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  • Boswellia vs. Boswellic Acid: Which is better?

    There are a multitude of equine joint supplements on the market that contain Boswellia, and it can be difficult to decide which one contains the most beneficial amount. In this article, we will look at why Boswellic acid is superior to Boswellia, and how much is needed to benefit your horse.

    What is Boswellia?

    Boswellia, scientifically known as Boswellia serrata is a branching tree found in mountainous regions of India, Northen Africa and the Middle East. Gum-resin is tapped from the trunk of the tree, before the oil content is removed and the resin is solidified.

    Boswellia has historically been used as medicine across the world due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Boswellic acid is the active ingredient in Boswellia, and has been found to be beneficial in the treatment of several human diseases such as asthma, arthritis, and Crohn’s disease. There has been consistent research into the use of Boswellia in equine nutraceuticals, and it has proved to be effective in short term pain reduction, however, there has been little research into the effects of Boswellia in isolation. Generally, the research has focused on Boswellia in conjunction with other compounds such as Curcumin.

    Why should I look for joint supplements that contain Boswellic acid?

    Boswellic acid is the active ingredient in Boswellia and is responsible for its anti-inflammatory properties. It is thought to inhibit leukotriene synthesis, the cells that control inflammation, as well as contribute to immune-regulating functions. Furthermore, it has been found to reduce the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which can decrease cartilage destruction. This suggests that, the higher the Boswellic acid content, the greater the results. Almost all of the research points to Boswellic acid being the reason that Boswellia is so beneficial, yet many equine supplements do not take this into consideration.

    There is still limited research into how much Boswellic acid is optimum for horses. One study in 2023 gave stabled horses 14.28g/kg of Boswellic acid in combination with other ingredients such as Curcumin, Glucosamine and DHA in the form of a liquid supplement. Blood samples were collected before and after supplementation, and it was found that the supplement reduced inflammatory and immune responses. This suggests that the 14.28g/kg Boswellic acid fed per day could be considered to a be an effective feeding amount when combined with other ingredients commonly found in joint supplements.

    When comparing supplements, it is important to look at the ingredients to determine whether one contains Boswellia or Boswellic acid, as one will be more beneficial than the other. If they don’t state this, and don’t state the numbers, then it is likely that they are very low. Our FlexAbility Professional joint supplement contains 11g pure Boswellic acids per daily feeding rate for the average 500kg horse, in line with what the current research suggests. It also contains ingredients such as Glucosamine and DHA, both of which have research to support their use alongside Boswellic acid.

    You can find out more about Science Supplements FlexAbility Professional here.



    Al-Harrasi, A., Rehman, N. U., Khan, A. L., Al-Broumi, M., Al-Amri, I., Hussain, J., Hussain, H., & Csuk, R. (2018). Chemical, molecular and structural studies of Boswellia species: β-boswellic aldehyde and 3-epi-11β-dihydroxy ba as precursors in biosynthesis of Boswellic acids. PLOS ONE, 13(6). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0198666

    Beghelli, D., Zallocco, L., Angeloni, C., Bistoni, O., Ronci, M., Cavallucci, C., Mazzoni, M. R., Nuccitelli, A., Catalano, C., Hrelia, S., Lucacchini, A., & Giusti, L. (2023). Dietary supplementation with Boswellia serrata, Verbascum thapsus, and Curcuma longa in show jumping horses: Effects on serum proteome, antioxidant status, and anti-inflammatory gene expression. Life, 13(3), 750. https://doi.org/10.3390/life13030750

    Grumezescu, A. M. (2016). Nutraceuticals. Elsevier/Academic Press.

    Haeggström, J. Z. (2018). Leukotriene biosynthetic enzymes as therapeutic targets. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 128(7), 2680–2690. https://doi.org/10.1172/jci97945

    Jain, S., Patil, S. G., Chinta, G., & Alluri, K. V. (2022). TamaflexTM—a novel Nutraceutical Blend improves lameness and joint functions in working horses. Veterinary Medicine and Science, 8(5), 1936–1945. https://doi.org/10.1002/vms3.894

    Liu, X., Machado, G. C., Eyles, J. P., Ravi, V., & Hunter, D. J. (2017). Dietary supplements for treating osteoarthritis: A systematic review and meta-analysis. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 52(3), 167–175. https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2016-097333

    Yu, G., Xiang, W., Zhang, T., Zeng, L., Yang, K., & Li, J. (2020). Effectiveness of boswellia and Boswellia extract for osteoarthritis patients: A systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies, 20(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12906-020-02985-6

    Zapata, A., & Fernández-Parra, R. (2023). Management of osteoarthritis and joint support using feed supplements: A scoping review of undenatured type II collagen and Boswellia serrata. Animals, 13(5), 870. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13050870

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