A little known herbal remedy–a sacred oil from India– has been shown to treat osteoarthritis and alleviate joint pain potentially as effectively as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Indian frankincense (Boswellia serrata) has been used in the Middle East for religious rituals and healing for thousands of years.
The herb is a powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic, and analgesic.
Recently, European and American medical professionals have begun to confirm the tremendous health benefits of frankincense, and are increasingly incorporating it into their own clinical practices.
Speedy relief from arthritis pain
One of the most promising applications for frankincense is the treatment of osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis and a major culprit behind knee and hip pain.
Osteoarthritis is caused by a breakdown of cartilage in the joints. This painful and often debilitating condition affects 28% of adults over age 45 and 37% of adults over age 65 in the United States.
Studies show that herbal arthritis remedies such as an enriched frankincense extract could significantly reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis within 1 week!
One trial, led by Siba Raychaudhuri of the University of California, Davis, investigated the effects of 30% AKBA (3-0-acetyl-keto-beta-boswellic acid), a concentrated version of one of the active ingredients in frankincense.
According to Raychaudhuri, “AKBA has anti-inflammatory properties, and we have shown that [frankincense] enriched with AKBA can be an effective treatment for osteoarthritis.”
An herb fit for a king
Practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine in India have used frankincense for centuries.
They call the herb Gaja-bhaksha or Sallaki Guggul, and have used the gum resin to treat everything from fevers to…respiratory diseases …diarrhea …leprosy… dysentery… ringworm…and heart conditions.
Pliny the Elder, commander of the early Roman Empire and author, naturalist, and philosopher, mentioned frankincense as an antidote for hemlock poisoning.
The ancient Egyptian elite used it in rejuvenating facial treatments.
However, its most famous historical use is as a precious gift given to kings and other nobles.
Frankincense is also used ceremonially by several religious denominations. Its sweet, earthy aroma stimulates and elevates the mind.
It’s said to be a helpful aid for:
- Improving your spiritual connection
- Centering the self
- Recovering from emotional trauma
- Overcoming stress and despair.
How frankincense targets arthritis
Researchers believe that frankincense’s medicinal properties come from boswellic acids.
Boswellic acids have proven anti-inflammatory abilities, and may be useful for the treatment of conditions such as:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
As mentioned above, boswellic acids are also very powerful against osteoarthritis.
Additionally, preliminary research indicates that boswellic acids may actually protect your cartilage from damage and deterioration before it occurs.
In June 2011, Dr. Emma Blain and Professor Vic Duance of Cardiff University, with Dr. Ahmed Ali of the Compton Group, spoke to the media about the benefits of frankincense for alleviating arthritis pain.
The team believes that an extract of a rare species of frankincense–Boswellia frereana–blocks the generation of molecules that degenerate and inflame cartilage tissue.
Their work so far has focused on “whether and how these extracts can help relieve the inflammation that causes the pain.”
End inflammation without side effects
Boswellic acid appears to reduce inflammation in a way similar to mainstream non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which make up approximately half of all drugs used to treat pain.
Unfortunately, long-term use of NSAIDs–as for a chronic condition like arthritis–often results in irritation and even ulceration of the stomach.
Dr. Raychaudhuri noted, “The high incidence of adverse effects associated with currently available medications has created great interest in the search for effective herbal arthritis remedies and safe alternative treatment.”
It seems frankincense is a wonderful candidate for that position! Considering the negative side effects associated with mainstream osteoarthritis treatments, it becomes even more appealing.
A recent study in India found that compared to the common osteoarthritis drug Ketoprophan, frankincense is:
- Less toxic
- More beneficial
- More potent
How to use frankincense
Natural health experts recommend taking a 400mg dose standardized to contain 37.5% boswellic acids, saying that this dose can be taken up to 3 times daily.
And even though this herb has shown the potential to reduce pain in as little as a week, results may not always be immediate.
Therefore, most practitioners advise using frankincense consistently for at least 8 weeks before deciding whether or not it’s working for you.
Side effects at the 400mg dose are rare, but in some instances, individuals have had mild allergic reactions or some gastrointestinal distress.
Experts advise that pregnant woman should not take frankincense and its safety for young children, nursing women, and those with severe liver or kidney disease is unknown at this time.
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