Commonly known as Indian frankincense, Boswellia serrata has a long history in Ayurvedic medicine, currently used worldwide. Numerous research studies found Boswellia to be helpful for degenerative joint diseases because it promotes the regeneration of tissue by improving the circulation in the affected areas. Other studies concluded that Indian frankincense has similar action to NSAIDs, and is therefore useful for reducing the swelling and improving the mobility of the joints in inflammatory’ arthritis.
Another Ayurvedic herb widely used in Indian cuisine as a spice, turmeric is another great herb to manage arthritis, and perhaps even more researched than Boswellia. Curcumin, the pigment that gives turmeric its yellow colour, is also the spice’s active ingredient. Clinical studies have found that turmeric is as effective as steroid drugs for decreasing inflammation, and also has similar efficacy to NSAIDs. It is also a powerful anti-oxidant, supporting the immune system and acting as an anti-aging herb.
One placebo-controlled study published in June 2010 in Panminerva Medica found that the participants who received turmeric extracts experienced an almost 60 per cent decrease in joint stiffness and pain, significant increase in mobility, and low levels of inflammatory7 markers, compared with those who took the placebo. These researchers also noted improved emotional wellbeing and reduced need for painkillers in the group treated with this herb.
Scientifically known as Zingiber officinale, ginger is a potent anti-inflammatory7 herb, equally or even more effective than NSAIDs, according to scientific studies. Ginger helps relax the muscles, decreases pain and stiffness, and also promotes the repair of the joints. It is useful for both osteoarthritis and inflammatory’ arthritis. Ginger can be used as a food and can also be applied locally to the painful joint.
One study published in a 2006 issue of Indian Journal of Rheumatology recommends the use of ginger for patients w’ho cannot tolerate conventional drugs, as it was found to be as effective, yet safer, than the conventional drug, indomethacin.
Other medicinal herbs are supported by hundreds of years of use and numerous scientific studies. White willow and devil’s claw- are said to be especially useful for rheumatoid arthritis, while licorice, feverfew, cayenne and yucca can be used for both osteoarthritis and inflammatory7 joint diseases.