Indian Herbal Frankincense Helps Reduce Pain of Arthritis
Frankincense may help reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis, according to a study of 70 patients.
Osteoarthritis -- the most common form of arthritis -- commonly affects weight-bearing joints such as the knees and hips, along with the hands, wrists, feet and spine. Symptoms include pain, stiffness and limited movement.
An enriched extract of the "Indian Frankincense" herbBoswellia serratawas used in the randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study. Patients who took the herbal remedy showed significant improvement in as little as seven days. The compound caused no major adverse effects and is safe for human consumption and long-term use, according to the study authors.
The findings were published in the July 29 edition of Arthritis Research & Therapy.
The extract used in the study was enriched with 30 percent AKBA (3-O-acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid), which is believed to be the most active ingredient in the B. serrataplant.
"AKBA has anti-inflammatory properties, and we have shown thatB. serrataenriched with AKBA can be an effective treatment for osteoarthritis of the knee," study leader Siba Raychaudhuri, a faculty member of the University of California, Davis, said in a BioMed Central news release.
"The high incidence of adverse effects associated with currently available medications has created great interest in the search for an effective and safe alternative treatment," Raychaudhuri said.
B. serratahas been used for thousands of years in traditional Indian medicine. This is the first study to examine the effect of an enriched extract of the plant.
About Indian herbal Frankincense
Various species of frankincense trees grow wild throughout Western India, Northeastern Africa and Southern Saudi Arabia. It is stimulant, but seldom used now internally, though formerly was in great repute. Pliny mentions it as an antidote to hemlock. Avicenna (tenth century) recommends it for tumors, ulcers, vomiting, dysentery and fevers. In China it is used for leprosy.
Frankincense was also used in Persia and again Herodotus states “that the Arabs brought every year to Daurius as tribute 1000 talents.” (A Modern Herbal) Frankincense was important in Jewish ritual, and later became important within the rites of the Catholic Church. The Greeks and the Romans used frankincense as incense, but not as offerings. Instead it was used in everyday life - burning on the braziers that provided heat in the domicile. The resin forms droplets known as 'tears' or 'pearls', which harden into the orange-brown gum known itself as Frankincense.
The oil of Frankincense gum resin that oozes from incisions made in the bark of the trees. The oil is spicy, balsamic, green-lemon-like and peppery. It modifies the sweetness of citrus oils such as orange and bergamot. It is also the base for incense type perfumes and is important in Oriental, floral, spice and masculine scents.
Frankincense is still a main ingredient in many different types of incense. It is also popular in commercial incense mixtures - and the raw “tears” are readily available to burn directly on hot coals just as the ancients did.
Boswellia (frankincense) effectively shrinks inflamed tissue, the underlying cause of pain, by improving the blood supply to the affected area and enhancing the repair of local blood vessels damaged by proliferating inflammation. This ability is attributed to chemical compounds in the gummy extract, scientifically known as boswelic acids.
Boswellia is the purified resin made from the gum of the Boswellia serrata tree. The sticky resin or sap from the tree is also called Indian frankincense, dhup and Salai guggul. The Boswellia tree is large branching and grows in the hilly regions of India.
Experimental and clinical usage of boswellia indicates it has none of the side effects on blood pressure, heart rate of the gastric irritation and ulcers associated with many anti-inflammatory and anti arthritic drugs. Today Boswellia is used widely as incense and in makeup; however, it is also used to relieve bronchitis and laryngitis when used with steam inhalation.
It is now an approved herbal medicine in India for use against osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, soft tissue rheumatism, low back pain, myositis and fibrositis. As opposed to NSAIDS, long-term use of Boswellia does not lead to irritation or ulceration of the stomach. Research in India found that an extract of Boswellia was more beneficial, less toxic and more potent that the standard drug of choice for rheumatic disorders (Ketoprofen).