Managing Joints & Bones As You Age

October 01, 2020

Managing Joints & Bones As You Age

In this article:

  • What is Boswellia & its health benefits?
  • Boswellia as a holistic alternative to prescription drugs or NSAIDs
  • The impact of aging on joints & bones
  • Boswellia for the management of chronic inflammatory conditions and chronic pain

Mobility issues are much more complex than it may seem at first. Not only is difficulty in moving and walking a health issue, but it inevitably impacts the overall quality of life. Certain chronic conditions may seriously influence day-to-day activities, to the point where you can’t even imagine leaving the house without your prescription medication. If you’re interested in exploring natural methods of managing bone health as you age and maintaining the long-term health of your bones, you’ve come to the right place.

Today we’re talking about some of the unfortunate downsides of aging and what you can do about them. While you may be wise & experienced, unfortunately it is our bodies that really pay the price as we move into our 50’s, 60’s, and beyond. At the top of the list are our bones. As we age, our bones can become one of our weakest points, and if we’re not paying attention chronic conditions can develop over time no matter how much prevention or exercise you’re used to.

Luckily, persistent symptoms such as chronic pain and limitation in movement may be successfully managed with more natural remedies such as Boswellia Serrata extract. Let’s talk a bit about the beneficial effects of this ancient tree, as well as the underlying causes of chronic conditions in bone health.

The Powerful Secret of Ayurvedic Medicine: Boswellia Serrata

Boswellia Serrata, otherwise known as Indian frankincense, or olibanum, is essentially the gum resin of Boswellia Serrata trees, mainly located in India and Arabia. In case you haven’t heard about Boswellia before, you may think that this is just another new wave in the nutrition world. On the contrary, Boswellia has been around for centuries, and its beneficial effects in numerous areas haven’t gone unnoticed by the medical industry. In addition to its versatile role in Ayurvedic practices, Boswellia has also been used in perfume production and religious ceremonies, an overview of frankincense suggests.

The Benefits of Boswellia & Inflammation

Even though Boswellia can be used in the management of numerous different health conditions, there’s a common denominator for all its beneficial roles - powerful anti-inflammatory activity. According to our overview above, the power of Boswellia lies in pharmacologically active ingredients α and β boswellic acids, as well as pentacyclic triterpenic acids. These compounds have been found to inhibit pro-inflammatory processes in the body, tackling the inflammation at the root of where it starts. For this reason, Boswellia has become a popular supplement to help manage the inflammation associated with many chronic health conditions, especially those concerning our bones.

Thanks to its powerful effects on inflammation, Boswellia has been recognized as a 100% natural alternative to NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Even though prescription medication is often necessary, an over reliance on these drugs causes unwanted side effects, including drug dependency, a clinical study conducted by M. E. Godersky and colleagues found.

Women often gravitate towards NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen, in order to get some relief during a painful menstrual cycle or migraines. Period cramping can be excruciating, and for some women even debilitating. Boswellia can be an effective natural alternative to medication when it comes to managing menstrual pain and the hormonal changes that cause inflammation.

Similar to inflammation, holistic medicine is a path many choose to take when dealing with chronic back pain. Not only is Boswellia a powerful pain-relieving agent, but its use has shown no adverse effects of Boswellia when it comes to the gastric tract, which makes it perfect for chronic pain sufferers. Many people suffering from severe back pain turn to this natural remedy due to its ability to not only ease the painful symptoms but also improve blood flow in the affected area and ease inflammation.

A clinical trial conducted by Z. Liu et al. highlights the potential role of Boswellia Serrata supplementation in asthma management. Namely, boswellic acid appears to aid in managing the inflammation found in the airways of individuals suffering from asthma, while also limiting the secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Therefore, supplementing with Boswellia may aid in minimizing allergic reactions before they develop into full-blown attacks.

Another use of frankincense dating back to ancient times concerns our cognitive health. In the 11th century, a recognized physician Ibn Sina (Avicenna) described frankincense as “beneficial for dementia and amnesia”, referring to two of the most frequently encountered cognitive conditions associated with aging. Furthermore, the incensole acetate found in frankincense has been shown to exert significant sedative, anxiolytic, and antidepressant properties, hence aiding in emotional regulation. Therefore, it is safe to say that Boswellia may also play a significant role in mental health in general.

The Impact of Aging on Joint Health

Significant changes in bone structure and mass have been noted as consequences of aging, especially in postmenopausal women. One of the main issues when it comes to bone structure seems to be the decrease in significant minerals, including calcium. Due to mineral loss, bones may become more brittle, and cartilage gets depleted as a direct consequence of loss of flexibility in joints. Unfortunately, in addition to bones losing their strength and becoming more prone to breakage, substantial changes in the composition of joints may also result in inflammation, stiffness, and even deformity, leading to serious chronic conditions.


Osteoarthritis is one of the most common degenerative conditions in bones, mainly affecting the knee joint. What’s more, this progressive condition is the most frequent form of arthritis, and develops as a consequence of the depletion of protective cartilage. Once the cartilage layer on the end of the bones wears off, there is nothing to protect the joints from damage. Even though the symptoms of this condition can be managed, the damage the joints suffer can no longer be reversed, hence the importance of acting promptly in cases of osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis is also known as the “wear and tear” disease, due to the cartilage being spent and resulting in bone rubbing against bone. The most prominent symptoms of osteoarthritis include joint pain during or after movement, tenderness in joints, swelling caused by inflammation, stiffness, loss of flexibility, bone spurs, as well as an extremely unpleasant grating sensation. What causes this chronic condition? Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint a specific reason, especially when the answer is often simply aging. However, we could mention a few more risk factors, such as obesity, genetics, joint injuries, as well as persistent stress on the joints.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is yet another long-term form of arthritis, manifested through pain, swelling, and stiffness in joints, usually affecting feet, wrists, and hands. In more serious cases, these symptoms may escalate into extremely painful flare-ups or flares which are hard to predict. Even though there is no specific cure for this condition, it can also be managed with proper medication and supplementation. In more extreme cases, surgery to correct joints may be necessary.

How do you know if you have rheumatoid arthritis? Even though an in-depth consultation with your physician is necessary (and quite possibly some blood tests such as the rheumatoid factor test), there are common red flags you should be aware of including: swelling and redness around joints, limited range of motion, warmth and tenderness in the joint area, as well as reduced muscle strength and compromised reflexes. Unfortunately, the manifestations of rheumatoid arthritis are different for every individual, which requires a specific treatment in each case. Nevertheless, it is possible to better manage the onset and symptoms of arthritis with both prescription medication and plant-based remedies.

Boswellia Serrata in Joint Health

We’ve already discussed the huge impact osteoarthritis may have not only on health and mobility, but on the quality of your daily life in general. A placebo-controlled study conducted by N.Kimmatkar and colleagues included 30 individuals whose lives were impacted by this degenerative condition, dividing them into two groups of 15 participants each.

The first group received a Boswellia Serrata extract, while the other group consumed a placebo. At the end of the 8-week study, the BSE group reported notably better results, including decreased swelling and pain in the knees, as well as improved mobility in activities such as walking and climbing. What’s more, yet another study confirmed the beneficial effect of boswellic acid in osteoarthritis management, proving that even though a Boswellia supplement does have a slower onset of action that NSAIDs, its effect is long-lasting.

According to a review of dietary supplements for treating osteoarthritis, Boswellia seems to improve sensations of stiffness, while also aiding in pain reduction. In addition, Boswellia supplementation can be used in combination with physical activity, or even be an alternative to exercise for individuals with limited mobility.

As we’ve mentioned before, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory condition that may result in complete deterioration of the joint structure. A study conducted by S. Umar et al. recognizes the great antioxidant and antiarthritic potential of Boswellia Serrata, highlighting its effect on levels of inflammatory mediators. According to the mentioned study, Boswellia Serrata should not only be perceived as a powerful natural remedy when it comes to managing inflammation and pain, but also as a protective agent in the very development of arthritis.

What’s more, a study conducted by R. Kumar suggests that medication commonly used in the management of rheumatoid arthritis, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and corticosteroids, have been shown to exhibit numerous adverse effects. On the other hand, Boswellia Serrata is considered a well-tolerated, natural alternative inhibiting inflammation-inducing cytokines and aiding in inflammation management.


One of the most significant changes in the modern nutrition world is certainly turning to natural alternatives and ending the deeply-rooted overdependence on prescription drugs. Surely, therapy should never be determined without consulting with a professional (and we strongly advise you to do so - especially in cases of chronic conditions and severe pain), but knowing that natural remedies can be just as (if not even more) effective as conventional drugs feels rather liberating. Interested in more all-natural supplementation? See our full selection of natural, non-GMO remedies.

Article Summary

  • Boswellia Serrata, also known as Indian Frankincense, is from the Boswellia Serrata tree in India and an integral part of Ayurvedic practices
  • Boswellia is associated with decreased inflammation, chronic pain relief, and can be beneficial in the management of respiratory conditions
  • The structural changes associated with aging can compromize the health of joints. & bones
  • Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are two prominent aging-related joint degenerative conditions
  • Boswellia may aid in the management of inflammatory symptoms & help to increase mobility
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Article References:

  1. Ernst, E. (2008). Frankincense: systematic review. BMJ, 337(dec17 2), a2813–a2813.
  2. Kimmatkar, N., Thawani, V., Hingorani, L., & Khiyani, R. (2003). Efficacy and tolerability of Boswellia serrata extract in treatment of osteoarthritis of knee – A randomized double blind placebo controlled trial. Phytomedicine, 10(1), 3–7.
  3. Godersky, M. E., Vercammen, L. K., Ventura, A. S., Walley, A. Y., & Saitz, R. (2017). Identification of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug use disorder: A case report. Addictive behaviors, 70, 61–64.
  4. Ayurvedic plants for digestive tract health. (n.d.). Retrieved September 17, 2020, from website:
  5. Liu, Z., Liu, X., Sang, L., Liu, H., Xu, Q., & Liu, Z. (2015). Boswellic acid attenuates asthma phenotypes by downregulation of GATA3 via pSTAT6 inhibition in a murine model of asthma. International journal of clinical and experimental pathology, 8(1), 236–243.
  6. Moussaieff, A., & Mechoulam, R. (2009). Boswellia resin: from religious ceremonies to medical uses; a review of in-vitro, in-vivo and clinical trials. Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, 61(10), 1281–1293.
  7. Aging changes in the bones - muscles - joints: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. (n.d.). Retrieved from website:
  8. Osteoarthritis - Symptoms and causes. (2018). Retrieved from Mayo Clinic website:
  9. NHS Choices. (2019). Overview - Rheumatoid arthritis. Retrieved from
  10. Everything You Want to Know About Rheumatoid Arthritis. (n.d.). Retrieved from Healthline website:
  11. Thawani, V., Pimpalkhute, S., Kabra, P., Babhulkar, S., Hingorani, L., & Sontakke, S. (2007). Open, randomized, controlled clinical trial of Boswellia serrata extract as compared to valdecoxib in osteoarthritis of knee. Indian Journal of Pharmacology, 39(1), 27.
  12. Liu, X., Machado, G., Eyles, J., Ravi, V., & Hunter, D. (2017). Dietary Supplements for Treating Osteoarthritis: a Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, 25, S292–S293.
  13. Umar, S., Umar, K., Sarwar, A. H. Md. G., Khan, A., Ahmad, N., Ahmad, S., … Khan, H. A. (2014). Boswellia serrata extract attenuates inflammatory mediators and oxidative stress in collagen induced arthritis. Phytomedicine, 21(6), 847–856.
  14. Kumar, R., Singh, S., Saksena, A. K., Pal, R., Jaiswal, R., & Kumar, R. (2019). Effect of Boswellia Serrata Extract on Acute Inflammatory Parameters and Tumor Necrosis Factor-α in Complete Freund's Adjuvant-Induced Animal Model of Rheumatoid Arthritis. International journal of applied & basic medical research, 9(2), 100–106.

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