Clinical trial of Boswellia serrata in knee osteoarthritis

Clinical trial of Boswellia serrata in knee osteoarthritis

Author -  Vicki Martin, Nutritionist and Naturopath

Naturopath Vicki Martin summarises a clinical trial that compared Boswellia ( a natural herbal remedy for joint pain) with a pharmaceutical arthritis medication

If you suffer from the pain, inflammation and stiffness of arthritis, you’ve probably heard of natural remedies like Glucosamine and Chondroitin. But you may not have heard Boswellia serrata – a herb that clinical trials have shown to be successful with knee osteoarthritis.

What is Boswellia

Boswellia serrata – also known as Indian frankincense – is a natural remedy that Ayurvedic (traditional Indian) healers have used for centuries to relieve sore, stiff joints. Boswellia extract is made from the fragrant resin of the Boswellia tree. Now science is discovering that there’s a good reason it’s been used for so many years in India to help people with arthritis.

How the Boswellia trial worked 

Interested in seeing how Boswellia stacked up against a common pharmaceutical arthritis drug, researchers recruited people who suffered from knee osteoarthritis. They divided participants into two groups – giving one group Valdecoxib (the arthritis medication), and the other Boswellia.

Researchers assessed the patients every month from the start of the trial, until one month after medication was stopped. Assessments looked at pain levels, stiffness and how difficult participants found it to carry out their daily activities. They also took x-rays of the affected knee joint at the beginning of the trial, and after 6 months.

The results: Boswellia works slower, but lasts longer

When the trial was over, researchers found that people taking Boswellia showed significant improvement in each of the assessed dimensions within two months. They also found that this effect lasted for at least a month after participants stopped taking the herb.

By contrast, people taking Valdecoxib seemed to improve after only a month of taking the drug. On the other hand, the improvements only lasted as long as they kept taking the medication – disappearing as soon as participants came off it.

What that means if you have osteoarthritis

These results are exciting if you have osteoarthritis and are looking for a natural remedy to help with the symptoms. They suggest that a herbal supplement with Boswellia may help to relieve your pain and inflammation, and improve your mobility. And while they suggest that a Boswellia supplement might act more slowly than a pharmaceutical drug would, its effects can also last longer.

Indian Journal of Pharmacology. 2007; 39(1) 27-29