Ru Xiang - Boswellia carterli

Professional Data
 Pin Yin
Ru Xiang
 Introduction Back to Top
Olibanum is the resin from the bark of Boswellia carterli Birdw and other species in the same genus, family Burseraceae.

 Western medical Back to Top
ru xiang is indicated in the treatment of pain of soft tissues, hyperosteogeny and ulcer, etc..

 Eastern medical Back to Top
  • Pattern: Activates Blood, resolves stagnant Blood, moves qi, alleviates pain, disperses swelling and promotes the growth of muscles.
  • Properties: Pungent, bitter, warm.
  • Channels entered: Heart, Liver and Spleen.
 Chemical constituents Back to Top
ru xiang contains resin, gum and volatie oil, etc..

 Pharmacological actions Back to Top
Miscellaneous effects

Water decoction-alcohol extract of ru xiang could lower whole blood viscosity, improve the erythrocyte deformability, increase RBC electrophoresis rate, inhibit platelet aggregation and lower fibrinogen. 10 minutes perfusion to isolated rat heart could lower the blood flow volume in coronary vessels, lower the contraction amplitude of cardiac muscles and decrease the heart rate. It could inhibit the respiratory center in mice under cerebral ischemic and anoxic state. ru xiang was effective on experiment TB in mice. It could lower serum T4, increase T3, and lower plasma camp in mice.

Anti-tumor effect

1. Cytostatic and apoptosis-inducing activity of boswellic acids toward malignant cell lines in vitro.

Boswellic acids from frankincense were indentified as the active compounds which inhibit leukotriene biosynthesis, 5-lipoxygenase and exert antiproliferative activity toward a variety of malignant cells. Because of the relevance for the clinical application, we tested the ethanolic extract of Boswellia serrata gum resin containing a defined amount of boswellic acids for its cytotoxic, cytostatic and apoptotic activity on five leukemia (HL-60, K 562, U937, MOLT-4, THP-1) and two brain tumor (LN-18, LN-229) cell lines by WST-1 assay and flow cytometry. The Boswellia serrata extract induced dose-dependent antiproliferative effects on all human malignant cells tested with GI50 values (extract concentration producing 50% cell growth inhibition) between 57.0 and 124.1 micrograms/ml. In three haematological cell lines (K562, U937, MOLT-4) the effect of total extract expressed in GI50 was 2.8-, 3.3- and 2.3-times more potent (p < 0.05) than pure 3-O-acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid (AKBA). Morphological changes after 24-27 hours and the detection of apoptotic cells by AnnexinV-binding and/or by the detection of propidium iodide-labelled DNA with flow cytometry, confirmed the apoptotic cell death. The results of this study suggest the effectiveness of Boswellia serrata extract with defined content of boswellic acids.

--Hostanska K, Daum G, Saller R. Anticancer Res. 2002 Sep-Oct;22(5):2853-62.

2. Experimental study on Jurkat cell apoptosis induced by Boswellia carterii Birdw extractive

OBJECTIVE: To study the influence of Boswellia carterii Birdw(BCB) extractive of different concentrations on human Jurkat cell apoptosis at different time points. METHODS: Agarose gel electrophoresis, transmission electron microscope(TEM) and flow cytometry(FCM) were used for observing DNA ladders, morphology of Jurkat cells and cell cycle, respectively. RESULTS: BCB induced apoptosis of Jurkat cells and typical DNA ladders; TEM demonstrated the presence of apoptosis Jurkat cells, condensation of cytoplasm, numerous vaculoes in cytoplasm, compaction of the nuclear chromatin and formation of apoptosis dody. The sub-G1 peak was detected by cell cycle analysis. It revealed that G1 phage cells increased and S phage cells decreased. CONCLUSION: The data indicate that BCB extractive induces time- and concentration-dependent apoptosis in Jurkat cell line.

--Liu X, Qi ZH. Hunan Yi Ke Da Xue Xue Bao. 2000 Jun 28;25(3):241-4.

 Clinical Studies Back to Top
Pain of soft tissues

Zhi Tong San (ru xiang, mo yao, hong hua, bai zhi, sheng da huang, chi shao, zhi zi, 20g each; di long 15g; tao ren, quan xie 10g each) was mixed with distilled spirit and flour to apply to affect areas. 108 cases of soft tissues were treated and the effective rate was 97%.


ru xiang, mo yao, shan zhi, bai zhi, hei da dou, 60g each; hai tong pi 18g; bai jie zi 30g. Modify the formula according accompanied symptoms. The drugs were mixed with water and applied to affected areas. 32 out of 36 treated cases were effective.


ru xiang, mo yao, 10g each; dan shen, chuan xiong, yan hu suo, 15g each. Modify the formula according to accompanied symptoms. 80 cases of peptic ulcer were treated, and 67 were clinically cured, 13 improved.

 References Back to Top

Except those noted, all references come from Weng Weiliang, et al., Clinical Chinese materia medica, Henan Science & Technology Press, 1998