[Frankincense, Boswellia, Boswellin, Salai Guggal] Boswellia serrata

Origin: Gum resin from the bark of the Boswellia tree found in India.

Claims: Reduces inflammation and treats rheumatoid arthritis (RA), osteoarthritis (OA) and bursitis symptoms. It may also be used to treat symptoms of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

What we know: Boswellic acids – the active components – may have strong anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. They may also help prevent cartilage loss and inhibit the autoimmune process, making Indian frankincense/boswellia a potential therapy for RA in addition to OA.

Studies: In a 2004 study, Indian frankincense/boswellia was tested as a treatment for knee OA. Researchers recruited 30 people with knee OA and gave half the group a daily supplement containing 333 mg of Indian frankincense/boswellia; others got placebo. People who took Indian frankincense/boswellia reported less knee pain, better mobility and an ability to walk longer distances than those taking placebo.

A 2008 study in India, where Indian frankincense/boswellia is a traditional remedy, found that a supplement called 5-Loxin significantly improved OA pain and function within seven days and slowed cartilage damage after 3 months.

A 2008 British review found Indian frankincense/boswellia safe and effective for both OA and RA, though results of RA trials have been mixed.

Dosage: Capsule or tablet; typically 300 mg to 400 mg three times per day. Look for products with 60-percent boswellic acids, the active ingredient.