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Not just a pretty smell

31 July 2008

by Bill Bowder

INDIAN FRANKINCENSE, the gum from the Boswellia Serrata tree, which is similar to the frankincense mentioned in the Gospel story of the wise men, is good for arthritis, say researchers in the United States.

Medical trials by researchers from the University of California, carried out on 75 men and women with osteoarthritis of the knee, found that those who took frankincense in a capsule for a week were in less pain and had greater mobility than those given a placebo.

After three months, those taking the frankincense capsules, known as 5-Loxin, found the stiffness and pain from their condition had decreased by up to two-thirds.

Although the Indian tree is different from its Middle Eastern relative, which is treasured for its superior quality as an ingredient in incense, biblical frankincense has been known also to have anti-inflammatory properties.

The study was funded by the Indian herbal extract company Laila nutraceuticals, for whom the authors worked as consultants.

The Arthritis Research Campaign’s literature offers some backing to the use of frankincense as a complimentary or alternative remedy that, it says, has promise, along with willow bark, rosehip, and devil’s claw (from a plant that grows in Namibia). It advises sufferers to check with their doctor first.

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