If you suffer from arthritis, an ancient herbal remedy may provide you with an unexpected gift this summer – relief. At least that’s what researchers from Cardiff University in Wales now suggest.
These researchers have been examining the spice frankincense for its benefits in treating joint pain. You’ve probably heard of frankincense, as it was one of the gifts the Wise Men brought to Jesus at His birth. While the Wise Men didn’t give the baby Jesus frankincense to treat arthritis, its use in treating arthritis is legend. Middle Eastern, African, and Asian cultures have used it for centuries. Now modern science is catching up to the folklore.
Back in 2004, researchers tested a variety of frankincense from India on arthritis of the knee. They followed 30 people with knee arthritis. They divided the volunteers into two groups. They gave the first group a daily supplement of 333 mg of frankincense. And they gave the second group a placebo. The group that took the frankincense had less knee pain, better mobility, and could walk longer distances than those in the placebo group.
In this latest study (June 2011), lead researcher Dr. Emma Blain and her team wanted to find out the mechanism of frankincense’s ability. They showed that an extract of Boswellia frereana, which is a rare species of frankincense, inhibits the production of key inflammatory molecules. These inflammatory molecules cause the breakdown of the cartilage tissue, which results in arthritis pain. By stopping this process, frankincense can ease the pain.
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This is great news if you suffer with arthritis pain. Even better, there are a number of supplements on the market that may help. But there’s only one problem.
Frankincense is the sap of the Boswellia tree. Harvesters make a cut in the tree, causing the sap to drip into a tear-shaped ball. After two weeks, they harvest the ball of resin and use it in a variety of ways. The most popular use today is in perfumes, as frankincense is a wonderful aromatic. But folklore says it has a lot of different medical uses as well. These include wounds, leprosy, worms, snakebites, diarrhea, plague, scurvy, and even baldness. So where’s the problem?
It’s difficult to find supplements with the word “frankincense” in the name. You’ll have to look for Boswellia instead. Boswellia is the name of a species of tree that produces a resin. There are four species of Boswellia that produce a true frankincense resin. And some Boswellia trees produce a resin that experts do not consider frankincense. What’s more, each of these resins has various grades. So the quality and effectiveness of the Boswellia supplements may vary greatly.
With all of that said, most of the resins the Boswellia trees produce have similar anti-inflammatory properties. So no matter what brand or type of Boswellia you buy, it should help your arthritis. If it doesn’t, you may want to try another brand. If you’d like to buy a form proven to work on arthritis, then I recommend Advanced Joint Formula. It contains Boswellin, also known as Indian frankincense (the type of frankincense used in the first study I mentioned above). Combined with glucosamine, avocado-soy, ginger, and turmeric, this frankincense may give you the gift of real pain relief.
Your insider for better health,
Steve Kroening is the editor of Nutrient Insider, a twice-a-week email newsletter that brings you the latest healing breakthroughs from the world of nutrition and dietary supplements. For over 20 years, Steve has worked hand-in-hand with some of the nation's top doctors, including Drs. Robert Rowen, Frank Shallenberger, Nan Fuchs, William Campbell Douglass, and best-selling author James Balch. Steve is the author of the book Practical Guide to Home Remedies. As a health journalist, Steve's articles have appeared in countless magazines, blogs, and websites.
ScienceDaily, June 21, 2011.
Michie, Colin. "Pharmaceutical Magic from the Magi." New Scientist. Dec. 23-30, 1989. (April 27, 2011)