Top 6 Side Effects Of Boswellia Serrata in Arthritis

Top 6 Side Effects Of Boswellia Serrata in Arthritis

Boswellia is one of the best herbs for joint pain, because it fights inflammation in a natural way. But no herb is 100% perfect, and this one makes no exception. It has enough downsides, mainly because of the adverse reactions it can cause. 

So which are the most common side effects of Boswellia Serrata? It can cause different problems, but I will only talk about those from arthritis. After all, that’s one of the condition it’s recommended for. 

Note: As it’s a natural herb. Boswellia doesn’t cause as many side effects as classic drugs. So don’t worry, compared to regular drugs, it’s pretty safe and it shouldn’t produce you any bad reactions normally.


1. Allergies

Skin rashes usually appear when you’re using a Boswellia-based cream or lotion. It may happen because your body could be sensitive to the substances inside or simply because it’s not used to them.

In some cases, your body can get used to the cream after a while. But in most situations, it won’t. So if you notice you’re getting a rash constantly from any cream with Bsowellia, it’s probably because you’re allergic to it. 

However, allergies can also appear if you take herbal supplements with this plant. In this case, things could be worse because you could get a massive rash. With creams, it would only happen locally, in the area where you applied it. But if you took a pill by mouth, the rash could be more severe. 

Obviously, these are pretty rare cases. I personally never knew someone allergic to Boswellia, but I’ve read about some rare situations. So it can happen, even though it’t not likely.

But if you’re unlucky enough to be allergic to this herb, stop using the lotion or the supplements. In case things are more severe, try to see a doctor as soon as you can. 


2. Diarrhea

Top 6 Side Effects Of Boswellia Serrata in ArthritisThat’s probably the most common side effect of any herbal supplement. Just like turmeric, Boswellia can also cause diarrhea in certain patients. But it usually happens when the doses you’re taking are too high.

I know a lot of people who increase the dose of a supplement if it doesn’t work. I also did that myself a couple of times, but not with Boswellia pills. Instead of taking the recommended 2 pills, I started taking 3, just because I got no improvement with 2. Once you do this, you’re taking the risk.

So if you want to stay on the safe side, I advise you to respect the recommended dose for your Boswellia supplement.

However, if you experience diarrhea immediately after you start taking the pills, you body may not tolerate this substance. Let’s say you’re taking the recommended dose and you start having this problem from the first days. In this case, you’re probably sensitive to this herb or to some additional ingredient.

So you should either give up the pills, or try another brand and see if you have the same symptoms. 


3. Stomach Problems

Besides diarrhea, Boswellia can also cause stomach pain and nausea, but only if you’re taking it by mouth. If you’re only using a cream based on this herb, there’s nothing to worry about. You can’t really get any stomach problems from applying it on your skin.

So why can Boswellia supplements cause stomach pain? Compared to other herbs, Boswellia is a pretty good anti-inflammatory, because it has a higher potency. If you put together Boswellia and celery, for example, the first one will clearly be the winner. Celery is not bad at all, but it’s not as strong as Boswellia. So that’s why it also has a higher risk for stomach issues. 

Turmeric is also famous for the stomach pain it may cause sometimes, and there’s the same reason behind. 

So what exactly can you do about it? What I strongly recommend you is to take the pills only after eating.

I’ve seen some supplements that recommend taking the pills before the meal, but I personally don’t agree with that. Both turmeric and Boswellia can produce nausea, but it usually happens when you’re taking them on an empty stomach. So if you take them after eating, things should get better from this point of view. 


4. Dermatitis

Top 6 Side Effects Of Boswellia Serrata in ArthritisThough it’s not something common, Boswellia creams can produce allergic dermatitis in people who are sensitive. According to a 2014 study, even creams that are based on a natural extract from Boswellia can lead to this skin problem.

If you don’t know how dermatitis looks like, it’s some kind of rash that isn’t painful. It can also be itchy sometimes, depending on how severe it is. In most cases, it’s pretty minor and it goes away on its own. A lot of medicines can produce dermatitis on paper, but the percent is extremely small in reality.

That’s why it’s pretty unlikely that you ever develop this side effect from Boswellia. But if unexpected happens and you do, chances are that you get an easy form.

So don’t worry too much about getting contact dermatitis from Boswellia. It’s a pretty minor side effect, in my opinion, and it can even go unnoticed. In case you notice any rash in the spot where you applied the cream, simply add some ice on it and stop using the cream. It should go away pretty soon.


5. Acid Reflux

This is another digestive side effects that Boswellia can produce, but once again, there are very few cases reported throughout the years. 

So what exactly is acid reflux? Well, you surely had a burning pain in your chest after eating, didn’t you? That’s acid reflux, or heartburn. It appears when some of the stomach contents gets back up into the esophagus. As there’s a lot of acid in the stomach, your esophagus will feel like burning. On the long term, this can cause other heath problems.

But when it comes to Boswellia supplements, things aren’t that bad. As I said, they can produce this side effect, but the real cases are pretty rare. So there are little chances that you really develop this problem, if you ask me.

If you already had acid reflux problems in the past, then the chances can increase, but it’s still pretty unlikely. If you respect the recommended dose and what the label says, I think you’re pretty safe.


6. Pregnancy Issues

Top 6 Side Effects Of Boswellia Serrata in ArthritisBoswellia is one of the few herbs that is prohibited during pregnancy by most doctors. In certain doses, it can cause birth related problems or it can even induce abortion. That’s because it increases blood flow in the uterus, which is quite dangerous in pregnancy.

So what happens if you have pregnancy-related joint pain? It’s quite normal, because of a hormone that relaxes the joints and makes them more loose. 

Well, unless your doctor specifically recommends you Boswellia, try to avoid it by any means. Chances are that it will not hurt you, but who knows if you’re not among that small percent of women that can get affected by it? I think it’s not worth the risk.

So if you’re dealing with severe joint pain during your pregnancy, talk to your doctor. I know several supplements that are good for joint pain, but I would never advise a pregnant woman to take any pill without her doctor’s consent. In this situation, it’s better to stay safe.


My Verdict – So Is Boswellia Serrata Dangerous?

This article may seem really frightening, because there are lots of health problems that Boswellia can produce. But in reality, there are very small chances that you get any of these side effects.

Just think about the regular aspirin. If you check out its label, you will see it can cause so many serious side effects. And I’m pretty sure you took aspirin lots of times without getting any of them. And it’s the same for most supplements – most people will never experience their side effects.

So if this article made you believe that Boswellia is pretty dangerous, I think you should really give it a try and see for yourself. It will probably bring you a lot more benefits than side effects. And if you suffer from chronic arthritis, it’s a pretty good remedy.

I personally prefer turmeric, because it worked much better for me. But Boswellia is pretty good as well, so if you find a product based on it that seems really worth it, I think you should give it a shot.

Heather Pharm.D.

Heather Tracy Foley is a Pharmacy graduate, Blogger and Author with a vast experience in health sciences. She has a particular interest in joint pain and rheumatology and spent several years studying health problems. You can find her on Pinterest or via email.

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6 Responses

  1. Zafar Rashid says:

    Thanks a lot for good Information, can you guide about how to consume it in raw form

  2. Heather says:

    Hi Zafar, I didn’t really consume Boswellia in the raw form, because it’s harder to find in the US (compared to the supplement form).

    I only heard about the powder form – is that what you mean? If it is, you simply have to take a tablespoon (or how much the label recommends) with water. You can also dissolve it first and drink it.

    So that’s the only other form I know about, besides the supplement. Hope it helps.

  3. Karen H. says:

    Hi Heather, I developed Nocardia lung infection while on Methotraxate, steroids and Humira for RA which all bring down the immune system. So I had to give them all up and the RA came back and it’s been rough. I found that taking anything and everything that’s anti-inflammatory is helping. I learned Devils Claw works a lot like Boswellia but learned about Devils Claw first. It really helped but I got diarrhea from it. As I went shopping for Boswellia I had cut back on recommended dose for Devils Claw and not problems. Would you happen to know if taking the two together would be a bad idea? Thanks for your site and wonderful information. Karen

  4. Heather says:

    Hey Karen, from what I know – there shouldn’t be any issue taking them together. They’re herbal extracts and they don’t interact with each other, as far as I know.

    But do you want to take them as pills or as raw extracts?

    I know Devil’s Claw is really good for inflammation – but if gives you diarrhea, why come back to it? Have you tried Boswellia alone? In my case, Boswellia was a pretty strong anti-inflammatory – so it should normally work better than Devil’s Claw. And maybe your body would react better to it, who knows? So you should try Boswellia alone before taking them both.

    I don’t know if you tried turmeric. It’s my #1 recommendation for RA, because it’s the strongest anti-inflammatory among herbal extracts (stronger even than Boswellia). You can use it raw by adding it to your diet or as supplements.

    But in RA, you usually need a high dose – so raw turmeric isn’t going to help a lot, due to absorption issues. On the other hand, supplements are designed to have a better absorption – so I highly recommend them for RA.

    So overall, my advice for you would be to try Boswellia alone before you use it along with Devil’s Claw. Or even better, you could give turmeric a try – because it’s stronger than both.

    Either way, let me know how it goes. And if there’s anything you don’t understand, feel free to get back to me. Hope this helps.

  5. Trank Lomeli says:

    Heather… Can you recommend a reliable brand, with recommended dosage for boswallia and turmeric (concentrate) capsules? I say concentrate due to not remembering the key ingredient active ingredient extracted out of turmeric. Thank y0u.

  6. Heather Pharm.D. says:

    Hey Trank, you can try a product from Fresh Nutrition, it contains a pretty high dose of curcuminoides (turmeric extract) and Boswellia as well.

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