Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Motrin, Mobic, and Naproxen used to be one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in medicine. They were used for arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. However, research showed they were causing numerous deaths from side effects: 64,000 deaths per year, most of which were from gastrointestinal bleeds from ulcers. These drugs quelled inflammation by inhibiting the COX-2 enzymes, but they also blocked COX-1 enzymes, which protected the stomach and intestinal linings. This problem was thought to be solved when more specific NSAIDs were developed which blocked only the COX-2 pathways. As with all “miracle drugs” which work exclusively at specific receptor sites, as opposed to natural medicines which work more broadly at multiple receptor sites and pathways, these new COX-2 inhibitors caused fatal side effects: increased heart attacks. The problem with many of our newer pharmaceuticals is that they are too specific and too strong. Their action is exclusive for one receptor site, enzyme, or metabolic pathway; and their binding ability to that site is too powerful: totally shutting down the enzyme system or pathway. Enzyme systems in our bodies need tweaked and modulated, never eradicated. That is why drugs come and go, but the same natural herbal medicines continue to be used in various cultures century after century. For thousands of years, folk medicine practitioners have used the herb Boswellia to treat a wide range of inflammatory conditions. The herbal extract is derived from gum resin secreted by the boswellia tree found in India, Africa, China, and the Middle East. Boswellia decreases inflammation by partially blocking the 5-LOX enzyme and the HLE enzyme, as well as other inflammatory enzymes. A pre-clinical animal study demonstrated boswellia’s benefits in managing osteoarthritis. Dogs suffering from osteoarthritis received boswellia extract once daily for 6 weeks. After only 2 weeks of therapy, 71% of the animals showed significant improvements. In a human study, boswellia was similarly shown to be effective. Thirty subjects with osteoarthritis of the knee took part in a 16-week placebo-controlled trial. All of those who took boswellia reported less pain and swelling, increased knee flexion, and the ability to walk a greater distance. Studies indicated that boswellia’s anti-inflammatory ability and its ability to modulate the immune system might help improve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune conditions. Boswellia is also showing promise for people that suffer from Ulcerative Colitis and Chron’s disease. In a clinical trial of 30 Ulcerative Colitis patients, 20 patients took boswellia extract 3 times a day for 6 weeks, while 10 patients in the control group took the standard drug for Ulcerative Colitis: sulfasalazine. A remarkable 90% of those treated with boswellia showed improvement, compared to only 60% of the drug treatment group. Even more impressive was that 70% of the boswellia treated patients went into disease remission, compared to 40% of those taking sulfasalazine. Boswellia is also showing promise in the prevention of several forms of cancer and in the treatment of Asthma. Boswellia ranks shoulder-to-shoulder with Turmeric as a natural anti-inflammatory wonder.
As a pharmacist, I have specialized in nutritional supplements for over twenty years. I have worked as a pharmacist for about thirty years and have owned a health food store for over twenty years. I first became interested in vitamins as a child, but it wasn’t till my early twenties that I started using herbs. I was literally amazed how effective herbal medicine can be: sometimes amazed; sometimes disappointed. It takes a lot of trial and error to find what works well and what doesn’t. There are good products and there are fads. There are products that have stood the test of time and others that are here today and gone tomorrow. There is a lot of hype and exaggeration in the natural products industry. People will do anything to sell something and make money. The drug companies are no different. On this website I have tried to list what I feel are some of the best natural products on the market. It is by no mean exhaustive. I have chosen these because they have proven themselves to me either by personal experience, customer feedback, or because of the solid science behind their formulas and the reputation of the companies that manufacture them.