Haematotoxic effects of methanolic extract of Boswellia sacra oleo gum resin (frankinccense) in rats

Sci Prog. 2021 Apr-Jun;104(2):368504211015102. doi: 10.1177/00368504211015102.


In several parts of the world, Boswellia sacra Fluck. is one of the most commonly used herbs for the treatment of arthritis. Its usage should be validated in light of recent findings of haematotoxicity. This study was aimed to determine the effect of chronic administration of standardized methanolic extract of frankincense on blood cell count in experimental animals. Using high-performance liquid chromatography, the active constituents of B. sacra extract; boswellic acids were analyzed. The effect of three different doses of the extract (250, 500, and 1000 mg/kg) on different blood cells and associated parameters was investigated. The behavior, food, and water consumption of the rats were recorded. Boswellic acids were present in varying amounts with α-boswellic acid and β-boswellic acid present in more amounts compared to other boswellic acids in the extract. All three doses tested had no effect on the animals' behavior, food consumption, or weight gain. The administration of a low (500 mg/kg) and high (1000 mg/kg) dose of the extract resulted in a non-dose dependent reduction in MCH (p < 0.01 and p < 0.05, respectively), but no other blood parameters were significantly affected. The B. sacra extract produces hypochromic normocytic anemia in rats at higher doses of 500 and 1000 mg/kg and this effect was not dose-dependent.

Keywords: Blood toxicity; boswellic acid; cell counts; haematopoietic system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Boswellia* / chemistry
  • Frankincense*
  • Methanol
  • Plant Extracts / toxicity
  • Rats
  • Resins, Plant


  • Plant Extracts
  • Resins, Plant
  • Frankincense
  • Methanol