Boswellia serrata gum-resin, also known as Indian frankincense, is a wonderfully fragrant resinous tree sap obtained from the Boswellia serrata tree (Indian frankincense tree). This sticky resin is used to make Boswellia extract, which people mostly take to support their digestion and joint health.

But Boswellia has more health benefits than that, and it is not only used internally.

Boswellia serrata resin has a long history of use in both African and Asian folk medicine and has been part of the traditional Indian medical system, Ayurveda, for thousands of years.

Boswellia resin, which contains several powerful chemical compounds (boswellic acids), is also intriguing to  scientists, and what they have discovered is amazing.

Some research suggests that extracts made of Boswellia resin can be as effective as some synthetic drugs in relieving some – even serious – medical conditions, but without negative side effects.

Boswellia has a lot to offer, so in this article, you will learn about the wonderful and beautiful history, chemical composition, different uses, health benefits and clinical studies of Boswellia. We will also briefly touch on another amazing plant – curcumin. You will learn the important factors to bear in mind when picking Boswellia products, the reasons for selecting supplements made from Boswellia extract, and the significance of assessing the boswellic acid levels in these products. Stay tuned and enjoy reading!


History and early uses of Boswellia

Boswellia is a resin that comes from various species of Boswellia trees (also known as “frankincense” or “olibanum”). Many ancient texts mention this resin, and it was once a highly valued commodity for trade along with gold and ivory. Boswellia resin has many medicinal benefits, as well as other uses that you will discover in this story.

One interesting fact is that frankincense, the resin of the sacred Boswellia tree (Boswellia sacra or Boswellia carteri), was one of the three gifts that the wise men brought to the baby Jesus, according to Matthew 2:11 (16, 17).

People have traded Boswellia resin for more than 5,000 years across the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa. There is also evidence of commerce involving Boswellia from the ancient Egyptian kingdom of Punt. A mural on the walls of Queen Hatshepsut’s temple, dating back to 1458 BC, depicts the trade of resin sacks.

The lost city of Ubar, which was rediscovered in the early 1990s, is believed to have been the center of the Boswellia trade. According to legend, it was located on the “Boswellia Road” at the edge of the desert. This ancient road was used for transporting and trading perfumes in the Middle East – present-day Oman.

Boswellia resin was also used in ancient Europe, where the Greek historian Herodotus described the dangers of collecting the resin because of the poisonous snakes near the Boswellia trees.

The use of Boswellia has remained largely the same over the centuries and across different continents. Many civilizations (including ours) appreciate the resin’s soothing aroma and use it for aromatherapy (16, 17).

Boswellia resin, or frankincense oil, has played a major role in many of the world’s religions since ancient times. For example, Abrahamic religions use it to anoint newborns. Because of its pleasant smell and unique history, frankincense is a common incense and is still used in many Christian churches.

Besides its wonderful fragrance and historical significance, Boswellia is also valued worldwide for its health benefits.

In the following sections, we will explore the many benefits of this versatile substance and uncover the origins and history of Boswellia, as well as its health benefits (16, 17).

Highlights of Boswellia throughout history

  1. Boswellia resin, also known as frankincense, has been used as a medicine since ancient times. The Ebers Papyrus, dating back to around 1500 BC, is the first document to mention its use. An early Egyptian myth describes the resin as “the tears of Horus (son of Osiris and Isis)”. Later Greek and Roman texts describe the trade of this valuable resin, which was exported to Rome, China, and North Africa (16).
  2. Celsus (2nd century BC) recommended Boswellia resin for treating wounds, bleeding, and poison ivy rashes (16).
  3. When mixed with leek juice, Boswellia was said to stop internal bleeding and superficial bruising (16).
  4. In ancient Judea, the use of resin as an incense was the central part of important  ceremonies in the temple (16).
  5. The Babylonian Talmud (3rd-6th century AD) records that Boswellia resin in wine was given to prisoners sentenced to death to “numb the senses” or “prevent regret”. Based on this text, some researchers speculated that the drink offered to Jesus before the crucifixion also contained Boswellia resin (16).
  6. An 11th-century work mentions the use of Boswellia resin for inflammation and infection of the urinary tract, and suggests that “it is useful for severe mental illness or mental impairment and amnesia” (16).
  7. The use of Boswellia resin for its supposed psychoactive, anti-inflammatory, and wound-healing properties extends beyond the Middle East. For example, in the Christian world, Boswellia resin, or frankincense, began to be used in worship in the 4th or 5th century (16).
  8. In Ethiopia, where Boswellia trees grow naturally, burning incense is believed to have a calming effect. 
  9. In Kenya, it is used to bind wounds and, mixed with sesame oil, it is consumed to reduce urinary blood loss due to schistosomiasis (caused mainly by the freshwater worm Schistosoma haematobium) (16).
  10. Boswellia resin is extensively used in India to treat various inflammatory ailments, including Crohn’s disease, arthritis, and asthma. Therefore, to date, there has also been a significant amount of research on the anti-inflammatory properties of Boswellia (16).
  11. In the Indian-rooted system of medicine, Ayurveda, Boswellia resin is reported to have “strong effects on the nervous system”. 
  12. In China, it was an ingredient in several skin medicines, including preparations for treating bruises and infected wounds (16).
  13. It has long been used as a key ingredient in traditional medicine in Africa and Asia as a digestive and skin health agent. Boswellia resin is edible and is often chewed by patients seeking to improve their digestion (17).
  14. Boswellia resin is known as “dhoop” in Ayurvedic medicine. It has been used for arthritis, to heal wounds, and to strengthen the female hormone system. In Indian communities, incense is often burned precisely for the purpose of purifying the air (17).
  15. During the mummification process, the Egyptians cleaned body cavities with frankincense resin and caustic soda. In Persian medicine, it is used for diabetes, gastritis, and peptic ulcer (35).
  16. In Abrahamic religions, frankincense oil is also used to cleanse a house or building of bad or evil energy—including using it to exorcize spirits and bless a person (as common in Persian Gulf cultures by diffusing the vapors toward the body) (35).
  17. Boswellia also had an important place in the sacrificial laws of the ancient Hebrews. In Exodus (30:34-38), it is prescribed that Boswellia resin, mixed with equal amounts of three aromatic spices, was to be ground and burned on the holy altar before the mercy seat in the tabernacle in the wilderness as a holy offering, not just a good smell (35).
  18. Researchers have identified that it was Boswellia resin or frankincense that was brought to Sebas during the Babylonian exile in the 6th century BC according to the book of Jeremiah (6:20) (35).
  19. As we mentioned once before, frankincense is mentioned in the New Testament as one of the three gifts (along with gold and myrrh) that magi from the “East” gave to the Christ child (Mt 2:11) (35).
  20. In traditional Chinese medicine, both Boswellia resin and myrrh are considered substances with antibacterial and blood-moving properties that can be used topically or orally (35).
  21. It is also used in traditional Chinese medicine surgery, to relieve pain, eliminate blood stasis, promote circulation, and treat deafness, stroke, locked jaw, and menstrual disorders in women (35).
  22. Likewise, frankincense oil was a widely valued pain reliever for scorpion stings (17).

Ecosh’s pure Boswellia serrata resin extract dietary supplement also contains liposomal curcumin for synergistic purposes.

Modern uses of Boswellia or frankincense

Modern uses of Boswellia or frankincense

Boswellia resin extract is not only a popular dietary supplement, but it also has several non-pharmaceutical applications. For example, frankincense is still widely used today as an incense in Catholic and Christian churches and in other religious and secular traditions. Boswellia is also an important ingredient in perfumes and toiletries (17). 

But Boswellia also has other uses that we will share with you below.

Frankincense oil – how to use frankincense oil for aromatherapy and skin care

Besides the health benefits of the resin, Boswellia has many other uses that are valued around the world. Just a few drops of frankincense oil in a bath can help fight anxiety and relieve stress, creating a sense of peace, relaxation, and contentment. That’s why frankincense oil is widely used in aromatherapy and skin care for its soothing and healing properties (17).

It is also important to mention that essential oil should never be swallowed and should always be diluted with a carrier oil such as almond oil before applying to the skin (39).

There are several ways to use frankincense oil, including:

  • For aromatherapy: This means inhaling the aroma of the oil, using either an aroma lamp or a diffuser.
  • For skin care: Add a drop or two of frankincense oil to your favorite body cream or lotion.
  • For bath: A few drops of frankincense oil in the bath creates a nice aromatic atmosphere and some of the oil will also be absorbed by the body. To make a frankincense oil bath, first mix the oil with some whole milk so that it does not separate and float on the surface of the bath water.
  • For relaxation: Use the oil mixed with a carrier oil during meditation or yoga on meditation points, or apply a few drops of the oil to a hot compress (39).

Frankincense oil, incense, and candles – home cleaning

This oil is antiseptic and can help kill bacteria and viruses. That’s why people often use a few drops of frankincense oil to clean their homes. As a natural fragrance oil, frankincense can give your home a wonderful clean and fresh smell, whether you use it for cleaning or in an aroma lamp (17).

Since frankincense oil is also widely used in the incense industry, you can also burn incense or some Boswellia candles to scent your home. We write about the different aroma nuances of several Boswellia species at the end of this story under the subtitle “Boswellia species and their different aroma notes”.

Frankincense oil – oral care

There are also some modern toothpastes and oral care products that contain frankincense oil. This is because this substance is known to help prevent tooth decay, bad breath, and cavities. Also, Boswellia’s pleasant aroma is a nice alternative to regular mint-flavored toothpaste (17).

Frankincense oil – opening the airways

Another lesser-known use of Boswellia is to help you breathe better. It is considered an effective remedy for respiratory infections caused by colds or flu.

Boswellia does this by clearing mucus from the lungs and acting as an anti-inflammatory agent in the nasal passages. So, if you are currently suffering from a cold or flu, placing frankincense oil in an aroma lamp or diffuser in your bedroom will help fight the infection (17).

Boswellia extract – dietary supplements

Mainly, however, you get the wonderful benefits of Boswellia by taking an extract made from Boswellia resin. We will write more about the health effects of Boswellia under the subheading “Health benefits of Boswellia serrata (frankincense)”.

You can read about Ecosh’s Boswellia supplement and why it also contains liposomal curcumin under the subheading “Ecosh BOSWELLIA + LIPOSOMAL CURCUMIN – natural pain relief”.


About Boswellia serrata, or Indian frankincense in general

Boswellia serrata, or Indian frankincense, is a resin that comes from several species of boswellia trees. Another common name for this resin is frankincense, which comes from the Old French word “franc encens”, meaning “high-quality fragrant oil”. This resin has long been valued for its beautiful spicy, slightly lemony smell and therapeutic benefits.

There are many different species of Indian frankincense, including Boswellia serrata in India, Boswellia carterii in East Africa and China, Boswellia frereana in Somalia, and Boswellia sacra in Arabia. Each species produces a slightly different type of resin.

Boswellia sacra is common in northern Somalia, Ethiopia, southern Yemen, and Oman. Boswellia serrata, or Indian frankincense, typically grows in dry forests from Punjab to West Bengal and peninsular India. The resin of the Indian frankincense tree is used in Ayurveda, Siddha, and Unani systems of traditional medicine.

You can read more about the aromas of different boswellia species at the end of this story under the subtitle “Boswellia species and their different aroma notes”.

The family of Boswellia trees

Boswellia is a family of trees in the Sapindales order, known for its fragrant resin, or frankincense. Boswellia species are medium-sized flowering plants, including both trees and shrubs. They are indigenous to the tropical areas of Africa and Asia. The highest species diversity is currently found in Africa and India (19). 

The trees grow on limestone soil at high altitudes, on slopes and ridges. They look branchy, like bonsai growing in the desert. The Boswellia tree has tiny, yellowish-white flowers in clusters (20, 22).

The four main Boswellia species, B. sacra (also called  B. carterii and B. bhaw-dajiana), B. frereana, B. papyrifera, and B. serrata, produce true Boswellia resin. The resin of each species is available in different quality grades. The quality depends on the time of harvesting and whether the resins are sorted by hand.

The genus Boswellia is named in honor of the respected Scottish botanist John Boswell (1710-1780), who was also the uncle of the writer James Boswell.

Ecological status of Boswellia trees

In 1998, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) warned that one of the main Boswellia species, Boswellia sacra, was “near threatened”.

They also warned that all other Boswellia species were threatened by habitat loss and over-exploitation. Many Boswellia species thrive in challenging, dry areas that are often affected by poverty and conflict. The collection and sale of tree resin is therefore one of the only sources of income for the people living in those regions, resulting in over-harvesting (19).

Collecting Boswellia resin

As we mentioned earlier, Boswellia resin mostly comes from four different Boswellia trees:

  • Boswellia sacra (also called Boswellia bhaw-dajiana and Boswellia carterii).
  • Boswellia frereana.
  • Boswellia serrata (B. thurifera, Indian frankincense).
  • Boswellia papyrifera.

Boswellia trees start producing resin at about 8 to 10 years of age, and the resin is harvested several times a year. To do this, the pickers make incisions in the tree trunks during the dry season (the bark is removed in small 7 to 15 cm sections) and let the milky tree sap flow out.

The sap of the tree t later hardens into translucent drops or resin when exposed to the sun and air and acquires a yellowish, reddish, or brownish color in the case of Boswellia serrata.

Then, after about 2 weeks, when the resin has set, it is collected and sorted by hand according to quality. The last harvest of the year usually produces the best results and also the highest quality Boswellia resin (20, 40).

Chemical composition of Boswellia resin

Chemical composition of Boswellia resin

Boswellia resin consists of three main components: essential oil (5-9%), alcohol-soluble resin (65-85%), and water-soluble resin (21-22%). Depending on the type of frankincense tree, the amount and properties of these parts may vary slightly (25).

  • Essential oil (5-9%). The essential oil is what gives Boswellia resin its characteristic smell. It contains many different chemical compounds called terpenoids. Terpenoids are natural substances that can affect the human body in different ways. For example, some terpenoids are anti-inflammatory, meaning they help reduce swelling and pain, and some of these terpenoids are specific to certain species of frankincense. Therefore, the content of terpenoids is used to distinguish the oils of different species (25).
  • Alcohol-soluble resin (65-85%). The alcohol-soluble resin portion is what gives Boswellia resin its sticky, hard texture. It also contains terpenoids, but different from those in essential oil. The resin’s terpenoids are even more potent anti-inflammatory agents than the essential oils. The mechanism of their action involves the inhibition of enzymes that trigger inflammation. Among resin terpenoids, the most important are boswellic acids, which have various forms and names. Depending on the type of frankincense, the amount and ratio of boswellic acids can vary. There are also differences in protein content. For example, the main difference between the resin composition of B. carterii and B. serrata is the higher protein content, with B. serrata having (22%) and B. carterii resin (6%). The research findings have indicated a notable difference in the proportion of AKβ-BA (4-acetyl-11-keto-β-boswellyl acid) and Kβ-BA (11-keto-β-boswellyl acid) compounds between B. serrata and B. carterii. AKβ-BA was identified as the primary compound in B. carterii resins, whereas B. serrata resins contained twice the amount of Kβ-BA. The ratio of these compounds was approximately 0.7 and 4.7 in B. serrata and B. carterii, respectively. Furthermore, the study revealed that the total pentacyclic triterpene acid content was around 25% lower in B. serrata compared to B. carterii. Interestingly, the resin of B. serrata was found to contain various terpenes, including monoterpenes, diterpenes, triterpenes, tetracyclic triterpenic acids, and four major pentacyclic triterpenic acids – β-boswellic acid, acetyl-β-boswellic acid, 11-keto-β-boswellic acid, and acetyl-11-keto-β-boswellic acid, known for their anti-inflammatory, enzyme-inhibiting properties (25).
  • Water-soluble resin (21-22%). The water-soluble resin part is what gives Boswellia resin its gel-like texture. It mainly contains sugars and proteins called proteoglycans and glycoproteins. There have been four specific types of proteoglycans and glycoproteins identified in frankincense products. These substances are involved in the structure and function of cells and tissues. Proteoglycans and glycoproteins can vary depending on the frankincense species in both their sugar and protein moieties (25).

B. carterii and B. serrata have also been reported to contain volatile oils, terpenoids and aliphatic octayl acetate, which are responsible for its strong odor when burned.

However, they contain several other active compounds, or boswellic acids, of which acetyl-11-keto-β-boswellic acid, or AKBA (also AKβ-BA) is known to be the strongest inhibitor of 5-lipoxygenase (which is the enzyme responsible for inflammation) (25).

Chemical composition of Boswellia resin

Active substances in Boswellia resin

Boswellia resin produces essential oil, also known as frankincense oil. According to physico-chemical studies, the oil obtained from Boswellia resin contains:

  1. Monoterpenes (13.1%), diterpenes (42.5%), and sesquiterpenes (1%). Terpenes such as 11-keto-ß-acetyl-beta-boswellic acid, acetyl-11-keto-ß-boswellic acid, and acetyl-α-boswellic acid are those terpenes that demonstrate the highest biological activity.
  2. Ethyl acetate (21.4%)
  3. Octyl acetate (13.4%)
  4. Methylanisole (7.6%)
  5. Naphthalene decahydro-1,1,4a-trimethyl-6-methylene-5-(3-methyl-2-pentenyl) (5.7%), thunbergol (4.1%)
  6. Phenanthrene-7-ethenyl-1,2,3,4,4a,5,6,7,8,9,10,10a-dodecahydro-1,1,4a,7-tetramethyl (4.1%)
  7. Alpha-pinene (3.1%)
  8. Sclarene (2.9%)
  9. 9-cis-retinal (2.8%)
  10. Octyl formate (1.4%)
  11. Verticiola (1.2%)
  12. Decyl acetate (1.2%)
  13. N-octanol (1.1%) (25)

Extracts of Boswellia serrata and Boswellia carterii have been reported to be particularly beneficial in terms of therapeutic properties. However, as mentioned before, the protein content in Boswellia serrata resin is higher (22%) than in B. carterii resin (6%) (25).

Boswellic acids

The active ingredients of Boswellia serrata, i.e. those substances that have a beneficial effect on health, are boswellic acids.

While over 12 various boswellic acids have been discovered in the resin, only 11-keto-β-boswellic acid (KBA) and acetyl-11-keto-β-boswellic acid (AKBA) have been extensively examined for their pharmacological properties (23, 24).

These are precisely the acids that probably contribute to the inflammation-modulating properties of this plant. Some studies show that boswellic acids can prevent the formation of leukotrienes in the body. Specifically, these acids inhibit 5-lipoxygenase (5-LO), an enzyme that produces leukotrienes. Leukotrienes are molecules that have been identified as causing inflammation and can also trigger asthma symptoms.

The results of modern studies have shown that the extract available from Boswellia resin may indeed have analgesic, sedative, and antibacterial effects, which may also have a beneficial effect on ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, bronchitis, and sinusitis. Inhalation and consumption of Boswellia may reduce the risk of asthma, according to studies. 

In addition, the anti-carcinogenic effect of boswellic acids has also been extensively studied (25). 

Acetyl-11-keto-β-boswellic acid (AKBA), which makes up about 2-3% of the entire Boswellia serrata extract, is probably the strongest of the boswellic acids and also the most important in terms of positive health effects. However, other studies suggest that other boswellic acids contribute to the plant’s inflammation-modulating properties. We will write about the research on the different effects of Boswellia in more detail under the subheading “What the research says about Boswellia”.

It is important to note here that Boswellia can reduce the effect of other anti-inflammatory drugs. Therefore, if you are taking anti-inflammatory medications, talk to your doctor before using Boswellia products.

Boswellia products are generally rated for their concentration of boswellic acids. Ecosh’s Boswellia serrata and liposomal curcumin supplement contains at least 65% boswellic acids.


What the research says about Boswellia

Boswellia is rich in compounds called boswellic acids, which are thought to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. 

Therefore, Boswellia may help with various chronic inflammatory conditions, such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and inflammatory bowel disease. Boswellia may also have antibacterial and antifungal properties. In this section, we will review some of the scientific evidence for the benefits of Boswellia.

1. Antibacterial activity

Boswellia carterii and Boswellia serrata are two species of Boswellia that have shown high antibacterial activity in studies.

  1. Bacillus. For example, Boswellia carterii oil was found to have antibacterial activity against Bacillus, a type of bacteria that can cause infections and food poisoning. The main active ingredients were verticilla-4(20),7,11-triene (C20H32) and inkensol, two types of terpenes. Terpenes are organic compounds that give plants their aroma and flavor. Acetylketoboswellic acid (AKBA), α- and β-boswellic acid (BA), and 3-oxotyric acid, three types of boswellic acids, also showed antibacterial activity from Boswellia carterii. However, Boswellia serrata had even stronger concentration of these compounds.
  2. P. vulgaris and P. aeruginosa. The aqueous extract of B. serrata showed excellent antibacterial activity against P. vulgaris and P. aeruginosa, two types of bacteria that can cause skin infections and respiratory infections, respectively. The minimum inhibitory concentration, or the lowest amount of extract needed to stop the growth of bacteria, was 12.5 µg/µl. The Boswellia serrata petroleum ether extract exhibited remarkable antibacterial efficacy against P. aeruginosa, demonstrating an equivalent minimum inhibitory concentration value. In addition, the ether extract and acetone extract of B. serrata and the methanolic extract of Boswellia serrata against P. vulgaris also showed a high inhibitory effect against P. aeruginosa, a gram-negative bacterium that is resistant to many antibiotics.
  3. Staphylococcus aureus. AKβ-BA isolated from B. carterii was an active compound with a minimum inhibitory concentration value of 2-8 μg/ml against all tested gram-positive bacterial pathogens, or bacteria that can cause diseases. It also had a concentration-dependent bactericidal effect (the ability to kill bacteria) against Staphylococcus aureus, a common cause of skin infections, pneumonia, and sepsis.
  4. E. coli and K. pneumoniae. The acetone extract of Boswellia serrata showed excellent antibacterial activity against E. coli and K. pneumoniae, two types of bacteria that can cause urinary tract infections, diarrhea, and pneumonia. The minimum inhibitory concentration value was 12.5 µg/µl. The methanolic extract of Boswellia serrata showed good antibacterial activity against E. coli, P. aeruginosa, and P. vulgaris, with a minimum inhibitory concentration value of 25 µg/µl.
  5. S. aureus, E. coli, Proteus mirabilis, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Boswellia serrata bark essential oil was tested against gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria and showed significant inhibitory activity against S. aureus, E. coli, and Proteus mirabilis, a type of bacteria that can cause urinary tract infections and wound infections. The antimicrobial efficacy of B. carterii against E. coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa was also investigated. Inhibitory activity was found against all pathogens, with the highest sensitivity observed against P. aeruginosa at concentrations of 6.6 μg/ml.
  6. Salmonella typhi. B. serrata oleoresin was extracted with methanol and its antimicrobial activity was evaluated using two gram-positive organisms (Bacillus subtilis and Staphylococcus aureus) and two gram-negative organisms (Salmonella typhi and Escherichia coli). Salmonella typhi is a type of bacteria that can cause typhoid fever, a serious infection that can affect the whole body. The extract showed significant antimicrobial activity against all four organisms.
  7. Streptococcus pyogenes. The alcoholic extract of B. carterii was evaluated by testing the extract against the growth of four types of bacteria. Two of them were the gram-positive bacteria Staphylococcus aureus (24 isolates) and Streptococcus pyogenes (18 isolates) and the other gram-negative bacteria E. coli (35 isolates) and Salmonella spp. (20 isolates). Streptococcus pyogenes is a type of bacteria that can cause strep throat, scarlet fever, and rheumatic fever. Five extract concentrations (25, 50, 75, 100, and 200 mg/ml) were used. The extract showed antibacterial activity against all types of bacteria, and the antibacterial capacity of the extract increased with increasing concentration of the extract (25).

The antibacterial properties of Boswellia resin are thought to be due to the phenolic acid content of boswellic acid. Phenolic compounds are organic compounds that have antioxidant and antimicrobial effects. Phenolic acids in boswellic acid may improve protein and energy efficiency, reduce microbial competition for nutrients and endogenous nitrogen losses, reduce the occurrence of subclinical infections and the secretion of immune mediators, and reduce ammonia production (25).

As mentioned before, all the boswellic acid compounds in Boswellia have shown antibacterial activity, but AKBA has been shown to be the most active boswellic acid compound against gram-positive bacterial pathogens (25).

2. Antifungal properties

The antifungal activity of Boswellia resin has also been studied and it has been reported that the essential oils of B. carterii, B. papyrifera, B. serrata, and B. rivae resin oil have shown high activity against various fungal strains with minimum inhibitory concentration values as low as 6.2 μg/mL (25).

This means that to have an antifungal effect – you don’t need a lot of Boswellia.

Specifically, essential oils from four Boswellia species have shown significant antifungal activity against strains of fungi such as Candida albicans and Candida tropicalis. Candida is a type of fungus that can cause yeast infections, oral thrush, and systemic candidiasis. 

The authors of the study found that the limonene component* in Boswellia essential oils were responsible for the antifungal effect (25).

B. carterii essential oil also significantly inhibited the growth and aflatoxin production of a food-borne toxigenic strain of Aspergillus flavus at 1.75 ml/ml and 1.25 ml/ml, respectively (25).

Aflatoxins are toxins produced by some molds that can contaminate food and cause liver damage and cancer. The oil also exhibited a broad antifungal spectrum against 12 foodborne molds and also showed strong antioxidant activity with an IC50 value and percent inhibition of linoleic acid peroxidation of 0.64 ml/ml and 51.68%, respectively. Linoleic acid peroxidation is a process that generates free radicals that can damage cells and tissues (25).

* Limonene: Found in citrus fruit peels and various plants, limonene is a chemical commonly used in medicine. While it is often utilized for ailments like obesity, cancer, and bronchitis, the scientific evidence supporting these applications is lacking. Additionally, limonene is frequently added as a flavoring agent in foods, beverages, and chewing gums.

3. Inflammation-modulating properties

Boswellia resin can also help modulate inflammation in the body. Inflammation is the body’s natural response when we have an illness or injury. Inflammation can be beneficial if it helps us heal, but it can also be harmful if it is too strong or lasts too long.

Various substances are involved in inflammation, which give signals to our immune system about how to react. Some of these agents include TNFα, IL-1β, and IL-6. These are the substances that can cause even greater inflammation and call other substances to help. 

However, these other substances called to help can instead damage cells and tissues. Therefore, it is important to control the level and production of these substances in the body.

Boswellia resin contains several compounds that can affect these substances. Some of these compounds are the same boswellic acids that can inhibit one of the enzymes that turns arachidonic acid into leukotrienes. Arachidonic acid is a fatty acid that is involved in inflammation and pain. Leukotrienes are another inflammatory substance that can cause various problems in the body, such as asthma, allergic reactions, and cardiovascular diseases (25).

Likewise, Boswellia resin can inhibit other enzymes that turn arachidonic acid into prostaglandins and lipoxins, which are other inflammatory substances (25).

4. Protection of cells and DNA, i.e. antioxidant activity

The literature also mentions the antioxidant properties of Boswellia resin and shows that boswellic acids can prevent the negative effects of certain enzymes on DNA. Notably, pharmacokinetic testing of B. carterii, B. frereana, B. sacra, and B. serrata resins has shown that they are moderate to strong inhibitors of CYP enzymes, which are involved in the metabolism of many drugs.

CYP (cytochrome P450) is a large and diverse group of enzymes that promote the oxidation of organic substances.

In simple terms, Boswellia resin affects the enzymes in our body. Enzymes are substances that help our body function and change one type of substance into another. Some enzymes help us break down food or produce hormones, for example. However, some enzymes can also alter the medicines we take.

Researchers found that Boswellia resin can interfere with some enzymes that affect drug absorption. This means that if we take Boswellia resin along with other drugs, these drugs may not work as they should. This can be beneficial or harmful, depending on which drugs we use and how much.

Another thing that was studied was how Boswellia resin affects our body’s antioxidants. The primary function of antioxidants is to shield your cells from the detrimental impact of free radicals, ensuring their protection and well-being. Free radicals are particles that can damage DNA and proteins.

Researchers found that Boswellia resin contains many antioxidants that can capture free radicals and neutralize them. This means that, in addition to other benefits, Boswellia resin can prevent various health problems and premature aging that are associated with an excess of free radicals, or oxidative stress.

The researchers also tested Boswellia’s effect on heart function. To do this, they used a substance that artificially causes a heart attack, or blockage of blood vessels. The results of the study suggested that Boswellia resin may offer some protection to the heart. However, this protection is not very strong and may not always work (25).

5. Modulation of the immune system

The immune system is the body’s defense system that helps us fight against pathogens and foreign substances. The immune system is made up of different cells and molecules that communicate and send signals. Some of them are:

  • Macrophages, which are cells that eat bacteria. Specifically, macrophages are cells of the innate immune system that engulf bacteria and secrete both anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial substances. Furthermore, macrophages are essential in eliminating unhealthy and injured cells by triggering their programmed cell death.
  • Cytokines, which are signaling molecules. These are small proteins that are important in controlling the growth and activity of other immune system cells and blood cells. Once they are released, they instruct the immune system to perform its duties. Cytokines affect the growth of all blood cells and other cells that contribute to the body’s immune and inflammatory responses.
  • The complement system, which is a chain of proteins. Specifically, the complement system is one of the most important parts of innate immune defense. It is a collection of blood plasma proteins, the components of which interact with each other to attack extracellular pathogens (25).

Sometimes, however, the pathways of our immune system can get messed up for some reason and everything doesn’t work quite as it should. Fortunately, researchers have found that Boswellia resin can help our immune system in a variety of ways. For example:

  • It can help macrophages work better and destroy more pathogens.
  • It can change the levels and types of cytokines that affect our inflammation and immune response. Some cytokines can cause inflammation and others can reduce it.
  • It can also have a positive effect on the work of the complement system and thus prevent tissue damage.
  • Cancer cells are also connected to our immune system. These are our own cells that have started uncontrollably dividing and become invasive. Cancer is a manifestation of our immune system malfunctioning, as malignant cells are able to escape recognition and destruction by the immune system. Chronic infections and inflammation associated with a limited or polarized immune response also contribute to cancer development and tumor growth (26). In addition to causing tumors, cancer cells can also spread to other organs. However, studies have found that Boswellia resin can affect advanced tumor cells in different ways. Some of the mechanisms of action of boswellia that researchers have identified include:
    • Boswellia can stop the division of malignant tumor cells and force them to die. This is called apoptosis.
    • It can change the properties of cancer cells and make them less aggressive. This is called differentiation.
    • In addition, it can prevent cancer cells from signaling and surviving. This is called inhibition of signal transduction (12, 13, 14, 25).

6. Stimulation of the digestive tract

Research results have shown that Boswellia has a stimulating, gas-repelling and appetite-stimulating effect on the digestive system. It has also been found to increase the flow of digestive juices, leading to improved digestion and nutrient absorption (25).

It is possible that because boswellic acids stimulate the secretion of pancreatic enzymes, they may improve protein digestibility, reduce microbial competition for nutrients, suppress endogenous nitrogen losses, and reduce the occurrence of subclinical infections* (25).

This also includes a decrease in gastrointestinal pH, increased pancreatic secretion, and a trophic effect on the gastrointestinal mucosa.

Miller et al. stated that Boswellia species are one of the most important medicinal plants used to relieve fever, pain, and stomach problems. Boswellia stabilizes and soothes the intestines to help  protect the health of your intestines and the lining of the digestive tract (25).

* Subclinical infection refers to an infection caused by microorganisms that are capable of causing well-known diseases like polio or mumps, but without any noticeable symptoms.

7. Osteoarthritis and anti-arthritic activity 

Osteoarthritis, also called arthrosis, or joint wear and tear, is a degenerative joint disease in which the tissues in the joint break down over time. It is the most common type of arthritis and occurs more often in older people. People with this disorder typically complain of joint pain and short-term stiffness after rest or inactivity (1, 2).

Many studies on the effects of Boswellia on osteoarthritis have found it to be effective in treating the pain and inflammation characteristic of the condition (1, 2).

One study published in Phytomedicine in 2003 found that all 30 people with osteoarthritis knee pain who received Boswellia noticed a reduction in knee pain. They also reported an increase in knee flexibility and improvement in ability to walk longer distances.

The frequency of knee swelling also decreased. Boswellia extract is therefore recommended for use in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee, with possible therapeutic use in other arthritis (1, 2, 25).

More recent studies also support the use of Boswellia for osteoarthritis (3, 4). 

Another study (although this particular study was funded by the company that produces Boswellia) found that increasing the dose of enriched Boswellia extract also led to increased physical performance and decreased knee pain 90 days after consuming the Boswellia preparation as compared to a lower dose and a placebo. The Boswellia formulation also helped reduce cartilage-degrading enzyme levels (5).

8. Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease that affects approximately 2-3% of the population in the USA and 0.5-2% in Europe. Conventional medicine includes treatment with steroids, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and biological agents such as tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and interleukin-1 beta (IL-1β) antagonists, or inhibitors (25).

Studies on the benefits of Boswellia in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis have shown mixed results. An older study published in the Journal of Rheumatology found that Boswellia has an effect on the joint inflammation characteristic of rheumatoid arthritis (1).

Another study reported that an acetone extract of Boswellia carteri resin reduced arthritis markers, reduced paw edema, and significantly suppressed local tissue TNF-α and IL-1β levels in rats (25).

Similar studies have been conducted using Boswellia serrata extract, and in this regard, it was confirmed that B. serrata extracts at a dose of 200 mg/kg shift the cytokine balance towards a bone-protective model, acting to reduce both TNF-α, IL-1β and IFN-γ levels, as well as increase IL-10* levels (25).

Some studies suggest that Boswellia may interfere with the autoimmune process, which would make it an effective aid in rheumatoid arthritis. Further research supports Boswellia’s effective anti-inflammatory and immune-balancing properties (6, 7).

Boswellic acids are once again considered to be responsible for the modulating effects of such plant inflammation indicators. In addition to the inflammation-modulating effect, the extract of various Boswellia species has also shown significant anti-radical effects in studies. The two effects are probably related. The results are also consistent with previous studies showing that Boswellia suppresses TH1 cytokine production and promotes TH2 production.

Studies have shown that the triterpene acids in Boswellia are able to block inflammatory responses in both acute and chronic inflammation models (25).

Explained terms:

* TNF-α. Large amounts of TNF-α are secreted into the serum in response to a variety of inflammatory stimuli and infections, including HIV-1. Elevated TNF-α levels stimulate the production of substances that lead to tissue necrosis, such as collagenases, proteases, and reactive oxygen species (28).

*IL-1β. In addition to the beneficial role of IL-1β in clearing infections, this cytokine has also been implicated in the severity of inflammatory diseases. For example, elevated IL-1 signaling has been shown to cause neuronal cell death (29).

* IL-10. Interleukin 10 is an anti-inflammatory cytokine that plays an important role in the prevention of inflammatory and autoimmune pathologies. The increased levels of IL-10 can act as an obstacle to the host’s response against microbial pathogenesis, preventing the resolution of tissue damage and hemodynamic disturbances that are associated with it (30).

* TH1. TH1-type cytokines tend to produce a pro-inflammatory reaction, which is responsible for killing intracellular parasites and maintaining autoimmune reactions. Although many studies support TH1 cells and IFN-γ as inhibitors of Th2-type responses, other studies show that TH1 cells amplify inflammation and do not ameliorate disease (31, 34).

* TH2. In contrast, type 2 Th (Th2) cells produce IL-4, IL-5, IL-10, and IL-13, which are responsible for strong antibody production, eosinophil activation, and inhibition of several macrophage functions, thus providing phagocyte-independent protective responses. Th2-type cytokines produced by Th2 cells also directly or indirectly contribute to the repair of injured tissues by targeting a wide variety of immune and non-immune cells, including fibroblasts, epithelial cells, macrophages, and endothelial cells (32, 33).

9. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

Due to its inflammation-modulating properties, Boswellia has also been shown in studies to play a role in inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (1).

A 2001 study compared a special Boswellia extract (H15) and the prescription anti-inflammatory drug mesalamine (Apriso, Asacol HD). The results of the study concluded that treatment with H15 was not inferior to mesalamine.

This can be interpreted as evidence of the effectiveness of H15 in the treatment of active Crohn’s disease with Boswellia serrata extract, since the effectiveness of mesalamine in this indication is approved by the health authorities. Boswellia appears to have a more favorable risk-benefit profile compared to mesalamine when considering the safety and efficacy of Boswellia serrata extract H15 (8).

Several studies have found that Boswellia may also be effective in treating ulcerative colitis. We are only beginning to discover how Boswellia’s anti-inflammatory and immune-balancing effects may also improve the health of an inflamed gut (9).

For example, one clinical trial in patients with chronic colitis examined the effect of B. serrata resin (300 mg three times a day for six weeks) and compared it with sulfasalazine (1 g three times a day for six weeks).

Patients were then examined for stool characteristics and histopathology, as well as subjected to scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and determination of total hemoglobin, serum iron, calcium, phosphorus, protein, leukocytes, and eosinophils.

They found that 90% of patients treated with Boswellia resin improved in one or more parameters. In the control group, 60% of patients achieved similar results. However, 70% of patients treated with Boswellia resin achieved remission, compared to only 40% with sulfasalazine (25).

10. Asthma

As we mentioned earlier in this article, Boswellia may also play a role in reducing substances called leukotrienes, which cause bronchial muscles to contract. An illustration of this is a study conducted in 1998 which examined the impact of Boswellia on bronchial asthma. The findings revealed that individuals who consumed Boswellia experienced a decrease in asthma symptoms and markers (10).

Research is still ongoing and has continued to show that Boswellia’s positive immune-balancing properties can also help with the overreaction to environmental allergens found with asthma (11).

11. Depression and anxiety

More recently, a 2008 study found that burning Boswellia smoke, or frankincense, helped alleviate depression and anxiety in mice. Ongoing trials scientifically prove that it has the same effect on humans (17).

The extract and/or boswellic acids have been shown in studies to be effective for ulcerative colitis, chemically induced liver damage, bronchial asthma, and other health problems (1, 2, 17, 22, 25).

Since Indian frankincense is an effective inflammation-modulating substance, it can also be a very good pain reliever and prevent the loss of cartilage.

Ecosh BOSWELLIA + LIPOSOMAL CURCUMIN – natural pain relief

Ecosh’s Boswellia serrata and liposomal curcumin supplement is designed to support your overall health. Boswellia contributes to the well-being and mobility of your joints, and curcumin has significant cell-protective properties. In the same way, turmeric also has a positive effect on your immune system. 

In addition, Boswellia and curcumin help maintain the health of the upper respiratory tract and lungs. Here are answers to the most frequently asked questions about Boswellia and liposomal curcumin supplements.

1. Why does the Ecosh Boswellia supplement contain curcumin in addition to Boswellia?

The main question about the Ecosh Boswellia and Curcumin supplement is probably that if Boswellia is already so powerful on its own, why supplement with curcumin? The reason for this is very simple. Due to the inflammation-modulating, pain-relieving and joint-positive properties of both plants, they create a synergy where they work together to make the body produce the substances necessary to calm inflammation. Likewise, they are both suitable for long-term use.

2. Why is curcumin in the dietary supplement in liposomal form? 

In liposomal form, curcumin is simply better absorbed by the body. In addition, supplements in this form are also more gentle on the stomach. You can read more about the advantages of liposomal food supplements here.

3. Does Ecosh Boswellia supplement contain enough boswellic acids? 

Ecosh’s Boswellia and curcumin supplement contains a minimum of 65% boswellic acids. Extracting this amount of active ingredients from Boswellia resin is a very good result, as the content of boswellic acids usually ranges up to 40%.

4. Why is Boswellia in the form of extract and not oil in Ecosh’s dietary supplement? 

 The extract is also made from resin, but if you ask why extract and not oil, the answer is simple here as well. Put simply, Boswellia extract is safer than oil for internal consumption.

5. What exactly does Ecosh’s Boswellia and Curcumin supplement consist of? 

This dietary supplement contains:

  • Indian Frankincense (Boswellia Serrata) extract 6-10:1 (where boswellic acids are at least 65%)
  • Liposomal curcumin complex (Curcuma L. extract, where curcuminoids are at least 18%)
  • Humectants: glycerol
  • Emulsifier: sunflower lecithin phospholipids
  • Glazing agent: pullulan (vegetable capsule shell)
  • Anti-caking agents: magnesium salts of fatty acids

How to consume Ecosh’s Boswellia and curcumin supplement? 

Take 1 to 3 capsules daily with a meal containing fat.


This supplement is not recommended for use by pregnant women and nursing mothers. Boswellia can also affect blood clotting, so the supplement should be used with caution when taking medications that affect blood clotting (e.g., anticoagulants), with blood clotting disorders, and before or after a surgical procedure. Be sure to consult a doctor or pharmacist before using any medications.


Health benefits of Boswellia

Below we bring you the health benefits of Boswellia.

  • Digestive health. Boswellia supports digestive health as it protects the digestive tract, soothes the gut and can help maintain the lining of the digestive tract.
  • Joint health. Boswellia supports the flexibility of the joints and helps the joints feel comfortable.
  • Respiratory health. Boswellia serrata supports lung health.
  • Mental health. Boswellia supports mental function and helps keep the mind clear.
  • Cardiovascular health. Boswellia supports heart function and helps maintain blood cholesterol levels at a healthy level.
  • Reproductive health. Boswellia serrata supports healthy menstruation in women and sexual health in men.

Health benefits of Curcumin

Below you can read about the health effects of curcumin.

  • Skin health. Curcumin helps keep the skin healthy.
  • Immune system. Curcumin helps maintain the efficiency of the immune system and helps maintain resistance to allergies.
  • Cell protection and antioxidant properties. Curcumin has significant antioxidant properties and helps reduce oxidative stress.
  • Cardiovascular system. Curcumin supports blood circulation, blood production and quality. In addition, curcumin also supports heart function.
  • Respiratory system. Curcumin helps maintain lung and upper respiratory health.
  • Joints and bones. Curcumin helps maintain joint and bone health, protect joints and maintain joint flexibility.
  • Nervous system. Curcumin supports nervous system function and contributes to good nervous system balance.
  • Management of inflammatory responses. Curcumin helps to control inflammatory reactions within the body and reduce inflammation.
  • Digestive health. Curcumin is used to support and facilitate digestion for a number of reasons as it:
    • helps support normal liver function and maintain liver health;
    • helps stimulate the production of gastrointestinal fluids;
    • supports the function of the bile ducts;
    • contributes to the comfort of digestion;
    • helps facilitate the digestion of fat, prevents the accumulation of fats and facilitates its breakdown in the liver.

Boswellia side effects and drug interactions

  •  Boswellia has the ability to enhance blood circulation in the uterus and pelvis. Thus, it can increase menstrual flow and cause miscarriage in pregnant women.
  • Other possible side effects of Boswellia include nausea, acid reflux, diarrhea, and skin rash.
  • Boswellia extract may also interact with medications, including ibuprofen, aspirin, and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Therefore, be sure to consult your doctor before consuming a dietary supplement (1).


Boswellia products can vary widely. So be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when consuming them, and don’t forget to talk to your doctor before using any herbal remedy.

General dosage guidelines recommend taking 300-500 milligrams (mg) two to three times a day for oral consumption. In case of inflammatory bowel disease, the dose may be higher.

For example, the Arthritis Foundation recommends 300-400 mg three times a day of a product that contains 60% boswellic acids (15).

If you use Ecosh’s Boswellia + Liposomal curcumin food supplement, take 1-3 capsules a day with food containing fat.

Boswellia and its various forms

There are several ways to consume Boswellia, which include oral intake in the form of capsules, tablets, or tinctures, burning frankincense oil in an aroma lamp or as incense, or using it as a topical oil for external application.

Different forms of Boswellia

  • Boswellia resin or frankincense or olibanum. This is a pure and unprocessed resin that can be burned and used to make your own incense oil.
  • Boswellia essential oil or frankincense oil. Boswellia essential oil is produced from the resin of the tree by steam distillation.
  • Boswellia extract. This is also produced from tree resin, but with a slightly different method. The collected, cleaned and sorted resin is extracted, and different substances are used to help extract the active compounds from the resin. Various solvents such as acetone, ethanol or methanol are usually used to extract the compounds contained in the resin. Boswellia extract and extract powder are the forms of Boswellia resin that are most suitable for internal use.
  • Boswellia extract powder. This is where the process of filtering and drying the Boswellia extract takes place to obtain the desired powder form (41).


Boswellia species and their different aroma notes

Unknowingly, many of us have encountered different species of Boswellia when experiencing, for example, the soft aroma of incense for the first time, either in a church, mosque, temple, synagogue, on a trip or when visiting a friend. Below we describe the aromas of the resins of different frankincense trees (40).

1. Boswellia serrata or Indian Frankincense – India

Indian Frankincense grows in India and its scent is most familiar to those who have grown up in the Indian subcontinent and Asia. This is the type of Boswellia that is used in Hindu ceremonies and Ayurvedic medicine, and is the type we talked about the most in this article. Boswellia serrata has a distinct sweet and spicy aroma with notes of anise and mint (40).

2. Boswellia papyrifera – Ethiopia

Boswellia papyrifera grows in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia, Eritrea and Sudan. It is used in many churches around the world and is often called Church Frankincense. Frankincense papyrifera has a strong middle note, a soft but persistent fragrance and a distinct aroma with a hint of orange peel (40).

3. Boswellia carterii and Frankincense sacra

Although botanists agree that the two are the same species, the noses of people with highly sensitive senses of smell will tell you that they are completely different types of Boswellia resin. That’s why we mention them separately here (40).

4. Boswellia carterii – Somalia

In Somalia and Somaliland, the Boswellia carterii trees form the largest Boswellia “forest” globally. Frankincense carterii, the most widespread species of Boswellia resin, is predominantly sourced from this region and is the main source of income for many Somali families and communities. When we smell the scent that comes from the essential oil of frankincense, it is most often the essential oil of Boswellia carterii. Carterii has a deep soft amber note with notes of honey, vanilla and black pepper. It has milder citrus notes than Boswellia sacra and Boswellia dalzielii (40).

5. Boswellia sacra and Royal Hojari

Boswellia sacra is the best-known species of Boswellia in Arabian cultures. It grows throughout the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula from Aden to Oman. It has two varieties: the common Boswellia sacra resin and the Hojari type. Hojari Boswellia sacra resin comes from the Dhofar mountain region in southern Oman and is carefully sorted by the color, size, and shape of the resin droplets. It has a sweeter and stronger smell than regular Boswellia sacra resin, with distinct amber and citrus notes.

The name “Royal” is given to the larger, better-shaped resin drops. The main types of Hojari are Silver, Red, and Green Hojari, also known as “Royal Green Hojari” in English. Royal Green Hojari is commonly acknowledged as the finest Omani frankincense and is commonly employed for its medicinal benefits in Arabic customs, particularly in the preparation of traditional tea.

These four types of Boswellia resins have different aromas and are also the main Boswellia resins traded in the international market (40).

6. Black Boswellia sacra (Black sacra) and Black Boswellia carterii (Black carterii)

Both Boswellia sacra and carterii also have a black variety. The term is somewhat misleading because they are not really black, but a very dark honey color. Black Sacra and Black Carterii are forms of Boswellia that often appear as sticky clumps mixed with resinous tears and tree bark.

Resin distillers prefer them because of their high essential oil content. Their sticky form is usually due to the abundant rains and humid ocean breezes that result from the trees’ geographical location. Both have a sweeter, milder (honey-like) aroma with less citrus notes than their counterparts (40).

7. Boswellia dalzielii – Nigeria and West Africa

Boswellia dalzielii is a beautiful Boswellia resin that is not as common as the others. Visually, it looks like Frankincense Sacra Royal Hojari, with large, well-formed tears and often green tears. The main difference between Sacra/Hojar and Dalzielii is their scent.

Besides the citrus notes, Boswellia dalzielii’s fragrance has distinct mint and camphor notes. According to some claims, compared to all other species, Boswellia dalzielii has the most therapeutic boswellic acids and AKBA. However, there are currently few studies on this (40).

8. Boswellia frereana (Maydi) – Arabia

Boswellia frereana, often called Maydi, is the pride of Somali culture. Its chemical composition is very different from other Boswellia species. Namely, it does not contain boswellic acids, but it is said to be as potent a healing and anti-inflammatory resin as the others. It is the most favored species of Boswellia in the Coptic Church and is widely used in Arabia as a high-quality natural chewing gum, as well as for incense and cosmetics.

It often appears as gold-colored flat tears with a light white surface color. There is a theory that the unique golden-colored Boswellia frereana was the “gold” mentioned in the Old Testament story of the birth of Jesus (40).

9. Black Boswellia resins – Boswellia rivae, Boswellia neglecta, and Commiphora confusa

These Boswellia species look very different from all the others. They are black-colored exudates that often have a grainy texture and appear as clumps without a clear teardrop shape. 

Surprisingly, these three trees produce 2-3 different types/colors of resin. One of them is clear and is used by locals as chewing gum. All three trees provide income to local semi-nomadic tribes and clans and are often the source of the income of tribal women.

Moreover, these three trees give us resin without having to cut the tree (tapping, which is the common name of the resin harvesting procedure), and this makes them very sustainable. It is highly beneficial that we are able to take advantage of this opportunity, especially considering the decline in Boswellia species caused by the rising need for their essential oils. If we could use these tree species more often, this would reduce some of the pressure on over-harvested and stressed tree populations.

10. Boswellia rivae – Somali region of Ethiopia

Boswellia rivae, also known as Ogaden Balm, grows mainly in the Somali region of Ethiopia and has a wonderful sweet and spicy aroma. The tree produces 2-3 different types/colors of resin, but it is the black resin that is most often found in the trade (40).

11. Boswellia neglecta – Kenya and western Ethiopia

When freshly harvested, the resin derived from Boswellia neglecta is often soft and resembles tar, causing it to form large clumps in collection bags due to the desert heat. It boasts a less sweet scent compared to Frankincense rivae, featuring subtle undertones of spruce. Frankincense neglecta is predominantly found in Kenya and western Ethiopia (40).

12. Commiphora confusa or Kenyan Boswellia

As the species name suggests, it actually belongs to the myrrh family. However, its aroma profile and chemical composition are much closer to Boswellia than to myrrh. Therefore, it is also called Kenya Boswellia (English Kenya Frankincense). In the past, resin collectors confused C. Confusa with the resin of Frankincense neglecta.

But now C. Confusa has been identified as a unique aromatic resin on its own, and its essential oil can also be found on its own in the international market. As the name suggests, Kenyan Boswellia grows mainly in northern Kenya. The purchase of C. confusa resin and essential oil helps increase the income of women in semi-nomadic pastoralist tribes, who use the money from resin collection to buy food and medicine for their families. It often takes them a whole day to collect one kilogram of resin (40).

13. Boswellia occulta – Somalia and Somaliland

Only recently identified and named, Boswellia occulta, grows among Boswellia carterii trees in Somalia and Somaliland. It was/is mixed with Boswellia carterii resin to provide additional income for collectors. It has an odd aroma and bitterness compared to other Boswellia species, which can be attributed to boswellic acid. The chemical composition of Boswellia occulta differs from that of Boswellia carterii and it contains a large amount of a compound rarely found in nature – methoxydecane. As a separate resin, Boswellia occulta has only recently been introduced to the Western market (40).

14. Exotic species of Boswellia

There are several species of Boswellia resin that are rarely found on the market. Most of them come from the island of Socotra. They are Boswellia ameero, Boswellia socotrana, and Boswellia elongata. But let’s leave these rare and unusual species to experts and collectors for now (40).


Concerns about Boswellia essential oil that cannot be left out of this story

Most people don’t know that Boswellia essential oil contains only a very small fraction of the therapeutic compounds found in its resin. Most of the resin’s healing compounds are discarded as waste during essential oil production after the resin is distilled. From 1 kilogram of Boswellia resin, we get about 5% of its weight, or about 45 milliliters of Boswellia essential oil, and the rest is lost.

But humanity’s huge (and growing) demand for essential oils is putting a strain on the trees beyond their ability to regenerate and contributing to the decline and extinction of Boswellia species. However, Boswellia resin is much more useful to us than just for its essential oil.

All resin acids, including boswellic acids (the very active therapeutic compounds whose positive health effects have already been discussed a lot in this story) are simply thrown away when making essential oil. However, when making extract and extract powder, all the resin is used. Therefore it’s best to use Boswellia products that have all of the benefits of the resin.

But, if you still want to use Boswellia essential oil, please do so sparingly, with respect, and thank the tree for its contribution. Keeping these trees alive is the responsibility of all of us.

In summary

Most people don’t know that Boswellia essential oil or, in other words, Frankincense essential oil, contains only a very small fraction of the therapeutic compounds (boswellic acids) found in its resin. Most of the resin’s healing compounds are discarded as waste during essential oil production after the resin is distilled. From 1 kilogram of Boswellia resin, we get about 5% of its weight, or about 45 milliliters of Boswellia essential oil, and the rest of the health benefits are lost. However, when making extract and extract powder, all the resin is used. Therefore, it’s best to use Boswellia products that have all the benefits of the resin.

One of these products is Ecosh Boswellia + Liposomal Curcumin complex, which effectively supports the entire body. The active ingredients in this supplement provide support to the immune system; help maintain resistance in case of allergies; contribute to the work of the heart and blood circulation; support the functioning of the nervous system; support joint health; help with digestive ailments; help protect intestinal health, soothe and stabilize the intestines and the mucous membrane of the digestive tract and help maintain lung and upper respiratory health, making the complex one of the best means of supporting one’s health and general well-being.

In case of intolerance to any of the ingredients, do not use the products described in this story. The information provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as health care or medical diagnosis and treatment. This information should not be taken as a guarantee of results to be achieved.

The information provided is also not intended to be a substitute for the advice of your physician or other health care professionals. Do not use the information herein to diagnose or treat a health problem. You should consult a health care professional before changing or stopping treatment for any health problem, treatment, or medication, even if you suspect that you may have a health problem. Do not use supplements as a substitute for a varied diet. It is important to eat a varied and balanced diet, to lead a healthy lifestyle, and to listen to your gut!

Written by: Maria-Helena Loik



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  37. Boswellia Serrata – LiverTox – NCBI Bookshelf (
  38. Effectiveness of Boswellia and Boswellia extract for osteoarthritis patients: a systematic review and meta-analysis – PMC (
  39. Frankincense and cancer: Inflammation, research, and safety (
  40. A guide to the different types of Frankincense – Apothecary’s Garden (
  41. Hiina Boswellia Serrata ekstraktipulbri tarnijad, tootjad, tehas – hulgihind – BOTANICAL CUBE INC.

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Davidvat

    Aloha, makemake wau eʻike i kāu kumukūʻai.

    1. maria

      Aloha ʻoe, ʻaʻole kūʻai ʻia kā mākou Boswellia i kēia manawa, akā e hōʻike mākou iā ʻoe i ka wā e hiki mai ai i kā mākou E-shop.


    “Thank you for addressing such an important topic with clarity and authority. The information shared here is timely and relevant, and I appreciate the effort put into providing actionable advice. Looking forward to reading more from this blog!”

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