Boswellia and osteoarthritis



by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR

Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.

Click here: Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit


Boswellia (Boswellia serrata) is a popular herb.Boswellia, also known as boswellin or "Indian frankincense," comes from the Boswellia serrata tree that grows in the hills of India.

Traditional Indian healers have taken advantage of the anti-inflammatory properties of the bark of the tree's resin, called salai guggal. Preparations made from an extract of this resin are used to reduce inflammation associated with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Unlike conventional NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), boswellia doesn't seem to cause stomach irritation.

Research has identified active anti-inflammatory ingredients in this herb, which are commonly referred to as boswellic acids. In animal studies, these acids have been shown to reduce inflammation in a variety of ways. Boswella inhibits inflammation by blocking the synthesis of leukotrienes. Leukotrienes cause inflammation by promoting free radical damage, cell adhesion, and the migration of inflammatory cells to an injured area.

Boswellia may help to:

•Ease osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. Boswellia can be taken internally as well as topically to affected joints to relieve inflammation. This may decrease morning stiffness and increase joint mobility. In a study of 175 patients with rheumatic disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, 122 participants experienced reduced stiffness and inflammation two to four weeks after starting on a boswellia regimen.

•Decreased back pain. Boswellia's anti-inflammatory properties can help to reduce aching and stiffness, especially when associated with low back pain. Boswellia is best taken orally for this purpose, but creams appear to be soothing as well.


For arthritis and most other ailments: Take 210 to 240 mg of boswellic acids three times a day.

For back pain and other areas of aching or stiffness: Take 150 mgs boswellic acid three times a day. Or rub a small amount of cream into the area where the pain is concentrated every four to six hours.

One should look for products standardized to 60% boswellic acids.

There are no known drug or nutritional interactions with this herb. Avoid taking boswellia for longer than eight to 12 weeks. Consult your doctor before taking boswellia if you're pregnant or you have an immune disorder.



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