Merry Christmas! I hope you're enjoying a great day with your family celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. It's truly a day worth celebrating! While you may not be thinking about your health today, I wanted to tell you about an ancient gift the Wise Men gave to Jesus that can help you beat joint pain.
As you may remember, the Wise Men gave Jesus three kingly gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. All three of these have medical uses, but there’s one in particular that can help your joint pain.
While I hope you get plenty of gold this Christmas, it's not the best gift for fighting joint pain. Gold therapy can help reduce the inflammation in your joints, but it's not a common ingredient in supplements or even a regularly used treatment. Some studies have found it useful for treating autoimmune joint pain.
One study, which came out of Canada way back in 1988 found that both oral and injected gold could reduce the inflammation in autoimmune joint pain. In fact, it found “A significant number of patients will achieve clinical benefit from treatment with one of these two compounds.”
The problem, though, is that “both compounds have a high prevalence of side-effects and should be regarded as toxic.” Anyone who has read Nutrient Insider for long knows heavy metals can be toxic. But some can have therapeutic properties as well. So I’m not a fan of gold therapy except in very rare circumstances. I think there are less toxic and more, although the oral preparation appears to have a somewhat better safety profile than has the injectable compound.
The gift of myrrh to Jesus was more symbolic of his death, as it's traditionally used for embalming – and the fragrance helped cover the smell. This herb also helps clean and heal wounds (another symbolic use for Jesus), stop bleeding, and treat certain seasonal allergic reactions.
Myrrh has plenty of health benefits, but its ability to fight joint pain is just gaining attention in the West. In Jordan, which has an abundance of myrrh, the people use myrrh regularly for its anti-inflammatory effects.
One study, carried out at the Institute of Pharmacology at the University of Tubingen in Germany, found that myrrh extract has significant anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. The study found it worked on both localized acute and chronic inflammation in rheumatoid arthritic patients.
The study found that the myrrh extract significantly reduced swelling in hands and feet. The researchers believe it works by reducing the levels of leukotaxine (a chemical produced by injured tissue that causes inflammation). But they also noticed it helps reduce the permeability of blood capillaries, which can add to inflammation and pain in joints and surrounding tissue.
What’s more, the researchers found that taking myrrh extract orally can reduce inflammation associated with digestive disorders.
The Christmas Herb That Soothes Joint Pain
So if you're suffering from joint pain, the gift of the Magi to consider is frankincense. While the Wise Men didn't give the baby Jesus frankincense to treat pain in his joints, its ability to treat this type of pain 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 knee pain. They followed 30 people suffering from pain in their main leg joint. 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.
Surprisingly, the Arthritis Foundation even recognizes frankincense’s ability to help joint pain. They discuss the 2004 study and then talk about two studies that came out four years later. “A 2008 study in India, where Indian frankincense/boswellia is a traditional remedy, found that a supplement called 5-Loxin significantly improved joint pain and function within seven days and slowed cartilage damage after three months.” Then they give a brief statement about a 2008 British review that found Indian frankincense/boswellia both “safe and effective” for joint pain and autoimmune joint pain.
Then, in June 2011, researchers from Cardiff University in Wales examined the spice for its benefits in treating joint pain. 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.
Another study found that those applying a frankincense extract topically to the skin reported up to 70% better mobility in their knee joints. What’s more, it decreased swelling in the joint by 50-60%. It also reduced the frequency of the swelling. In fact, many of the patients said the effects took place much faster than other more conventional treatments.
Interestingly, the Chinese use both frankincense and myrrh together in clinical applications. They say using both together gives a synergistic effect for relieving pain and activating blood circulation, and especially to treat inflammation. While there aren’t a lot of studies on this synergism, one study in 2015 on rats found that the two herbs used together greatly reduced the joint and leg swelling compared to those using the placebo.
Where to Buy Frankincense
This is great news if you suffer with joint pain. Even better, there are a number of supplements on the market that may help. But there's only one 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 Support. It contains the 5-Loxin, also known as Indian frankincense (the type of frankincense used in the first study I mentioned above). Combined with glucosamine, boron, white willow, and turmeric, this frankincense may give you the gift of real pain relief. And don't forget Advanced Bionutritionals' holiday offer, which gives you $25 off your entire qualifying order.
One Final Note: It Is Healthier to Give Than to Receive
Since giving gifts is one of the highlights of this season, I wanted to encourage you to take the Christmas spirit with you throughout the year. That's because giving is actually good for you.
We know that giving helps those that receive the gifts. But a new study out of the University of Buffalo says that giving and unselfishness significantly lowers your risk of dying prematurely. The study didn't just focus on giving physical gifts. It also looked at serving others. So whether you're giving gifts to your loved ones or running errands, watching their children, or some other form of service, you're decreasing your risk of dying young.
The researchers said, "Our conclusion is that helping others reduced mortality specifically by buffering the association between stress and mortality."
The stress connection is very interesting, considering this is Christmas. One of the gifts the Wise Men gave to the baby Jesus was frankincense. This is an oil often given to anoint kings in ancient times. And it was prized more highly than gold in many cultures. That's because it has amazing healing attributes. One of those attributes is stress relief. It can calm your mind, ease anxiety, and reduce nightmares.
So if you're stressed out from all the craziness of shopping and traveling, take some time this weekend to relax and enjoy giving gifts. If you need a little help relaxing, try using some frankincense. Both giving gifts and the frankincense are great for your long-term health.
I hope you have a wonderful Christmas celebrating with loved ones. As you celebrate, remember the reason for the season from this Christmas carol:
We have come once again
To the time of the year
When we celebrate, yeah
So let our hearts fill with holiday
Let's clap and rejoice
For the birth of the Lamb is why we dance*