boswellia could reduce brain damage by 22.3 – 69.6% depending on the dosage [5]. Another trial found boswellia could reduce inflammatory cytokines called TNF-alpha (a major inflammatory marker) by 88% [6].

Another boswellia benefit includes reduced rates of anxiety and depression. In one study, boswellia was found to be less effective than the standard depression medication, the supplement could help reduce overall symptoms of depression [7].

There is evidence that boswellia can provide cognitive benefits including better spatial memory formation [8] and others. Finally, there is a smaller body of evidence suggesting boswellia serrata can enhance the length of neurons in the brain by anywhere from 58 – 158% [9].

All of these brain benefits are under-studied compared to the joint-pain reducing effects. Most evidence (and money) focuses on understanding how to utilize boswellia extract for reducing joint pain in the elderly, of which there is notable research. Still, it is interesting to see how boswellia may also be a nootropic.

Boswellia Serrata Side Effects

As with any nootropic or supplement, there are risks of side effects. Boswellia is no different. From a toxicity perspective, taking too much is rarely a risk. The safety threshold for animal models is 2 – 3,000 times the effective dose in humans and appears to be relatively nontoxic [10]. Taking a dose higher than recommended may lead to gastro-intestinal distress, but that should help you to alter doses.

There are some instances where boswellia serrata cream causes allergic reactions [11]. Most people taking this extract will do so orally, but it is worth keeping in mind that allergies to topical boswellia are possible.

Boswellia Serrata Dosage

The boswellia dosage is going to depend highly upon the source of your supplement. There are many extracts patented in places like India. If you are using the boswellia serrata resin, take up to 800 – 1200 mg three times per day (total 2400 – 2600 mg).

If you are taking brand name products, such as 5-Loxin, Aflapin etc., then it will probably be best to take only 100 – 250 mg with a meal (due to higher concentrations of the bioactive ingredient).

With boswellia, a higher dose is not always a better dose. Start small and then work your way to a higher dose. Even though it might seem better or safe to use more, it may not actually do any good.

How and Where to Buy Boswellia

It is quite easy to find boswellia for sale both online and in a local store. We tend to prefer online for convenience, but also to ensure the best price and safety profile. Many vendors sell boswellia alongside other ingredients. It is best to avoid this when at all possible. Just because a company formulates their own blend does not mean all the ingredients are worthwhile.

One brand that we recommend is NOW Foods, which has a simple boswellia serrata product that is well-priced and reputable. There are plenty of other reputable brands, but if you are planning to purchase boswellia, make sure you do so from a recommended vendor.

Boswellia Reviews

There are many boswellia reviews online, but take them with a grain of salt. As with most supplements, there is a fair bit of exaggeration going on with most reviews (simply because someone benefits). In many cases, the reviews of boswellia are from manufacturers themselves.

Just because this is an Ayurvedic herb does not mean it is going to solve all of your problems. Take all boswellia serrata reviews with some skepticism even though they can be a good data point to triangulate with scientific literature.

Selected Community Experiences

“I’ve been taking boswellia (5-loxin) and curcumin (meriva) for arthritis the past week, they work well for inflammation but I’m also noticing much more energy and mental focus than either taken alone. No tiredness during the day, much more motivation, it feels like my dopamine is greatly increased. Boswellia alone gave me a nice mood boost alone, but combined with curcumin feels much more stimulating” – Chocobo_Eater [12]

“It works quite quickly. I’ll take 1 1/2 tsp of Lioms Mane w/ 1-2grams of Boswellia gum heated with water and put in freezer and then powdered. It seriously, works better than anything else I’ve ever used.” – birthdaysuit111 [13]

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Mansal Denton is the founder of Nootropedia on a quest to inform users on effectively utilizing nootropics and smart drugs. His work has been featured in Forbes, Inc, Entrepreneur, and Vice.