Hey, Wise Man, got anything for my aching back?


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Around the time that the Magi, according to the traditional Christmas story, made it one of their gifts to Jesus, frankincense was being used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine. Now, 2,008 years later, medical science has proved that frankincense, an aromatic resin used in incense and perfumes, provides relief to arthritis sufferers.

In a study in the journal Arthritis Research & Therapy, researchers found that an enriched extract of Indian frankincense, known as 5-Loxin, a product developed by Laila Nutraceuticals, not only reduces the pain of arthritis, but does it quickly.


Researcher Siba Raychaudhuri, professor at UC Davis, recruited 75 patients who had the pain of arthritis in their knees, hips, hands, wrists, feet or spines. One group of 25 people got a placebo. Two other groups of 25 each got the supplement, one taking 100 mg daily for three months, and the other taking 250 mg daily for three months. Both groups that took the supplements reported they could move with less stiffness and pain, and the group that took the higher dose began feeling relief in about a week.

Tests of the fluid within their affected joints showed lower levels of enzymes linked to arthritis, and the people taking the pills had no ill side effects. But because the study size was small, some scientists urge caution and more study, according to a BBC news report.

But if future studies hold up, the nations 21 million arthritis suffers could find frankincense to be worth its weight in gold.

-- Susan Brink

Varieties of frankincense. Photo by Anne Cusack, Los Angeles Times