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Clayton's Health Facts: Boswellia.

Clayton South, SPN (ISSA), is a recognized expert in the bodybuilding / fitness industry with over 150 bodybuilding, fitness and nutrition publications to his credit.

What is it and where does it come from?

Boswellia serrata (Sallai Guggal) is an ancient sap-producing tree that is grown throughout Western and Central China. It has a long history of use, and the sap of the tree is harvested and used to treat a number of common ailments.

What does it do and what scientific studies give evidence to support this?

Boswellia serrata has been used for thousands of years as a medicine by the Indian Aueyrvedic medical system to treat a variety of common medical ailments ranging from joint pain to stomach upset. Scientific studies on boswellia extract are few, but existing studies show that boswellia extract has positive effects on the body.

The active compound in boswellia sap is boswellic acid1, and it has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects.

Boswellic acid is thought to exert anti-inflammatory effects by preventing the breakdown of connective tissue, and by increasing the blood supply to joint tissues. In one study, boswellia performed better than prescription drugs at reducing the inflammation of osteo and rheumatory arthritis. It also sometimes performs better than aspirin, acetaminophen and other NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory aides) at reducing general arthritis pain.2

Boswellia is a rich source of gugglesterones and is a common ingredient in over the counter weight loss supplements. Gugglesterones stimulate the thyroid, leading to metabolic up-regulation, an increase in thyroid efficiency, increased caloric burn, and possibly weight loss.

Emerging research shows that boswellia extract is effective at treating colitis3 and may even help prevent liver cancer.4 Additional research is needed to confirm these findings.

Who needs it and what are some symptoms of deficiency?

Boswellia is not an essential nutrient and no daily requirement (RDA) exists. No symptoms of deficiency exist.

Everyone can benefit from boswellia supplementation.

How much should be taken? Are there any side effects?

Follow label directions.

Boswellia extract and boswellic acid are not known to interact with any medication.

Side effects may include diarrhea, nausea and minor skin rashing.

Consult a physician before using any nutritional supplements.


  1. Safayhi H, Sailer ER, Amnon HPT. 5-lipoxygenase inhibition by acetyl-11-keto-b-boswellic acid. Phytomed 1996;3:71-2
  2. Safayhi H, Mack T, Saieraj J, et al. Boswellic acids: Novel, specific, nonredox inhibitors of 5-lipoxygenase. J Pharmacol Exp Ther 1992;261:1143-6.
  3. Gupta I, Parihar A, Malhotra P, et al. Effects of Boswellia serrata gum resin in patients with ulcerative colitis. Eur J Med Res 1997;2:37-43.
  4. Liu JJ, Nilsson A, Oredsson S, Badmaev V, Duan RD. Keto- and acetyl-keto-boswellic acids inhibit proliferation and induce apoptosis in Hep G2 cells via a caspase-8 dependent pathway. Int J Mol Med. 2002 Oct;10(4):501-5.