A herb known as "Indian Frankincense" can reduce the symptoms of arthritis, US researchers have suggested.
Extracts from Boswellia serrata, a similar species to the variety famous for its role in the Christian nativity, were tested on dozens of patients. Those who received it reported better movement and less pain and stiffness.
The herb has been used for thousands of years in Indian Ayurvedic medicine, reports the journal Arthritis Research and Therapy.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of the condition, and normally affects the weight bearing joints such as hands, wrists, feet and spine. Current treatments carry a great many adverse effects, and scientists have been hunting for an alternative. The investigation into the properties of Boswellia serrata was led by Dr Siba Raychaudhuri at the University of California, Davis.
Eventually they tested an extract of the plant enriched with the chemical - AKBA - thought to be its active ingredient. Some of the 70 patients with severe arthritis in their knees recruited into the trial were given a low-dose capsule, some a higher dose capsule, and the remainder were given a dummy pill with no active ingredients.
In as little as seven days, patients taking the frankincense drug reported improvements in their pain and stiffness levels compared with the placebo group, and these continued until the 90-day mark, when the study ended.
Source - BBC