Frankincense | Indian frankincense | Boswellia serrata | Herb

Indian Frankincense, Frankincense, Boswellia serrata, Herb, Herbal Remedy

Boswellia serrata Burseraceae Also called Frankincense

This deciduous tree from India has ash coloured bark that peels away in flakes. The oval leaves are long and grow opposite one another, while white flowers grow in clusters. The resins (gum) if Boswellia species have long been used for incense, most famously the frankincense mentioned in the Bible. However, B. serrata is also known for its medicinal properties.

Parts used

  • Gum
  • The gum is collected all year round and can be used fresh or dried to make powders and decoctions.
  • The essential oil is also extracted.


The gum contains several triterpenoid acids known as boswellic acids, which are thought to impart the therapeutic actions of Indian frankincense. Various sugars are also present in the gum. Ingredients of the essential oil, which is obtained from the gum, include pinene, phellandrene and sesquiterpene alcohols.

Medicinal uses

Indian frankincense is traditionally used as an anti-inflammatory agent and this action was verified in a British study in 2000. This, coupled with its antiseptic and expectorant properties, explains its use in treating infections of the respiratory system. It is also used to help skin problems and vaginal infections. It is believed to aid the digestive system and treat diarrhoea and intestinal infections. Indian frankincense also stimulates blood circulation and has been used in the treatment of piles. The aroma of the essential oil is reputed to have sedative effects and can relieve anxiety.

A German review published in 2002 documents the effectiveness of boswellic acids in treating arthritis, chronic colitis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, bronchial asthma and reactive swelling around a brain tumour, as shown by clinical trials.

In 2002 Swiss research suggested that extracts of Indian frankincense may have the potential to destroy certain types of cancer cells.


For internal use

TO TREAT inflammatory conditions
TABLETS (150mg) Take 1-2 tablets three times a day.

For external use

TO TREAT bronchial ailments INHALATION Place 1 teaspoon of tincture in a bowl of freshly boiled water, inhale the steam.



Plant in moist but well-drained soil. It requires full sun and temperatures of 15░C and above.


  • Pregnant women should not use Indian frankincense.
  • Some individuals may experience heartburn or hot hands and feet.
  • Indian frankincense is usually used for 8-12 weeks at a time.


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