For the 1.5 million Americans living with rheumatoid arthritis, pain often shows up in the form of tender, swollen, and stiff joints. This type of pain begins in the smaller joints in the body—think fingers, hands, toes, and feet—then becomes more widespread, progressing to the wrists, ankles, knees, and beyond.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that’s triggered when your immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues in the body. It occurs in joints on both side of the body, which differentiates it from other types of arthritis. This devastating chronic disease causes the body to be in a state of uncontrolled inflammation, which damages cartilage and eventually erodes bone. Because it is a systemic disease, RA can also impact the health of your nerves, skin, lungs, and heart. Symptoms can last from six weeks to a lifetime.
Conventional medicine doesn’t offer a cure for RA. However, certain botanicals can help with this disease in a way standard that medical practices cannot. Boswellia and curcumin, two incredibly powerful botanicals, can address the underlying cause of RA and help people get back to living more comfortable lives.
The use of boswellia as medicine dates back thousands of years, but only in recent decades has this botanical’s full potential been explored. Unlike conventional drugs, which often target just one pathway, boswellia affects multiple pathways in the body. One of its most important benefits is its ability to block an inflammation pathway called 5-lipoxygenase, or 5-LOX. 5-LOX inflammation is the cause of flare-ups in diseases like RA, and it’s notoriously difficult to treat. Boswellia, however, can modulate the 5-LOX pathway to stop inflammation, rather than just masking its painful symptoms.
One of boswellia’s most powerful compounds is acetyl-11-keto-ß-boswellic acid (AKBA). When choosing a boswellia product to treat RA symptoms, the most beneficial will be standardized to deliver at least 10 percent AKBA. In a recent study, a specialized boswellia extract standardized to 10 percent AKBA was shown to be equal in strength to a conventional RA drug called methotrexate. Both the boswellia and methotrexate reduced inflammatory symptoms by 50 percent. When combined, the two treatments reduced inflammation by a whopping 63 percent.
Curcumin is another powerful botanical that can be used in the fight against RA. This popular natural medicine stops pain and inflammation, protects joint cartilage, and is proven to be as effective as prescription drugs for treating RA. Curcumin can suppress cytokines, which are the substances secreted by the immune system that contribute to inflammation. It really shines, though, because unlike prescription meds, this herbal compound doesn’t cause any unwanted side effects.
In patients with RA, researchers have compared the effects of 500 mg of a specialized, highly absorbable curcumin extract with either 50 mg of the prescription drug diclofenac sodium or a combination of curcumin and diclofenac. The group receiving the highly absorbable curcumin had the greatest reduction in joint pain and swelling and reported no adverse side effects. In comparison, 14 percent of the participants in the drug group stopped the test because of the adverse effects they experienced.
If you or someone you love is suffering from RA, boswellia and curcumin may provide the relief you’re looking for.