Scientific name: Boswellia serrata

Common names: Shallaki, Indian olibanum tree, Gond, Luban, Olibanum

Ayurvedic names: Shallaki

Chinese names: Fan hun shu

Bangladesh names: Luban, Salai

Arabic names:     جذر البرداء (jidhru’lbardaa’e)

Rain Forest names:

Family: Burseraceae

Approximate number of species known:

Common parts used: Root, gum resin

Actions: Anti-carcinogenic, anti-hyperlipidemic, anti-arthritic, anti-tumour and anti-inflammatory


Annual/Perennial: Perennial

Height: 2 to 8 m

Known Constituents: Boswellic acid and other pentacyclic triterpene acids are present. Beta-boswellic acid is the major constituent

Constituents Explained:


Another species of Boswellia sacra is called frankincense.

Traditional Use:

Traditionally used in Indian medicine as an anti inflammatory.  This apparent anti inflmaoortoy effect is fast making it the remedy of choice for arthritis sympeoms.

It has also been used for bronchitis and fevers.

Clinical Studies:

Patients irradiated for brain tumors often suffer from cerebral edema and are usually treated with dexamethasone, which has various side effects. To investigate the activity of Boswellia serrata (BS) in radiotherapy-related edema, a prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, pilot trial was conducted.

Forty-four patients with primary or secondary malignant cerebral tumors were randomly assigned to radiotherapy plus either BS 4200 mg/day or placebo. The volume of cerebral edema in the T2-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) sequence was analyzed as a primary endpoint.

Secondary endpoints were toxicity, cognitive function, quality of life, and the need for antiedematous (dexamethasone) medication. Blood samples were taken to analyze the serum concentration of boswellic acids.

Compared with baseline and if measured immediately after the end of radiotherapy and BS/placebo treatment, a reduction of cerebral edema of >75% was found in 60% of patients receiving BS and in 26% of patients receiving placebo. 

There were no severe adverse events in either group. In the BS group, 6 patients reported minor gastrointestinal discomfort. BS did not have a significant impact on quality of life or cognitive function.

BS significantly reduced cerebral edema measured by MRI in the study population. BS could potentially be steroid-sparing for patients receiving brain irradiation.

Another study investigated the effect of Boswellia serrata extract (BSE) on symptoms, quality of life, and histology in patients with collagenous colitis. 

Patients with chronic diarrhea and histologically proven collagenous colitis were randomized to receive either oral BSE 400 mg three times daily for 6 weeks or placebo. Complete colonoscopy and histology were performed before and after treatment. 

Clinical symptoms and quality of life were assessed by standardized questionnaires and SF-36. The primary endpoint was the percentage of patients with clinical remission after 6 weeks. Patients of the placebo group with persistent diarrhea received open-label BSE therapy for a further 6 weeks.

After 6 weeks, the proportion of patients in clinical remission was higher in the BSE group than in the placebo group. Compared to placebo, BSE treatment had no effect on histology and quality of life. 

The study suggests that BSE might be clinically effective in patients with collagenous colitis.


Kirste S, Treier M, Wehrle SJ, Becker G, Abdel-Tawab M, Gerbeth K, Hug MJ, Lubrich B, Grosu AL, Momm F. “Boswellia Serrata Acts On Cerebral Edema In Patients Irradiated For Brain Tumors: A Prospective, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Double Blind Pilot Trial.” 2011 August.

Madisch A, Miehlke S, Eichele O, Mrwa J, Bethke B, Kuhlisch E, Bastlein E, Wilhelms G, Morgner A, Wigginghaus B, Stolte M. “Boswellia Serrata Extract For The Treatment Of Collagenous Colitis: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Multicenter Trial.” 2007 December