curcumin and boswellia as good as and safer than NSAID for osteoarthitis

90% of people over 40 have some degree of osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is painful and limits your ability to do the activities you need and want to do. For most people, the first answer they are offered is non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). But NSAIDs have potentially serious side effects ranging from ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding to bleeding into the brain and cardiovascular disease. What most people aren’t told is that there are several herbs that work better.

Several studies have shown that curcumin, the active ingredient in the herb turmeric, is as good or better than NSADs while having the important advantage of being safer. The Ayurvedic anti-inflammatory herb Boswellia has also been shown to beat a placebo for osteoarthritis.

So, in the quest for safer treatments for osteoarthritis, researchers conducted a systematic review of 14 studies and a meta-analysis of 11 studies that compared curcumin and boswellia to placebo and NSAIDs. The people in the studies all suffered from osteoarthritis in their knees. All the studies were published between 2003 and 2018, and all were short term, ranging from 4-12 weeks.

Compared to placebo, curcumin was significantly better for relieving pain and improving function. Compared to NSAIDs, curcumin was as effective; however, significantly fewer people had to withdraw from the studies because of adverse events in the curcumin group, and gastrointestinal adverse events were significantly lower in the curcumin group.

Compared to placebo, Boswellia was also significantly better for pain relief and improved function.

When curcumin or turmeric were combined with Boswellia, they decreased pain with movement significantly better than placebo, and pain relief was as good as NSAIDs.

This study suggests that curcumin and Boswellia are better than placebo and as good as NSAIDs—but safer—for the short term relief of osteoarthritis.


Semin Arthritis Rheum 2018; 48(3):416-429


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For much more on treating osteoarthirits naturally, see our book The Family Naturopathic Encyclopedia.

For comprehensive help with osteoarthritis, make an appointment to see Linda Woolven now.


The Natural Path
 is intended for educational purposes only and is in no way intended for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. For health problems, consult a qualified health practitioner for a comprehensive program.

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