rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis

The herbal breakthrough easing pain and reversing arthritis
By Kerry Bone

When I first wrote about Boswellia almost 10 years ago, I focused on its role in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Of course, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition and is quite different from the more common form of the disease, osteoarthritis (OA). And Boswellia appeared to act on a type of inflammation specific to RA, so the thinking at the time was that this herb was only good for this form of arthritis. But over the past few years, researchers have discovered that Boswellia might just work for osteoarthritis after all.

In fact, several studies have shown that Boswellia not only relieves arthritis symptoms, but might actually change the course of OA, slowing its progression and possibly even reversing this chronic disease.

As effective as arthritis drugs­and a whole lot safer

The first trial, published in 2003, was a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study to assess the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of Boswellia extract in 30 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee. For eight weeks, 15 patients took 1,000 milligrams of Boswellia extract (containing 40 percent of the active compounds, called boswellic acids) while the other 15 took a placebo. Then the groups switched treatments for another eight weeks. While they were taking the Boswellia, all the patients reported a significant decrease in knee pain, increased knee flexibility, and increased walking distance.1 Except for minor gastrointestinal upset, there weren’t any side effects associated with the Boswellia.

But what’s most striking about this study trial is the substantial clinical benefit the researchers observed. For example, in the first eight-week treatment period, the pain index in the Boswellia group fell from 2.7 to 0.26, the loss of movement index was reduced from 2.8 to 0.30, and the swelling index went from 1.1 to zero.

The second trial was a randomized study that compared Boswellia with the drug valdecoxib, a selective COX-2 inhibitor.2 The patients received either 1,000 milligrams per day of Boswellia extract (again containing 40 percent boswellic acids) or 10 milligrams of valdecoxib per day for six months. Boswellia took longer to kick in than the drug, but by the end of the second month, patients in both groups reported comparable relief. And they continued to have equal effects for the remainder of the trial.2

But what surprised the researchers was what happened one month after the patients discontinued both treatments. The patients who had been taking the drug were back to square one in terms of their arthritis pain. But even a full month after they stopped taking their treatment, the patients in the Boswellia group were still reporting major symptom and pain relief. In other words, the drug was just masking the symptoms, and while it worked faster than the Boswellia, it wore off just as quickly. The Boswellia was slower to take effect, but those effects were long-lasting, even after the patients stopped taking it. Which suggests that the Boswellia had actually improved the arthritis itself.

The third study was published just last year.3 In this trial, 75 patients with knee OA received either Boswellia extract (containing 100 or 250 mg of selected boswellic acids/day) or placebo for 90 days. The Boswellia offered statistically significant improvement in both pain and physical functioning. And the higher the dose, the faster it worked­in some cases in as little as seven days.

But apart from the fact that Boswellia was effective for OA, this trial provided two other useful pieces of information. First, it showed significant reductions in a substance called matrix metalloproteinase-3, which breaks down cartilage, making OA worse. Again, this suggests that Boswellia could slow down the progression of OA.

Second, this study showed that taking a larger amount of Boswellia early on­a loading dose­offers faster results. I often do this by starting my patients on double the long-term dose for a few weeks (the long term dose, as per the studies, should be about 1,000 mg of extract containing at least 400 mg of boswellic acids). Then, once their symptoms have started to improve, they can taper back to that long-term maintenance dose.

One other way to make Boswellia work even better is to take it with meals, especially a main meal that contains a reasonable amount of (healthy) fat. According to one study, dietary fat appears to make the boswellic acids four times more bioavailable than they are when Boswellia supplements are taken on their own.4 KB

How censorship affects your health

There are literally tens of thousands of examples. Just look at the labels of any of the supplements you may pick up in your local natural food store. Do any of them tell you in any detail what scientific research has found they can do? Can you read about the double-blind, placebo controlled research proving that inexpensive zinc acetate lozenges reduce the severity and duration of the common cold? Does the label on the niacinamide supplement tell you about its proven ability­from exceptionally careful 1940s research­to control the symptoms of degenerative arthritis? Does the label on the bottle of PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid) tell you that it can significantly reduce the severity of several auto-immune diseases­facts reported in the Physician’s Desk Reference (PDR) for years?

Nope. Not a word about any of these benefits on the packaging or advertising for any of these­or countless other­nutritional supplements.

Instead, we’re inundated with advertising about patent medications, which cost a whole lot more, but­at best­just suppress symptoms. If supplement companies could do this kind of advertising­using the tens of thousands of true scientific research findings about how nutrients can actually cure countless symptoms­the cost of health care would drop significantly in a very short time.

Why? Because if the public could easily read or hear the scientifically verified truth about all the things that safe, un-patentable (and therefore much less expensive) natural supplements can do for health, sales of supplements would soar, and sales of much more expensive patent medications would drop significantly­ right along with the cost of
health care!

The good news is, the American Association for Health Freedom (AAHF) has a remedy for this situation. It’s working to get a new bill, called the Free Speech in Science Act, passed in Congress. This act would prevent the FDA from censoring scientific information about the health benefits of foods (such as cherries­see last month’s issue for more on that) and all those supplements in your natural food store.

Please contact your members of Congress to express your support for the bill by going to the AAHF website www.healthfreedom.net or by calling (202)224-3121 and asking to be connected to your U.S. Representative (or 202-225-3121 to be connected to your state Senator). It’s incredibly easy to do, so please do it as often as you can­the more support the bill gets, the more likely it is to pass! JVW


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