Boswellic acids in chronic inflammatory diseases

Planta Med. 2006 Oct;72(12):1100-16. doi: 10.1055/s-2006-947227.


Oleogum resins from BOSWELLIA species are used in traditional medicine in India and African countries for the treatment of a variety of diseases. Animal experiments showed anti-inflammatory activity of the extract. The mechanism of this action is due to some boswellic acids. It is different from that of NSAID and is related to components of the immune system. The most evident action is the inhibition of 5-lipoxygenase. However, other factors such as cytokines (interleukins and TNF-alpha) and the complement system are also candidates. Moreover, leukocyte elastase and oxygen radicals are targets. Clinical studies, so far with pilot character, suggest efficacy in some autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis and bronchial asthma. Side effects are not severe when compared to modern drugs used for the treatment of these diseases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy
  • Asthma / drug therapy
  • Boswellia / chemistry
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Immune System / drug effects
  • Inflammation / drug therapy*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / drug therapy
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Osteoarthritis / drug therapy
  • Phytotherapy
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use
  • Triterpenes / pharmacology*
  • Triterpenes / therapeutic use*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Plant Extracts
  • Triterpenes
  • boswellic acid