Boswellia serrata has been used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine for centuries, perhaps millennia by some accounts.1 While boswellia has had many benefits attributed to it in that time, it is boswellia's use as an anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic, and analgesic that have garnered the most attention in western medicine. After previous studies had found boswellia more effective than a placebo at reducing arthritic knee pain, the Indian government funded research on boswellia in a comparison study against a type of NSAID (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug) know as a selective Cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2) inhibitor.2 Selective COX-2 inhibitors are the latest class of anti-inflammatory drugs that have been found to be highly effective, but unfortunately many of which present serious cardiac risk. The results of that study were made public in the February 2007 issue of the Indian Journal of Pharmacology.3
The researchers chose to conduct a randomized, prospective, open-label, comparative study of the efficacy, safety and tolerability of Boswellia serrata extract compared with valdecoxib (Bextra™) in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee. The six-month study involved 66 patients between the ages of 40 and 70 who received either 10mg valdecoxib taken once daily or 333 mg of Boswellia serrata extract (containing 40% boswellic acids) taken three times daily. The subjects' pain levels were assessed with the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis index (WOMAC) scale. A base line WOMAC score was taken at the start, and at monthly intervals, concluding with a final WOMAC occurring one month after the study concluded.
The test subjects who received the valdecoxib had statistically significant improvement after one month, but the effects dissipated quickly, within a day or two, of the subject stopping the daily use of the drug. Those in the group that received the boswellia did not show statistically significant improvement until the second month. However, the researchers found that while boswellia was slower to act, it had a longer lasting effect. One month after the test had ended and the subjects had stopped taking the boswellia, those given the boswellia still showed the full benefit of the supplement. The researchers stated in conclusion that "in terms of safety, efficacy and duration of action, the present study shows that [Boswellia serrata extract] was superior to valdecoxib, except for the slower onset of action."
Valdecoxib, marketed in the US as Bextra, was chosen for this study because it was the newest, most effective drug on the market and was also widely prescribed for osteoarthritis at the time this study was started, in 2003. Valdecoxib was removed from the US market in 2005 by Pfizer acting on a recommendation from the FDA which found an increased risk of heart attack and stroke among the drug's users. The Indian government has subsequently banned the drug. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2006 found that all the drugs in this class including, Vioxx, which was removed from the US market in 2004, and Celebrex, which is currently available on the US market, may present "serious risks" to the heart and kidneys.4 No serious adverse events occurred with either Boswellia or valdecoxib during this sixth month trial.
Our new Arthrogesic™ contains Boswellia rich in Boswellic acid, a natural anti-inflammatory compound. Learn more about the additional potential benefits of using Arthrogesic™ with our other joint support product viz: Arthroace Forte™.
1. Selected medicinal Plants of India -A Monograph of identity, safety and clinical usage. Compiled by Swami Prakashanand Ayurved Research Centre (SPARC) for Chemixil. Tata Press: India; 1992. p. 65-6.
2. Kimmatkar N, Thawani V, Hingorani L, Khiyani R. Efficacy and tolerability of Boswellia serrata extract in treatment of Osteoarthritis of knee- a randomized, double blind, placebo controlled trial. Phytomedicine 2003;10:3-7.
3. Sontakke S, Thawani V, Pimpalkhute S, Kabra P, Babhulkar S, Hingorani L. Open, randomized, controlled clinical trial of Boswellia serrata extract as compared to valdecoxib in osteoarthritis of knee. Indian J Pharmacol 2007;39:27-29.
4. Zhang, J., E. L. Ding, et al. (2006). "Adverse effects of cyclooxygenase 2 inhibitors on renal and arrhythmia events: meta-analysis of randomized trials." Jama 296(13): 1619-32.