Boswellia Serrata, also known as Frankincense, is one of my favorite herbs for treating osteoarthritis and autoimmune arthritis.  Another herb I use frequently is Turmeric but here I am focusing on Boswellia because it is an unsung hero while turmeric has been getting a lot of press lately.

Boswellia Reduces Pain and Inflammation

Multiple studies have shown that Boswellia reduces pain and inflammation equally or better than non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and naproxen for people with osteoarthritis and autoimmune arthritis.  NSAIDs work well at reducing inflammation and pain but they have many side effects including stress on kidneys and reduction of the protective lining of the stomach which can lead to gastritis and ulcers. 

Boswellia Serrata, Third Stone Integrated Health CenterBoswellia alone often takes one or two weeks to reach full effectiveness.  I often use it in combination with some other herbs and nutrients like bromelain and turmeric which help it to take effect more quickly and allow for intermittent use. I do not recommend taking this herb without consulting a physician, especially if you are taking other medications. 

The “side-effects” of Boswellia include lowering cholesterol, improving asthma symptoms, and some anti-cancer effects. 

Positive ‘side-effects’ of Boswellia

The anti-cancer effects of Boswellia are well-documented and include prevention of cancer cell replication as well as prevention of blood-vessel formation that is triggered by signals that cancerous tumors produce. I expect to see a drug form of boswellic acid coming out in the future.

Boswellia has been shown to reduce cholesterol but I do not tend to use it as a first-line treatment for elevated cholesterol because I have things that work much better and faster for lowing cholesterol.  However, if someone has osteoarthritis and elevated cholesterol or other risk factors for cardiovascular disease, I appreciate this secondary effect.

Dr. Procyk and I always look for underlying factors that contribute to inflammation like food intolerances, sleep disturbances, excessive intake of sugar or immune dysfunction when treating arthritis because we believe in treating underlying causes instead of just treating symptoms.  Often, when we modify these factors, people no longer require medication for their arthritis.  Boswellia is a powerful herb to use when we do not get the full resolution of symptoms with these interventions. 

Click here for a full overview of the research on Boswelia.


*Image courtesy of Keystone Foundation