Osteoarthritis (OA) afflicts over 20 million people in the United States alone. It is characterized by a painful swelling of a person's joints that can restrict movement and make carrying out daily tasks difficult. The typical prescription is some form of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) to reduce the swelling in the joint. New research shows that an old herb may have a surprising palliative effect.
Research published in the open access journal Arthritis Research & Therapy has found that Indian Frankincense, Boswellia serrata, has a significant impact on patients suffering from osteoarthritis. The drug, named 5-Loxin is a concentrated extract of3-O-acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid (AKBA) derived from the herb. The chemical is believed to be the most active ingredient in the plant and, according to corresponding authorSiba Raychaudhuri, "AKBA has anti-inflammatory properties, and we have shown that B. serrata enriched with AKBA can be an effective treatment for osteoarthritis of the knee."
The research consisted of a double blind study that involved 75 individuals who suffered from OA. The participants were split into three groups, each consisting of 25 individuals. One group received 100 mg/day of the drug, a second received 250 mg/day, and the third group was given a placebo. The study lasted for 90 days, with 70 people completing it. The patients were examined at 7, 30, 60, and 90 by using standard tests to evaluate their pain and physical functionality.
According to the results of the study, "both doses of 5-Loxin conferred clinically and statistically significant improvements in pain scores and physical function scores in OA patients." Those in the group who took the high dosage reported improvements at the 7 day evaluation exam. In addition to a reduction in the perceived pain, the researchers found that the drug reduced the amount of a proteinase present in the synovial fluid of people suffering from OA; this enzyme degrades cartilage and contributes to the progression of the disease. The authors of the paper believe that this compound is "a promising alternative therapeutic strategy that may be used as a nutritional supplement against OA."
Arthritis Research & Therapy, 2008. DOI: 10.1186/ar2461