Category Archives: Boswellia

What Do Three Wise Men Bearing Gifts Have In Common With Pain Relief? (The Answer: Frankincense/Boswellia.)

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Dear Pain Matters blog readers,

After a close friend credited Boswellia and targeted exercise for complete relief of his severe acute back pain, I was inspired to blog about this amazing pain-relieving extract.

Boswellia serrata extract is widely appreciated for its therapeutic effects on inflammation, arthritis and pain.

Also known as frankincense oil or olibanum, the Boswellia serrata extract is produced from gum resin (a.k.a. oleogum resin) obtained via incisions in the trunk of the Boswellia serrata tree that commonly grows in India.

Most people are familiar with the story of the three wise men bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh for the Baby Jesus on the eve of his birth in Bethlehem.

In addition to Christianity, frankincense is also highly regarded by other religions and cultures including by Jewish, Muslims, Indians, Egyptians and Greeks.

But did you know that the Boswellia serrata extract can also offer significant pain relief?  Specifically, the resin from the Boswellia serrata tree may be effective in treating chronic pain including osteoarthritis, soft tissue rheumatism, low back pain, gout, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.

Boswellia treatment can lead to enhanced movement and mobility as well as reduced inflammation.  Reduced leucocyte infiltration in the knee joint and decreased release of pro-inflammatory mediators occurs following daily Boswellia intake.

Boswellia serrata extract may be a viable alternative to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), with fewer severe side effects (Abdel-Tawab et al, 2011; Pawar et al, 2011).


(1) A Study Involving Boswellia-Treated Knee Osteoarthritis Patients

A study involving 70 knee osteoarthritis patients was done to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of a Boswellia serrata extract called 5-Loxin®.  Specifically,  5-Loxin® (100 mg or 250 mg) or a placebo was offered daily for 90 days.  Pain and physical function assessments were made on Days 0 (baseline), 7, 30, 60 and 90.

Pain levels and physical function were significantly improved in treated patients regardless whether 100 mg or 250 mg 5-Loxin® was offered.  It is noteworthy that patients who received the higher dosage enjoyed substantial pain relief and other benefits within only 7 days of treatment.

Boswellia serrata-treated patients also had decreased levels of the cartilage-degrading enzyme, matrix metalloproteinase-3.  Reduced pro-inflammatory mediators in the synovial fluid may lead to improved knee joint health including less cartilage damage in osteoarthritis patients (Sengupta et al, 2008).

(2) A Second Study Involving Boswellia-Treated Knee Osteoarthritis Patients

An Indian study involving 30 knee osteoarthritis patients was done to ascertain the efficacy, side effects and safety of Boswellia serrata extract.  Specifically, 15 patients were offered Boswellia serrata while the remaining 15 patients were given placebo treatment for 8 weeks.  The second half of the study involved switching the 30 patients to the opposite intervention for a further 8 weeks.

All Boswellia serrata-treated patients enjoyed decreased knee pain, reduced knee joint swelling, enhanced knee flexion and increased walking distance.

While minor gastrointestinal side effects may arise in some patients, Boswellia serrata extract may be an effective treatment option for knee osteoarthritis and other arthritic conditions (Kimmatkar et al, 2003).

(3) An Indian Study Involving Boswellia For Osteoarthritis  

An Indian trial led by Raychaudhuri and her colleagues evaluated the efficacy of the Boswellia serrata extract enriched with a form of boswellic acid in osteoarthritis patients.  The researchers concluded that Boswellia serrata can reduce pain and improve knee joint function in as little as 7 days (per Indian newspaper article).


Boswellia serrata extract may be effective in treating chronic pain, arthritis and osteoarthritis.  Its therapeutic effects are achieved via dampening of the inflammatory response.  

Boswellia serrata extract may be a viable alternative to NSAIDs, with fewer severe side effects.

What could be better than this??

Sabina Walker

Blogger, Pain Matters (in WordPress)

PS Please feel free to share your personal experience with Boswellia serrata extract via this blog.

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(1) Schultz, Colin. There’s More to Frankincense and Myrrh Than Meets the Eye. (24 Dec 2014).

(2) Blanco, Julia. Boswellia New Studies Show Effective Pain Relief. Life Extension Magazine (December 2014).


Clinical Cases and Studies 

(1) Sengupta et al. A double blind, randomized, placebo controlled study of the efficacy and safety of 5-Loxin for treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee. Arthritis Res Ther. (2008); 10: R85.

(2) Kimmatkar et al. Efficacy and tolerability of Boswellia serrata extract in treatment of osteoarthritis of knee–a randomized double blind placebo controlled trial. Phytomedicine (Jan 2003); 10(1): 3-7.

(3) Indian herb hope for arthritis relief. The Telegraph Calcutta. (4 Aug 2008); Page 7.
(4) Not discussed in this blog post:

(A) Kizhakkedath et al. Clinical Evaluation of an Herbal Formulation, Rhulief®, in the Management of Knee Osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage; 19 (Supplement 1): S145-S146.

Click to access 76ea39303de736eb353d9f31e85b43c3f183.pdf

(B) Kizhakkedath et al. Clinical evaluation of a formulation containing Curcuma longa and Boswellia serrata extracts in the management of knee osteoarthritis. Mol Med Rep. (Nov 2013); 8(5): 1542-8.

Underlying Mechanisms

(1) Pawar et al. Physico-chemical standardization and development of HPTLC method for the determination of β-boswellic acid from Boswellia serrata Roxb. (exudate). Int J App Pharm (2011); 3(1): 8–13.

(2) Hamidpour et al. Frankincense (乳香 Rǔ Xiāng; Boswellia Species): From the Selection of Traditional Applications to the Novel Phytotherapy for the Prevention and Treatment of Serious Diseases. Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine (2013); 3(4): 221-226.

(3) Ammon. Modulation of the immune system by Boswellia serrata extracts and boswellic acids. Phytomedicine (Sept 2010); 17(11): 862-867.

(4) Siddiqui. Boswellia Serrata, A Potential Antiinflammatory Agent: An Overview. Indian J Pharm Sci (May-June 2011); 73(3): 255–261.

(5) Abdel-Tawab et al. Boswellia serrata: an overall assessment of in vitro, preclinical, pharmacokinetic and clinical data. Clin Pharmacokinet. (June 2011); 50(6): 349-69.