Frankincense, an aromatic resin obtained from Boswellia trees native to Africa, is an age-old herbal remedy that may help alleviate the pain of arthritis, according to scientists at Cardiff University, in Wales. “The search for new ways of relieving the symptoms of inflammatory arthritis and osteoarthritis is a long and difficult one,” says Dr. Emma Blain, who led the research with co-investigators Professor Vic Duance, from Cardiff University’s School of Biosciences, and Dr. Ahmed Ali, of the Compton Group. The team believes they have been able to demonstrate that treatment with an extract of Boswellia frereana- a rare frankincense species–inhibits the production of key inflammatory molecules and helps prevent the breakdown of cartilage tissue that causes the condition.
The African Somali people have long used extracts of frankincense as a traditional remedy for arthritis. “Our research achieved the use of innovative chemical extraction techniques to determine the active ingredient in frankincense,”says Ali. “We will now be able to further characterize the chemical entity and compare its success against other anti-inflammatory drugs used for treating the condition.”