Boswellia: Systematically scoping the in vitro, in vivo and clinical research

Karen Pilkington, Geoffrey John Pilkington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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IntroductionBoswellia is a genus of shrubs or small/medium trees in which there is continued interest in a number of species for their potential medicinal use. . This review aimed to produce a ‘map’ of research on Boswellia to identify the potential for translation of research findings across different areas and identify any research gaps.

Methods: Searches were carried out using major databases for in vitro, in vivo and clinical studies on any condition or disease, involving Boswellia species and extracts. Data were extracted on the health condition or disease, study type, Boswellia species and form being investigated.

Results: 5296 records were retrieved resulting in 657 relevant research papers; 297 (45.2%) reported in vitro studies, 236 (40.0%) reported in vivo studies, and 68 (10.3%) reported clinical studies. Studies were located corresponding to 20 of 21 health research categories, the most frequently researched being Cancer and Neoplasms, Inflammatory and Immune System, and Infection. The species Boswellia serrata and Boswellia sacra have undergone most investigation. Different forms of Boswellia were employed with boswellic acids, specifically Acetyl-11-keto-β-Boswellic acid (AKBA) and 11-Keto-β-Boswellic acid (KBA) generating most interest. Significant numbers of animal studies were located but few clinical studies.

Conclusions: The extent, range and nature of the research on extracts and products derived from Boswellia species is revealed. Research is highlighted which may have more widely applicable results (for example on pharmacokinetics, delivery and toxicity), as are current research gaps and potential targets for greater collation of existing data to reduce duplication.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102197
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Integrative Medicine
Early online date18 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2022


  • Boswellia
  • frankincense
  • review
  • in vitro techniques
  • animal experimentation
  • clinical trials


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