Shallaki: Boswellia serrata Uses, Dose, Research, Side Effects

Shallaki – Boswellia serrata is a famous herb used mainly for the treatment of osteo-arthritis and muscular pains. It is widely used as a substitute to modern pain killer medicines. It also possesses promises on cancer treatment. 

Botanical names- Boswellia serrata Roxb, Olibanum indicum.
Family- bursuraceae (guggulu kula)

Olibanum, Boswellia serrata

Vernacular names

Names in different languages:
English name- Indian Olibanum tree, Gum is called Indian frankincense, Boswellia gum
Hindi name- Salay, Salai
Marathi name – Salai
Telugu name- Andugum chettu, Gum is called Anduga Banka, Kunduru Guggilammu, Sanibrani, Paraginsavani, Phirangi, Anduga, Guggilamu
Kannada name- Madi
Malayalam name – Salayi, Salai, Kunturukkam, Samprani, Parangi, Mukundam
Gujarati name – Salode, Dhupado
Tamil name -Paraginavani, Parankisampirani, Parangi, Attam
Telugu name – Pamragisamvrani
Arabic  –   Bastaj, Kundur, Luban
Bengali name – Kundur, Laban, Salai
Bombay   –  Salai, Salaphali, Salayudhup, Salga, Guggula
Urdu name – Kundur, Lobana
Uriya  – Loban

Sanskrit synonyms

Shallaki, Suvaha, Vallaki, Sara, Maheruna, Kunduruki, Vallaki, Hlada, Ashwamutri, Maherana,
Gajabhakshya – Its leaves are eaten by elephants
Surabhi – The gum resin has good odor
Susrava, Bahusrava – having gum resin
Vanya – Grows wild
Mocha – Sallaki releases exudate
Bahusrava – Sallaki releases profuse quantity of exudate
tyasraphala – Fruit of Sallaki is trigonus
Hladani – It pleases the mind because of its aroma
Surabhisrava -Exudate of Sallaki has aroma
Maherana – Sallaki has eaten by Elephants

The term Kunduru is used to indicate resin. Its Sanskrit synonyms are –
Mukunda, Sugandha, Kunda.

Interpretation of synonyms

  1. Kunduruki  – appears like kunduru
  2. Gajabhaksya  – elephants consume its leaves
  3. Maheruna – looks very beautiful
  4. Rasa – has good taste
  5. Shallaki – it is to be consumed more because of its good taste
  6. Surabhi -aroma is really good
  7. Suraha- aroma carried by air in all direction
Indian Olibanum


Punjab region of India and Pakistan


Habit- A deciduous middle sized tree.
Bark- Ash-coloured, peeling off in thin flakes, young shoots and leaves pubescent.

Leaves- Compound, leaflets are opposite, sessile, Variable in shape, ovate or ovate lanceolate, usually in equilateral and obtuse, crenate-serrate; more or less pubescent, base in acute, rounded.
Inflorescence- Axillary raceme

Flowers- Calyx pubescent outside lobes broadly triangular-ovate, Petals are 5 mm long, ovate, stamens are inserted at the base of and annular crenate disk.
Fruits- Drupe

Useful part- Niryasa (Exudate)

Market samples will have hardened, opaque or translucent tears of greenish white, golden yellow or light brown color, occurring in various sizes. The shape ranges from round and club shaped to typical stalactite. On breaking becomes short pieces exposing a shining glossy surface. It has got turpentine like odor, tastes astringent.

Chemical composition

Boswellia Serrata  Chemical composition:
Bark B- sitosterol, Glucosides
The resin consists of monoterpenes, diterpenes, triterpenes, tetracyclic triterpenic acids and four major pentacyclic triterpenic acids i.e. β-boswellic acid, acetyl-β-boswellic acid, 11-keto-β-boswellic acid and acetyl-11-keto-β-boswellic acid.

Classical categorization

Sallaki – Classical categorisation
Charaka – Pureesha virajaniya – Group of herbs that impart natural colour to feces
Sushruta- Rodhradi gana, Eladi Gana (gum)
Vagbhata – Gum – Eladi Gana, Rodhradi Gana,
Bhavaprakasha – Vatadi Varga (Bark), Karpooradi Varga (resin)


According to Yunani system of medicine, based on Aakrati and Varna – Kunduru is of five types.

  1. Nara Kunduru – red, yellow, round
  2. Mada Kunduru  – pale color, in bigger pieces
  3. Gola Kunduru
  4. Kishara kunduru – shape of parpati
  5. Dukaka Kunduru  – in powder form

Variety: Boswellia floribunda is also used in the name of Kunduru

Medicinal properties

Boswellia serrata medicinal properties:
Guna (qualities) – Laghu – light to digest , Rooksha – Dryness
Rasa (taste) – Kashaya (astringent), Tikta – (bitter), Madhura – (sweet)
Vipaka- Katu – Undergoes pungent taste conversion after digestion
Veerya – Sheeta – Coolant
Effect on Tridosha – Balances Kapha and Pitta

Systemic classification

Division – Angiosperm
Sub division – Dicotyledon
Class – Polypetallae
Subclass – Discflorae
Order – Geraniales
Family – Burseraceae

Part used, dosage

Part used- Bark, gum
Dosage– bark decoction 50-100 ml
Gum 1-3 g


Boswelia carteri
Boswellia frereana


Garuga pennata

Sanskrit verse

Boswellia serrata uses

Boswellia uses

Bark –
Pushtikrut – improves nourishment
Grahi – absorbent, useful in diarrhea, IBS

Indicated in –
Atisara – diarrhea, dysentery
Raktapitta –Bleeding disorders such as nasal bleeding, heavy periods, etc
Vrana – Ulcers, wounds
Kushta – Known to cure skin diseases
Asra – blood disorders such as abscess, skin disorders, bleeding disorders such as menorrhagia, nasal bleeding etc.
Arsha – hemorrhoids
Vranadoshahara – cleanses wounds
Shoola – Pain

Madhura – sweet
Katu – Pungent
Tikta – bitter
Teekshna – strong, piercing
Tvachya – good for skin

Indicated in –
Jwara – fever
Sweda – excess sweating
Graha, Alakshmi – psychological disorders
Mukharoga – oral disorders

Boswellia serrata extract is extensively used for treating osteoarthritis of the knee. It relieves pain and improves joint mobility and flexibility. It is also used for treating rheumatoid arthritis.

It is indicated in treating asthma, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease etc.

Sallaki in Samhita texts

According to Charaka Samhita
Sallaki is explained in the part written by Dradhabala. He has categorized it as Shirovirechaneeya, cleansing nasal therapy and Pureeshvirajaneeya

According to Sushruta Samhita
Sushruta has cited it as stambana – i.e. anti diarrhoeal. Also considered under Eladigana, kashayaskanda, Lodhradigana.

He has mentioned its use in cough, asthma, blood in stool, pain in the region of bladder etc.

According to Astanga Hradaya
Sallaki can be used in mrudhu kind of smoke, for shaman type of doomapana and also in ulcers after suturing.

The use of the Niryasa is mentioned widely by the Yunani Hakim’s. The use of kunduru is also explained by them.

  • Shodala has said that Sallaki can be used in diabetes and pain in vrashana.
  • Bhavamishra in Bhavaprakash Nigantu has mentioned uses therapeutically – in chronic and deep wounds, is gandamala, granthi, Sandhivata, Asthishosham rickets and in foul breath.

According to Priya Nigantu – Sallaki is used especially in yoni roga and Dhupanartha.

Medicines with Shallaki

Market available products with Sallaki –
Many companies manufacture capsules with Shallaki extracts  Viz, Gufic, Himalaya, Herbal Hills, Dr Wadke etc. 
Amway Nutrilite manufactures  Glucosamine Hcl With Boswellia. Glucosamine is an amino protein used in relieving inflammation of joints. This along with Boswellia relieves pain and inflammation.
Bipha manufactures Salai guggul extract in the name of Aikout tablet.

Ayurvedic medicines with Salai Guggul ingredient:
Jirakadi Modak – 
used for treatment of diseases of digestive tract such as dyspepsia.
Arthronav Liniment, Inflanil oil –
used for external application to relieve pain and inflammation

Boswellia serrata essential oil

Also called Frankincense Oil – is used in aromatherapy.
It is used for palm inhalation. Put a few drops of the oil into your palm, rub gently and inhale. It is said to improve mind clarity and concentration.
It is also advertised to add the essential oil to skin cream to improve skin cream’s efficacy.
The oil is also used for massage.
For oral consumption,  1-2 drops of this oil is added to 8 ounces of water or to a tablespoon of honey and consumed. Orally, it is used for the treatment of low digestion strength. It has potential to treat ovarian cancer (research)

Side effects

Boswellia serrata Side effects:
Shallaki extract capsules cause gastric irritation. Hence, people with sensitive stomach or gastritis find it difficult to take the capsule. However, as per my experience, when compared to Guggulu capsule, the gastric irritation found with Boswellia is less and is better tolerated than Guggulu capsules.
Such people can take it just 5 minutes after food to lessen the gastric irritation.
Shallaki capsule can be taken during lactation and in children. Seek medical guidance for its use during pregnancy.

The Frankincesne oil or the essential oil can be taken orally, but make sure that the essential oil is genuine and not synthetically produced chemically scented  / perfume material.
While applying externally, just put a drop on the forearm skin and rub and watch for any adverse allergic reaction. If you find any, consult your doctor immediately.

Interaction with medicines, supplements

Can this be used while taking Homeopathic medicine?
Yes. This product does not react with homeopathic medicine.

Can this medicine be continued while taking supplements like multivitamin tablets, Omega 3 fatty acids etc?
Yes. Generally, this product goes well with most dietary supplements. However, if you are taking more than one product per day, please consult your doctor for an opinion.

With western medicines
Seek your doctor’s advice if you are taking this product along with other western (allopathic / modern) medicines. Some Ayurvedic herbs can interact with modern medicine.
If both Ayurvedic and allopathic medicines are advised together, then it is best to take Allopathic medicine first, wait for 30 minutes and then take the Ayurvedic medicine

Shallaki for herbal smoking

As per Charaka Samhita Sutrasthana 5/19-20, Shallaki is used as an ingredient for Dhumapana – medicated herbal smoking. 
Being a scented gum resin, Shallaki is used in many Ayurvedic herbal smoking combinations (Dhumapana). It is used as a base along with many other herbs. Read more about Ayurvedic Herbal smoking


Anti inflammatory activity
Effect on diabetes, liver enzymes and lipid levels
Boswellia sacra essential oil induces tumour cell-specific apoptosis and suppresses tumor aggressiveness in cultured human breast cancer cells Research

Grades of resin

According to modern system four grades of gum-resin

  1. Superfine Grade – is translucent, very light yellow in color free from bark and other impurities
  1. Qualities I – is brownish yellow, less translucent and free from bark and impurities
  2. Qualities II – is brownish, semi translucent and may have some impurities
  3. Qualities III – is dark brown, opaque and with impurities

Sthanika Karma (Systemic Action)

External – It has Anti inflammatory, Analgesic, wound cleansing and healing, Anti microbial properties. Good for eyes. External application of its hot paste can be used in Joint disorders, Goiter, Lymph node enlargement, pain in the flanks, diabetes carbuncles etc. Collyrium prepared out of Sallaki with honey is indicated in eye diseases. Facilitate movement of vata dosha in normal direction.

Nervous System – Act as a nervous tonic

Digestive System – Carminative, digestant, absorbent. Can be used as a mouth freshener. Indicated in Diarrhea, Loss of appetite, Abdominal distension, Malabsorption syndrome, Hemorrhoids etc.

Circulatory System – Good for heart, Styptic. indicated in bleeding disorders.

Respiratory System – In Chronic Cough, Breathing disorders etc. it can be used for Herbal smoking, which helps to expel out vitiated kapha dosha.

Excretory System – increases urine production. Indicated in puyameha (Pus in urine, Calculi, and in dysuria

Reproductive system – Aphrodisiac. Indicated in reduced semen quality, Leukorrhea etc.

Skin – Indicated in Skin disorders

Satmikarana –Has rejuvenative action, Promote strength. Indicated in general debility

Tapakrama – Indicated in fever

26 comments on “Shallaki: Boswellia serrata Uses, Dose, Research, Side Effects

  • shiv

    17/07/2015 - 9:59 am

    I find this article very profound and well researched. Further the knowledge of drugs as in manufactured form,available in the market, is a very good feature.

    Reply to comment
  • lakshmi

    27/07/2015 - 6:25 am

    very good info. thank you . is -Amway Nutrilite manufactures Glucosamine Hcl With Boswellia. contains any animal source or natural ingredients?
    please clarify.
    thank you.

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      21/08/2015 - 9:52 pm

      Most glucosamine supplements are made from the exoskeletons, or outer shells, of crustaceans.

      Reply to comment
  • Rajesh shukla

    09/08/2015 - 10:47 pm

    Unique.but take under selected dosages under consult of ayurvedic dr.shallaki is tremendous herbs and gum are beneficial.

    Reply to comment
  • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

    22/06/2016 - 12:30 pm

    Better to get the cause of the ankle pain evaluated from an Ayurveda doctor, before using Shallaki.

    Reply to comment
  • ss

    22/08/2016 - 11:24 am

    Sir, do you recommend Shallaki Extract or Shallaki Churna? Since Shallaki Churna only consists of the grounded resin I would think that taking the Churna is the more traditional ayurvedic way. Extracts were not available back in those ancient times. I was hoping you could clarify that for me. Thank you.

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      23/08/2016 - 5:09 pm

      I would recommend Shallaki churna or shallaki, ground into the form of tablet.
      As a matter of fact, the Kashaya (water soluble extract), ghee (water and fat soluble extract) etc are different ways of ancient methods of extraction.

      Reply to comment
  • Khalid Lakdawala

    13/09/2016 - 12:04 am

    Dear Sir, It is a beautiful article.

    Shallaki is a part of my from Ulcerative Colitis treatment, but as you say it can cause gastritis and stomach disturbance, it worries me…what should I do?


    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      13/09/2016 - 10:26 pm

      Please follow your doctor’s suggestion.

      Reply to comment
  • justathought

    21/05/2017 - 6:52 pm

    May I add there is a green variety from Oman that is said to be the best for medicinal purposes. It also happens to be the most expensive

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      04/06/2017 - 10:30 pm

      Thanks for the information 🙂

      Reply to comment
  • Lana D.

    07/09/2017 - 12:28 pm

    Hello, my father is cancer, and he has brain tumors with edema. Some doctors suggested that he can take boswellia capsuls 6 g per day. Can we divide it in three dose like 4 capsuls (each capsul is 500 mg) every 8 hours? Is it possible to take them? Thank you..

    Reply to comment

    12/09/2017 - 11:14 am


    Reply to comment
  • Harpal

    16/09/2017 - 8:52 am

    Namaste Sir, many many thanks for the nice and informative articles and your interactions,I and many have confusion regarding Hindi and English names of loban, guggul,lohban,sambrani,myrrh, frankincense,etc.even on net also it’s not very clear, I actually need it for aromatherapy purpose,can you spare your valuable time and answer it, thanks and regards

    Reply to comment
  • Shubham

    03/11/2017 - 7:25 am

    Sir my father is going through knee it good to take himalaya shallaki tablets with both are good for knees n bones…pls advice thnk u

    Reply to comment
  • B

    23/04/2018 - 7:46 pm

    My joints are stiff in morning, during the day it is difficult to walk .I have Achilles tendinitis , very painful foot. I have controlled Diabetes & take heart med which is stable too.Is it advisable to take Sallki 400 mg for this aches & pain

    Reply to comment
  • manoj

    01/05/2018 - 9:10 pm

    your advises are very informative and isgiven directly helping every body who go through this appreciable task.

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      03/05/2018 - 6:42 pm

      No. It increases bleeding.

      Reply to comment
  • Sabyasachi Behera

    10/05/2018 - 4:27 pm

    What I know taking good quality of shallaki is good
    i.e. higher content of AKBA content.

    Reply to comment
  • Esha

    07/06/2018 - 9:10 am

    What is the best anupan when taking shallaki churna orally?

    Reply to comment
  • Arjun

    03/07/2018 - 10:12 am

    Respected Sir, Can a little ganglionic cyst in knee be cured by applying frankincense oil externally or by consuming frankincense oil or by consuming shallaki capsules ?

    Reply to comment
  • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

    28/08/2018 - 12:11 pm

    Himalaya Shallaki – 1 tablet / capsule of 125 mg, 2 times a day after food for 15 days.

    Reply to comment
  • Avinash

    28/12/2018 - 10:18 am

    Respected Sir,
    Can you please advise if one can take Shallaki for treatment of ulcerative colitis? Also would you mind sharing the book name for above mentioned sanskrit shlok?
    Thanks in advance.

    Reply to comment

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