Incense from the arabian peninsula. Used in asia in traditional medicine. Courtesy:
Boswellia acids stem from incense trees. In ancient arabian medicine books from the middle ages incence was described as "enforcing the brain and heeling insect bites". It was the famous Ibn Sina (known as "Avicenna" in medieval europe) who mentionend the use of incense in his 5 volume- "Canon of medicine". This book was until the late 17th century also in Europe the basis of medical knowledge in spite of the deep cultural gap between christian europe and the islamic world during that time period, showing its importance for the history of medical science. Now with the methods of modern science it seems to be approved what medieval arab medical doctors concluded by observations and empiric insights over generations.


The chemical structure of these Boswellia acids are pentacyclical triterpenoides and their derivates. In the naturopatic treatment these chemical substances are used for therapeutic means. So it is supposed that they are helpful in case of Morbus Crohn, rheumatism, asthma, Psoriasis, multiple sclerosis and other chronic inflammatory diseases. Even in cancer research the focus has been put on these substance of content of incense. Although recently  no strict scientific proof was made there are some evidence from medical studies in India  and Germany. By contrast an US-based study (Kiela et al, 2004) warns against the use of  incense. In lab mice with induced cholitis the authors did not find any improvement of the  illness. But too high doses could cause toxic impact to the liver due to the autors.
Other studies mention immuno modulatory (Pungle et al. 2003) and anti inflammatory effects (Darshan & Doreswamy 2004) when monitoring the influence of the use of traditional plant medicine in India. In dogs with osteoarthritis vetinary doctors found an improving impact when using incence  for therapeutic means . When using such phyto medicine for which no strict scientific study has been conducted it  is generally recommended to consult your local doctor before.


- Darshan S, Doreswamy R. (2004): Patented antiinflammatory plant drug development from traditional medicine. Phytother Res. 2004 May;18(5):343-57.

- Kiela PR, Midura AJ, Kuscuoglu N, Jolad SD, Solyom AM, Besselsen DG, Timmermann BN, Ghishan FK (2004): The Effects of Boswellia serrata in Mouse Models of Chemically Induced Colitis.; Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2004 Nov 11.

- Pungle P, Banavalikar M, Suthar A, Biyani M, Mengi S. (2003): Immunomodulatory activity of boswellic acids of Boswellia serrata Roxb. Indian J Exp Biol. 2003 Dec;41(12):1460-2

- Reichling J, Schmokel H, Fitzi J, Bucher S, Saller R. (2004): Dietary support with Boswellia resin in canine inflammatory joint and spinal disease. Schweiz Arch Tierheilkd. 2004 Feb;146(2):71-9. 2004 Feb;146(2):71-9.