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Boswellia serrata, Boswellia glabra, Boswellia thurifera, Bursera thurifera

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Shivani Kagra* & K.L. Dahiya**


* Pursuing Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgeory; Lal Bahadur Shastri Mahila Ayurvedic College and Hospital, Bilaspur (Yamuna Nagar), Haryana, India

** Kurukshetra Global City, Kurukshetra, Haryana, India


Vernacular name:

Assamese: Sallaki

Bengali: Luban, Salai, Salgai

English: Indian Olibanum, Indian Olibanum Tree, Indian frankincense

Gujarati: Saleda, Saladi, Gugal, Saledhi, Saaledi, Salaai gugul, Shaledum

Hindi: Salai, Labana, Luban, Shallaki, Kundur,

Kannada: Guggula mara, Madimar, Chilakdupa, Maddi ,Tallaki

Kashmiri: Kunturukkam, Samprani

Malayalam: Kungilyam

Marathi: Dhupali, Dhupasali, Kurunda, Salaphali, Salai cha dink, Salai, Sali

Oriya: Salai

Punjabi: Salai Gonda

Sanskrit: Bhishan, Guggula, Hastinashana, Palank, Parvati, Hradini, Kurunda, Sallaki, Shallaki, Sruva

Tamil: Kumancam, Kundurukam, Kunkiliyam, Marattu-vellai, Parangi Sambrani, Paranki-c-campi-rani, Vellai-k-kirai

Telugu: Anduga, Kondagugi tamu, Guggilamu, Parangi sambrani, Parangi-sambrani-chettu, Sallaki

Urdu: Kundur, Lobana

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Kingdom: Plantae – plantes, Planta, Vegetal, plants

Subkingdom: Viridiplantae

Infrakingdom: Streptophyta – land plants

Superdivision: Embryophyta

Division: Tracheophyta – vascular plants, tracheophytes

Subdivision: Spermatophytina – spermatophytes, seed plants, phanérogames

Class: Magnoliopsida

Superorder: Rosanae

Order: Sapindales

Family: Burseraceae – burseras

Genus: Boswellia Roxb. ex Colebr.

Species: Boswellia serrata Roxb. ex Colebr. – Indian Olibanum, Indian frankincense – (Syn. Boswellia glabra Roxb., Boswellia thurifera, Bursera thurifera)

Phytogeography: Endemic to India upto 900 meter in the hills and on dry land as a weed. Dry hills and slopes, on gravelly soils between an altitude range of 275-900 meter

Description: A medium sized deciduous tree, 3-5 meter tall, with ash coloured papery bark.

Leaves: Alternately arranged leaves are pinnate, crowded at the end of branches, 20-40 cm long. There are 8-15 pairs of leaflets, 3-6 cm long, with an odd one at the tip. Leaflets are ovate, with toothed margin.

Flowers: Flowers are tiny, creamy, about 8 mm across, borne in 10-15 cm long racemes in leaf axils. There are 10 stamens with a short style and a 3-lobed stigma.

Fruits or seeds: Fruits are 2 cm long, 3-cornered. Indian Olibanum tree, on injury, exudates an oleo-gum-resin known as Salai, Guggal or Indian Frankincense.

Flowering season: January

Parts used: Resins, gum, bark, root

Phytochemical Constituents: a-boswellic acid; b-boswellic acid; r-cymene; a-phellandrene; b-phellandrene; a-terpene; a-terpineol; a-thujene; 11-keto-b-boswellic acid; 3-a-acetoxytirucall-8,24-dien-21-oic acid; 3-b-hydroxytirucall-8, 24-dien-21-oic acid; 3-a-hydroxytirucall-8, 24-dien-oic acid; 3-ketotirucall-8, 24-dien-21-oic acid; 3-O-acetyl-b-boswellic acid; 3-O-acetyl-11-keto-b-boswellic acid; Boswellic acids; Camphene; Diterpene alcohol; Limonene; Myrcene; Serratol; Tetracyclic triterpene acids; Volatile oil.

Pharmacological actions: Analgesic; Anti-apoptotic; Antiarthritis; Antiatherosclerotic; Antibacterial; Anticancer; Anticancer; Antidiabetic; Antifungal; Antihyperlipidemic; Anti-inflammatory; Antimicrobial; Antioxidant; Anti-psoriasis; Antitumour; Cytotoxic; Hepatoprotective, hepatocuritive.

Medicinal uses: Arthritis; Bronchial asthma; Conjunctivitis; Disease of mouth; Dyspnoea; Epilepsy; Excessive vaginal discharge; Fever; Glycosuria; Hepatosis, hepatopathy, hepatitis; Jaundice; Leucoderma; Osteoarthritis; Pain; Psoriasis; Snake bite; Ulcerative colitis.

Extracts of Indian Olibanum have been clinically studied for osteoarthritis and joint function, particularly for osteoarthritis of the knee. A Boswellia extract marketed under the name Wokvel has undergone human efficacy, comparative, pharmacokinetic studies. Indian Olibanum is used in the manufacture of the supposed anti-wrinkle agent "Boswelox", which has been criticised as being ineffective. Oleo-resin given to treat jaundice. Bark good for vitiated condition of pitta.

Dosage and administration: Powder: 1-3 gm.

Exudate: 1-3 gm


Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia Committee, 2004, “The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India, Part I, Volume IV,” New Delhi, India: Government of India, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Department of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH).

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ITIS, 2017, “Boswellia serrata Roxb. ex Colebr.,” Integrated Taxonomic Information System on-line database, Retrieved on July 29, 2017. [Web Reference]

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Ranjbarnejad T., et al., 2017, “Methanolic extract of Boswellia serrata exhibits anti-cancer activities by targeting Microsomal Prostaglandin E Synthase-1 in human colon cancer cells,” Prostaglandins & Other Lipid Mediators; 131: 1-8. [Web Reference]

Sadhasivam S., Palanivel S. and Ghosh S., 2016, “Synergistic antimicrobial activity of Boswellia serrata Roxb. ex Colebr.(Burseraceae) essential oil with various azoles against pathogens associated with skin, scalp and nail infections,” Letters in applied microbiology; 63(6): 495-501. [Web Reference]

Subramoniam A., Madhavachandran V. and Gangaprasad A., 2013, “Medicinal plants in the treatment of arthritis,” Ann Phytomedicine; 2: 3-36. [Web Reference]

Surveswaran S., et al., 2007, “Systematic evaluation of natural phenolic antioxidants from 133 Indian medicinal plants,” Food Chemistry; 102(3): 938-953. [Web Reference]

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