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Effect of Boswellia on Low Back Pain and Sciatica
The gummy resin of the boswellia tree has a long history of use in Indian herbal medicine as a treatment for arthritis among other conditions. Low back pain and/or sciatica that results from osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis may benefit from using boswellia as a treatment.
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Research Evidence on Boswellia
The studies cited below were conducted to test the use of boswellia on rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. The effectiveness of boswellia on general low back pain and/or sciatica are not associated with rheumatoid arthritis and/or osteoarthritis has not been studied and can only be speculated.
According to a review of unpublished studies, preliminary double-blind trials have found boswellia effective in relieving the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis . 1 Two placebo-controlled studies, involving a total of 81 people with rheumatoid arthritis, reportedly found significant reductions in swelling and pain over the course of 3 months. In addition, a comparative study of 60 people over 6 months found that boswellia extract produced symptomatic benefits comparable to oral gold therapy. However, this review was rather sketchy on details.
A more recent double-blind, placebo-controlled study that enrolled 78 people with rheumatoid arthritis found no benefit. 2 However, about half of the patients dropped out, which seriously diminishes the significance of the results. Asthma
In a double-blind study of 30 people with osteoarthritis of the knee, researchers compared boswellia against placebo. 4 Participants received either boswellia or placebo for 8 weeks and were then switched over to the opposite treatment for an additional 8 weeks. The results showed significantly greater improvement in knee pain, knee mobility, and walking distance with boswellia compared to placebo.
In clinical trials of pharmaceutical grade standardized boswellia extract, no serious side effects have been reported. Crude herb preparations, however, may not be as safe as the specially manufactured extract. Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or individuals with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established.
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