Arthritis is not a singel disease; there are actually over 100 different types of arthritis and related conditions. People who suffer from arthritis typically experience swelling, pain, stiffness, and decreased range of motion. These symptoms may come and go, may or may not progress over time, and can vary in severity. If it becomes severe, it can lead to chronic pain and disability. Some types of arthritis also affect other body parts aside from joints. These may include the heart, eyes, lungs, kidneys, and skin. Arthritis can occur in all people, but it is most common among women and occurs more often as people age. In the U.S., over 50 million adults and 300,000 children suffer from some type of arthritis.
In the study, researchers from the University of Alabama discovered that compounds within frankincense work by attaching themselves to proteins that cause inflammation and then blocking them. However, they were not able to determine why Boswellia trees produce these compounds. The researchers also noted that Boswellia is soluble with water, which makes it difficult to get it into the bloodstream.
“It’s probably to protect themselves from insect or fungal attack. It obviously works because the trees are still there,” said Will Setzer, the leader of the study and a professor at the University of Alabama, as cited by Daily Mail Online.
Also known as olibanum, frankincense is made from the resin of the Boswellia tree, which topycally grows in the dry, mountainous region of India, Africa and the Middle East. It has a woody, spicy scent and can be inhaled, absorbed through the skin, steeped into a tea, or taken as a supplement. It is used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries for its various health benefits.
More on the effect of frankincense on arthritis
Frankincense also has anti-inflammatory effects that may help reduce joint inflammation brought about by arthritis, according to an article published on the website Healthline.com. Scientists believe that it has the ability to inhibit the release of leukotrienes, which are compounds that cause inflammation. In addition, other scientists found that the strongest anti-inflammatory compounds in frankincense are terpenes and boswellic acids.
In animal and test tube studies, researchers have found that boswellic acids may provide the same beneficial effect as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which are one of the most commonly used drugs for treating arthritis. However, boswellic acids are much safer than NSAIDs, causing fewer adverse effects.
In a human study, researchers have found that frankincense extracts may help improve the symptoms of arthritis, particularly osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. In a different study, researchers gave participants 1 gram (g) per day of frankincense extract or a placebo. After eight weeks of treatment, participants who received frankincense reported reduced pain and swelling in the joints compared to those who received the placebo. In addition, they experienced a better range of movement and were able to walk further. Another study demonstrated that Boswellia helped lessen morning stiffness and reduced the need for NSAIDs in people with rheumatoid arthritis.
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