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Curcumin and Boswellia are a Powerful Combination

The traditional Indian medicine known as Ayurveda relies on two widely used herbs to support health in a variety of ways. Curcumin and boswellia are often used individually but science now shows us once again that the old adage is true—the sum is greater than the parts.  Both herbs are most known for their support of healthy inflammation. After exploring the existing research, it becomes apparent that using them together makes sense.

Boswellia Serrata, the most commonly used form of the species, is gum resin extracted from a tree native to India and Arabia. It is also sometimes referred to as Indian frankincense. Research demonstrates that boswellia is especially beneficial in supporting joint health. The sap from the tree contains key compounds known as boswellic acids. Researchers have found that boswellic acids influence leukotriene and prostaglandin synthesis.

Curcumin (Curcuma longa) is the active compound found in the spice turmeric. This spice is a common seasoning in many ethnic cuisines including India. Curcumin has been shown to support healthy inflammation in a variety of ways. A primary function of curcumin is to influence NF-κB signaling and proinflammatory cytokines. Similar to boswellia, curcumin has been shown to specifically support joint health.

“Turmeric and frankincense are two herbs with ancient medicinal usage undergoing intense scrutiny and study for their modern applications and mechanisms of action,” concluded Jeremy Appleton, ND, in a review update he wrote for the Natural Medicine Journal in 2011. He states that the active compounds in these plants “work via multiple mechanisms, rather than targeting a single enzyme or receptor.”

Working on multiple pathways together is probably the reason these two herbs in particular have been studied so extensively. Their ability to support joint health and healthy inflammation systemically is significant.

Curcumin and boswellia are now being combined in several dietary supplement formulations designed to support joint health and overall wellness. It’s a logical combination that is being applied to clinical practice by a wide variety of integrative medical professionals. It’s likely that the research will continue to support the use of this powerful combination.


Ammon HP. Boswellic acids and their role in chronic inflammatory diseases. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2016;928:291-327.

Appleton J.  Turmeric and Frankincense in inflammation: an update. Natural Medicine Journal. 2011;3(9).

Daily JW, Yang M, Park S. Efficacy of turmeric extracts and curcumin for alleviating symptoms of joint arthritis: a systematic review and  meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials.  J Med Food. 2016;19(8):717-729.

Fadus MC, Lau C, Bikhchandani J, Lynch HT. Curcumin: an age-old anti-inflammatory and anti-neoplastic agent. Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine. 2017;7(3):339-346.

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