Considering quite a few positive reviews on pubmed (e.g. this Chinese one from 2020), healthline is probably a bit too careful in its report of a little bit of scientific evidence that Boswellia is good for arthritis (OA, 2x170mg/d), gut (IBS, colitis; 250mg/d), asthma, gums and cancer, too little evidence for diabetes, stress/anxiety/depression, heart disease, smooth skin, memory, hormones/PMS and fertility. Sfx: indigestion, constipation, acid reflux, diarrhea, nausea, skin rashes. (2nd healthline link on that - but probably on the same page, lower down, it was for me).
(The sfx are why I probably won’t try it, considering I don’t tolerate any anti-inflammatory spices, but am wondering if I might try the oil for skin and gums, altho I already have success with tea tree oil, and could try the myrrh essence I have too.)
Fx mentioned elsewhere, e.g. in above mentioned review: anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic and analgesic agent. It has been used here by @Kronicchick, @Nancy_M, @Hopabout and for at least 3 days @Lil_Al, but all with scant details how it’s helping.
I've had to go into a load more details here, if you're inclined, about the differences between the B. serrata (Indian Fr.), B. carteri(i) ("African") synonym of B. sacra (Arabian, same species, but different resin chemistry) and B. papyrifera (actually also African, like many more), because a recent study found that B. papyrifera is 10x as anti-inflammatory as B. serrata...
I’d seen boswellia mentioned a couple of times, but looking it up didn’t make it sound relevant to me, cos it was mainly mentioned for arthritis, which I don’t have. Now my acupressurist has asked me to order specifically “African Frankincense.” That’s now made me more curious, and first things that caught my eye were “anti-inflammatory”, “stiffness” and a positive pubmed-review; so here goes…
Incense is the name for substances that really fragrant smoke went burnt, in church, meditation, aromatherapy, deodorant or insect repellent. Frankincense means ‘high quality’ incense. Many people use “Frankincense” only for the resin which is burnt.
A German study found what they call “African” frankincense is better: that’d actually be Boswellia carteri (formerly carterii) - altho many types of frankincense are specifically found in Africa, so I researched if it really was, and it wasn’t… Even more complicated: Above mentioned German study actually refers to Boswellia papyrifera, as I found here in English: Frankincense as a Medicine, and German: Weihrauch als Heilmittel
Plus B. carteri (“African”) has been found to be the same species as, so a synonym for, B. sacra (“Arabian Frankincense”, same species, but different resin chemistry) (see wikipedia,and this research. Whilst “The Revisionist” says it’s similar, comparing the contents shows many differences. Carteri he cites has much more α-thujene than sacra (7.9% vs. 0.6%), much less α-pinene (37.3% vs. 68.2%) and much more limonene+β-phellandrene (14.4% vs. 6.2%).
So I’ve had to ask my acupressurist what exactly she read. If she read about carteri(i), then I can get her this product.
Papyrifera you can get as resin. I thought I’d found a German pharmacy which would make capsules from it, but they say according to the European Pharmacopoiea they’re not allowed to, only from serrata. I’ve found it on amazon, but not in supply, and the same product here, without expressly saying it’s papyrifera. Probably a lot cheaper to encapsulate it yourself, The Revisionist in a comment writes you’d have to freeze then grind it. He says it is a common type, might help MS, and his take on it is it’s no good for him as it disturbs his sensitive stomach - so nothing for me either.
The sort used most commonly in Germany is Indian frankincense, boswellia serrata, going by what the Germany pharmacy says and also the products I’ve seen. The Chinese review from 2020 that found it to be effective only talks about serrata, but did its research on all types.
Wikipedia reports studies favouring it for conditions like asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel diseases, osteoarthritis, and multiple sclerosis, the oil is antimicrobial, animal studies suggest it’s neuroprotective.
Dr. Axe states that most of the 20 sorts of Boswellia known come from northeast Africa, where it probably originated, but doesn’t contain information about B. papyrifera. They say it improves inflammation, joint and arthritis pain, fights cancer, infections, prevents autoimmune diseases. Compares it to turmeric/curcumin.
"The revisionist has experienced it as brain enhancing, but reports all types being anti-inflammatory (e.g. Crohn’s), antioxidant, analgesic (pain killing), tranquilizing, anti-bacterial, expectorant, antiseptic, anxiolytic and antineurotic, whilst carteri/sacra and serrata also stop tumours. Carteri caused him a little stomach pain, but increases lymphocytes (immune system). Anecdotes about the oil: Back pain, arthritis, migraine with nausea (sublingual or roof of mouth), relaxing for sleep, anxiety and praps anger.
(Boswellia Dalzielii he says is used by natives in Western Africa, e.g. Nigeria, to treat arthritis, rheumatism, leprosy, heart problems, and as an antidote to venomous stings, bites, liver, kidneys (diuretic), tuberculosis, gingivitis, skin disorders, digestive disorders, musculoskeletal system disorders, and nervous system disorders, breathing problems & infections.)
(Boswellia Frereana helps him concentrate and improves his stomach sensitivity and gut - less laxative, the lupeol contained has many benefits. Boswellia papyrifera harms his GI tract.)
The resin of Boswellia sacra (‘Arabian’) he says is “very similar” to that of carteri (‘African’). But as I wrote above the contents differ. It’s for teeth/gum, for stimulating the digestive process, bad breath, arthritic joint pain, cancer, anti-inflammatory, analgesic.
The high content of α-pinene inhibts Acetylcholinesterase, the enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine in the brain. So it increases acetylcholine neurotransmitters, improving memory, focus, executive function, and many other functions of the brain. Relaxing, more focused, without sedation.
This a bit naively written article clearly distinguishes between the sacra and carteri, comparing these with frearana.
The biggest constituent of Boswellia serrata (the Indian) is again α-thujene, 12%, which is more than in carteri and much more than in sacra. Also boswellian acids with their anti-tumor properties seem highest (30%) in serrata. It’s used fo “cancer, inflammation, arthritis, asthma, psoriasis, colitis, and hyperlipidemia.” By inhibiting the arachidonate 5-lipoxygenase enzyme (ALOX5).
(Here are most sorts and their origin: Boswellia.org » 3.1 Botanik and [here a list of 20+ by ](Boswellia — The Plant List, or the new list incl. whether they are accepted or not). This link there says: Boswellia carteri and B. frereana are the main sources of frankincense today, while B. papyrifera was the principal source of antiquity and B. sacra was the principal species of classical times.) This contradicts that I’ve seen mainly serrata used.