Frankincense: systematic reviewBMJ 2008; 337 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.a2813 (Published 18 December 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a2813
- E Ernst, professor
- 1Complementary Medicine, Peninsula Medical School, Universities of Exeter and Plymouth, Exeter EX2 4NT, UK
- Accepted 23 November 2008
Objective To assess evidence from randomised clinical trials about the effectiveness of extracts of Boswellia serrata (frankincense).
Design Systematic review.
Data sources Electronic searches on Medline, Embase, Cinahl, Amed, and Cochrane Library. Hand searches of conference proceedings, bibliographies, and departmental files.
Review methods All randomised clinical trials of B serrata extract as a treatment for any human medical condition were included and studies of B serrata preparations combined with other ingredients were excluded. Titles and abstracts of all retrieved articles were read and hard copies of all relevant articles were obtained. Selection of studies, data extraction and validation were done by the author. The Jadad score was used to evaluate the methodological quality of all included trials.
Results Of 47 potentially relevant studies, seven met all inclusion criteria (five placebo controlled, two with active controls). The included trials related to asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, osteoarthritis, and collagenous colitis. Results of all trials indicated that B serrata extracts were clinically effective. Three studies were of good methodological quality. No serious safety issues were noted.
Conclusions The evidence for the effectiveness of B serrata extracts is encouraging but not compelling.
I thank Shao Kang Hung for doing the duplicate Jadad scores and Kate Boddy for the literature searches.
Funding: This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests: None declared.
Ethical approval: Not required.
Provenance and peer review: Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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