How To Take Boswellia Serrata

Boswellia serrata is an ancient herb used in traditional medicine for arthritis and other inflammatory diseases. Its ability to relieve inflammation-related pain and symptoms is well-documented in medical studies. Read on to learn how to take Boswellia serrata, the dosages for different medical conditions, and the necessary precautions to keep in mind.



Different types of Boswellia serrata supplement

When we talk about “how to take boswellia”, it all depends on which boswellia supplement you are taking.

There are 3 main types of Boswellia supplements:

  1. Supplements with dried Boswellia gum resin
  2. Boswellia extracts, standardized to a high percentage of boswellic acids
  3. Boswellia extracts that are high in AKBA,  the most important boswellic acid

The main difference between these supplements is how potent there are.

Supplements with dried Boswellia gum resin are the least potent as they contain little amounts of the active ingredients in Boswellia.

Next in potency are standardized Boswellia extracts. These extracts contain a certain percentage of boswellic acids, which are the active ingredients in Boswellia resin. Typically, the extracts have somewhere between 30% and 65% of Boswellic acids. The higher the percentage, the more potent is the supplement.

Finally, there are special, patented formulations that are high in AKBA – which is the most important and beneficial type of boswellic acid.

>>> Read more on how to choose the right Boswellia supplement

Avoid taking Boswellia serrata supplement during pregnancy because it can trigger bleeding, cause birth defects, and induce miscarriage. 

Boswellia serrata dosage

General dosage recommendations for Boswellia

There are no general guidelines for Boswellia dosage. The dosages that we represent below are taken from manufacturers’ suggested use and studies made on Boswellia and various medical conditions.

Dosage for supplement that contain Boswellia gum resin (so-called whole herb supplements)

Typical dosage is 800 mg, taken twice or three times per day.

Dosage for standardized Boswellia serrata extracts

Standardized supplements usually contain 60-65% standardized boswellic acids. For these, the recommended dosage ranges from 300-500mg taken thrice a day. They are typically used for alleviating inflammatory symptoms and pain. 

Dosage for AKBA-enriched solutions

These are patented technologies that are generally more powerful due to higher concentration of AKBA. They contain 10-30% of AKBA as opposed to 1-3% in normal standardized extracts.

Supplements with 20 to 30% AKBA can be taken in much lower dosage – 100mg to 300 mg taken once per day.  

For products with 10% AKBA, the suggested dosage is up to 500mg taken once or twice daily.

Boswellia serrata dosages for specific medical conditions

For osteoarthritis

For best results, go for special Boswellia serrata formulations with 20-30% AKBA. You’ll only need 100-300mg a day.

If you’re taking regular standardized extracts with 60-65% boswellic acids, raise the dosage to 300-400mg three times daily.

For rheumatoid arthritis

AKBA-concentrated formulations are believed to be more effective than normal standardized extracts at just 100-300mg per day dosage.

On the other hand, standardized Boswellia serrata has been successfully taken at a total of 1,200-3,600mg a day for improved joint swelling in rheumatoid arthritis (1) (2).

For bronchial asthma

German study has shown that taking 3 capsules of Boswellia resin daily (each with 300mg of gum resin) eased the symptoms of bronchial asthma (3).

For ulcerative colitis

Two studies (4), (5) examined the effects of Boswellia resin on ulcerative colitis. One used 350mg and the other 300mg of resin; taken three times daily in both studies.

The results have shown that Boswellia is more successful than the drug sulfasalazine in treating ulcerative colitis and triggers remission of the disease in larger percentage of patients.

For Crohn’s disease

400mg of standardized Boswellia serrata extracts taken thrice daily is clinically proven effective and well-tolerated in Crohn’s disease patients (6). 

For diabetes

One study shows that a total of 900mg Boswellia serrata gum resin taken daily for 6 weeks increased levels of blood HDL, lowered cholesterol, LDL, fructosamine, and other blood parameters in type 2 diabetes patients (7).

For cancer

Studies on cerebral edema and glioma have used a total daily intake of 3,600-4,200mg of standardized Boswellia serrata extracts.

Clinical trials on Boswellia treatment for cancer
  • Patients receiving irradiation of the brain for primary brain tumors or brain metastases of solid tumors were administered 4,200mg a day of Boswellia serrata extracts during radiotherapy. 60% of patients had more than 75% decrease in the edema by the end of the treatment (8) (9).
  • A study on glioma patients who took 3,600mg a day for 7 days prior to surgery ended up with greatly reduced perifocal edema plus improvement in clinical symptoms. Those who took 2,400mg per day had a lower degree of perifocal edema reduction (10) (11).
  • In a smaller trial with 12 patients with brain tumors and progressive cerebral edema, 3 of the 7 people with glioblastoma and tumor progression plus 3 of the 5 patients with radiochemotherapy-related leukoencephalopathy had reduced edema after taking 3,600mg daily for 12 weeks. All leukoencephalopathy patients also reported a clinical improvement (12).
  • A 39-year-old woman with symptomatic multiple brain metastases of a mammacarcinoma took 2,400mg per day of standardized Boswellia serrata for 10 weeks. At the same time, she began receiving brain radiation therapy and capecitabine chemotherapy. Her brain metastases were no longer visible in the CT scan by the treatment's conclusion (13).

When and how to take Boswellia serrata supplement                               

Most Boswellia extracts are packaged in capsule or softgel form. Take your supplement with a glass of water after having a high fat meal. Boswellia is fat-soluble so it will be better absorbed this way (14).

Boswellia serrata for colon conditions

If using Boswellia serrata for inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease), it is thought to be best to take the supplement before meals.

Recommended time of day to take Boswellia serrata supplement

AKBA-rich Boswellia serrata supplements like ApresFlex and 5-LOXIN can be taken during the first meal of the day.

For the less potent standardized extracts, take one capsule every 8 hours. This is how long the substance stays in the body after taken orally (15).

Boswellia side effects and safety

Boswellia serrata is regarded as generally safe and well-tolerated (16), (17), (18). On rare occasions, it may induce side effects such as:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Acid reflux
  • Skin rash
  • Allergic reactions—if you experience symptoms like chest pain, difficulty in breathing, swelling in different areas of the body, stop taking Boswellia serrata. Consult your doctor to make sure you don't have allergic reactions to the herb.

There has been one case of a woman who ended up with a bezoar, a solid mass of indigestible material that builds up in the digestive tract (19). However, it has been speculated that her celiac disease might have been the culprit behind this complication and not Boswellia serrata.

How can you minimize the side effects of Boswellia serrata?

There is no definite way to avoid side effects. However, it has been suggested that if Boswellia serrata causes you to suffer from heartburn, taking esomeprazole (Nexium) alongside it might help.

Boswellia serrata and long-term supplementation

Majority of studies on Boswellia lasted somewhere between 2-12 weeks. However, there have been a few studies that lasted 6, 9, and even 12 months.

Boswellia serrata's has been well tolerated with few side effects; mostly gastrointestinal distress. The dosages of Boswellia used in these studies ranged between 1,200mg and 3,600mg daily (20) (21).

People who shouldn’t take Boswellia supplements

Pregnant and breastfeeding women

Boswellia serrata can induce menstruation, birth-related problems and even miscarriage. If you are pregnant, lactating or planning to have a baby, stay away from Boswellia serrata.

Patients with liver failure

Those who are suffering from liver failure are at greater risk of the side effects because the damaged liver will not be able to process Boswellia serrata properly. This might result in higher levels of Boswellia in blood and increased side effects.

Patients with stomach ulcer or GERD

Steer clear of Boswellia serrata if you have stomach ulcer or GERD as it might worsen your symptoms.

Patients with degenerative lung disease

Boswellia serrata can potentially cause more harm to your lung tissues. Further investigation is needed to confirm this.

Children

Boswellia serrata's safety in children is not well-researched. It is best if you don't give this herb and its extracts to children.

Boswellia serrata: interactions with food, drugs or medications

Blood sugar medications

Boswellia serrata has been found to stabilize blood sugar levels. If you are taking medications for blood glucose regulation, don't take Boswellia serrata extracts as your blood sugar might fall to low.

Other pain relievers (ibuprofen, aspirin, or naproxen)

Refrain from taking Boswellia supplements with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) of similar purpose. The combination could cause damage to the liver.

Warfarin

Taking Boswellia serrata with warfarin, a medication that inhibits blood clotting, can trigger excessive bleeding (22).

Boswellia serrata may also increase the effects of:

  • Anti-cancer medications
  • Asthma medications like Singulair
  • Glucosamine or chondroitin (supplements for joint health)
  • Garlic and red yeast (allergic reaction)


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Studies: 
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  3. Gupta I., Gupta V., Parihar A., Gupta S., Lüdtke R., Safayhi H., Ammon H.P. Effects of Boswellia serrata gum resin in patients with bronchial asthma: results of a double-blind, placebo-controlled, 6-week clinical study. November 1998. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9810030
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