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Bluebird Botanicals Comprehensive Review June 2022

Bluebird Botanicals is a brand that aims to promote inclusivity in the cannabidiol (CBD) market. The brand tries to serve all types of CBD users, from new users to more experienced CBD buyers.

This value is reflected on Bluebird Botanicals’ website. The website is rich in relevant information about CBD and it defines CBD terms that may be unfamiliar to new users.

Whether you are a new or an experienced CBD user, Bluebird Botanicals has something for you. The brand offers various CBD products, including hemp oil, capsules, isolates, and creams.

The brand offers a wide range of full-spectrum CBD and CBD isolates available inside and outside the US. Bluebird Botanicals also supports several non-profit organizations and programs.

Bluebird Botanicals publishes third-party lab results on its website. The Louisville, Colorado -based brand taps various laboratories in California to ensure the quality and safety of the products.

Third-party lab reports do not contain complete information on the brand’s products. Information in the lab reports also does not match what product labels indicate.

However, lab results show that the brand’s products are free from harmful contaminants, including residual solvents, microbes, heavy metals, and pesticides .

Looking for something different? See our top CBD Oil for 2021 .

Bluebird Botanicals Company Summary

  • Founded in 2012 by herbalist Brandon Beatty, Bluebird Botanicals claims to provide high-quality hemp products. The brand aims for full transparency and a quality guarantee when it comes to its product offerings.
  • Based on several product reviews, Bluebird Botanicals offers safe, organic, and effective CBD oil, creams, and capsules.
  • The brand backs several non-profit organizations and programs, including Conscious Alliance, Paradox Sport, and Washington State University’s Save the Honeybee Program.
  • Bluebird Botanicals offer financial assistance programs for the benefit of American veterans and people with long-term disabilities.

Bluebird Botanicals Pros and Cons

Pros of Bluebird Botanicals

  • The brand provides a wide range of CBD products , including creams, hemp oil, capsules, and pet products.
  • Bluebird Botanical has an informative website especially useful for new CBD users. Its web page defines all unfamiliar CBD terms.
  • The brand supports several organizations and programs, including Conscious Alliance, Paradox Sports, Washington State University’s Save the Honeybee Program, and Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS).

Cons of Bluebird Botanicals

  • The COAs do not indicate the exact CBD concentration of the products, only the potency. The lab results also do not show which product the lab report is for.
  • The information on product labels, specifically the product potency, does not match what is indicated in the COA.

According to the product label of 30ml THC-free hemp oil, the product has a 25mg/ml of CBD potency. However, the COA indicated a CBD potency of 54.5mg/ml.

Review of Bluebird Botanicals Products

Bluebird Botanicals CBD Hemp Oil

The brand’s hemp oil comes in three variants: Classic, Signature, and Complete. All of the hemp oil products are available in 30ml and 60ml bottles.

The 30ml bottle has 250mg of CBD, while the 60ml bottle contains 500 mg of CBD . The hemp oil has a CBD potency of 4.4mg/ml.

The Hemp Classic CBD Oil contains various cannabinoids . The hemp oil is infused with full-spectrum CBD , cannabinol (CBN), and terpenes .

The 30ml Classic CBD Oil costs $29.75.

The hemp extract for the oil contains over 100 phytocannabinoids , including cannabidiolic acid ( CBDA ) and cannabigerol (CBG). The product is mixed with cold-pressed organic virgin hempseed oil .

Meanwhile, the Bluebird Hemp Signature contains full-spectrum hemp extract , black cumin seed oil, and the brand’s signature wildcrafted frankincense carterii CO 2 extract. Frankincense is an aromatic resin usually used for perfumes and incense.

According to a study, frankincense showed immunostimulant properties (1) . Immunostimulants are substances that boost activity in the body’s immune system.

The Bluebird Botanicals Hemp Complete CBD Oil contains heated and raw hemp extracts , including CBD and CBDA . The product is infused with an extra serving of terpenes .

The presence of several phytocannabinoids and steam-distilled terpenes help contribute to the “entourage effect.” The Signature and Complete CBD Oil variants cost $32.95 per 30ml bottle. It is recommended for hemp oil users to take one serving orally up to 10 times per day. Users should not take more than 10 servings per day.

The brand offers a CBD Sample Pack , including one 10ml bottle each of Signature, Classic, and Complete hemp oils. The sample pack is sold at $32.95.

The product received positive reviews from hundreds of users. According to Bluebird Botanicals CBD oil reviews , the brand’s hemp oils helped users manage pain, depression, and sleeping problems.

Bluebird Botanicals offers a hemp oil infused with CBD isolate . The Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-Free CBD Oil contains pure CBD extract mixed with organic fractionated coconut oil .

The CBD isolate oil tincture has 1,500mg of CBD per fluid ounce and a 54.5mg/ml CBD potency. The product contains no detectable trace s of THC.

The recommended dosage for the product is two servings a day, and it may be taken orally. The THC-Free CBD Oil costs $79.95.

Another unique Bluebird Botanicals product is the Concentrated CBD Oil . The concentrated CBD product is composed of three oil blends with six times the CBD concentration of the regular core line products.

The product line includes Hemp Classic 6x , Hemp Complete 6x , and the Full-Spectrum Hemp Signature 6x .

Bluebird Botanicals CBD Capsules

The brand’s CBD capsules come in Classic and Complete variants. The product contains 15mg of CBD per soft gel .

The Classic CBD Capsule is infused with full-spectrum CBD and organic virgin hempseed oil . The soft gel is made of gelatin , bovine, water, and glycerin .

The brand recommends a dosage of up to four capsules per day. The 30-count bottle costs $44.95.

Meanwhile, the Complete CBD Oil Capsule contains decarboxylated full-spectrum hemp extract , terpenes , and organic virgin olive oil .

Each capsule contains 15mg of CBD. It is recommended to take up to four capsules a day.

The 30-count bottle of Complete CBD Oil Capsule is sold at $49.45.

A recent study concluded that ingestible CBD products might improve the quality of life of patients suffering from anxiety (2) .

Bluebird Botanicals CBD Creams

Bluebird Botanicals offers CBD creams in three variants: Sport, Essential, and Silk. The creams come in trial, travel, and full sizes.

The trial-sized bottle costs $9.95, and the travel-sized lotion costs $39.96. Meanwhile, the full-sized bottle is available for $59.96.

The Hemp CBD Sport Lotion is made up of full-spectrum hemp extract , arnica, ginger, jojoba, mint, and coconut oil .

Meanwhile, the Hemp CBD Essential Lotion contains full-spectrum hemp extract , coconut oil , carrot, and jojoba.

The Hemp CBD Silk Lotion is composed of essential oils, jojoba, coconut oil , and full-spectrum hemp extract.

The brand’s CBD creams are free from artificial colors, artificial fragrances, parabens, and other harmful substances.

According to a 2016 study, the use of transdermal CBD reduced inflammation and pain caused by arthritis (3) .

Users may massage a dime-sized amount into target areas twice a day. Users may apply the CBD creams as prescribed by their physicians.

Bluebird Botanicals CBD Isolate

Bluebird Botanicals offers CBD Isolates that contain purified and crystalline CBD extract . The CBD isolate is odorless and flavorless.

The price of the product varies depending on the CBD concentration desired. The variant with 1g of CBD costs $24.95, while the variant with 5g of CBD is available for $99.95.

The product has a wholesale price of $4,200 for the variant with 1kg of CBD.

The brand’s CBD isolates are tested for residual solvents, microbes, heavy metals, pesticides , and other harmful chemicals.

According to a 2018 study, CBD helped adults who suffered from sleep problems and chronic pain (4) .

Bluebird Botanicals CBD Pet Products

Bluebird Botanicals offers CBD hemp oil and capsules for cats and dogs.

The brand’s Companion CBD Hemp Oil For Dogs and Cats contain full-spectrum CBD and non-GMO hempseed oil . The hempseed oil is extracted from a hemp plant grown in Canada.

The hemp CBD oil is available in 30ml bottles, which cost $27.95. The companion oil is also available in 60ml bottles, which cost $49.95.

Meanwhile, the Concentrated Companion CBD Capsules contain 15mg of CBD per capsule. The 30-count bottle costs $44.95, while the 60-count bottle is available for $84.95.

The companion capsules contain full-spectrum CBD and hempseed oil .

A recent study concluded that veterinarians found CBD to be helpful in managing acute and chronic pain , seizure, and anxiety in pets (5) .

Product Summary

Recommended for Optimizing Wellness

The brand’s products contain several phytocannabinoids to improve customers’ wellness . The products contain terpenes , vitamins, omega fatty acids, beta-carotene, flavonoids, and amino acids.

Source of Hemp

Bluebird Botanicals uses industrial hemp grown in the US and Canada.

Popular Products

The brand’s most well-known products are the Concentrated CBD Capsules , Hemp Classic CBD Oil , Complete CBD Oil Capsules, and Full-Spectrum Hemp Oil Signature.

Types Sold

The brand offers full-spectrum CBD and CBD isolates .

Range of Products/Forms

Bluebird Botanicals offers CBD in hemp oils, creams, capsules, and pet products.

Price Range

The most affordable product is the two-count Concentrated CBD Capsules sold for $4.99. Meanwhile, the most expensive product is the 1kg CBD Isolate sold for $4,200.

Extraction Method

The brand uses the CO 2 extraction process.

Lab Testing Transparency & Availability

Bluebird Botanicals provide updated third-party lab results on its website.

CBD Concentration per Serving Range

According to the brand’s website, the 30ml hemp oil products have a CBD concentration range of 250mg/unit to 1,500mg/unit.


According to COAs, the brand’s 30ml hemp oil products have a CBD potency range of 4.4mg/ml to 54.5mg/ml. Data is collected from lab reports published in March and May 2020.

THC Range of Products %

The brand’s full-spectrum products contain less than 0.3% THC, while the CBD isolates have no detectable traces of THC. In the US, CBD products with THC levels below 0.3% are legal at the federal level.


Bluebird Botanicals offers its CBD creams in three flavors: Essential, Sports, and Silk.

Tincture Carrier Oil

The brand uses hempseed oil as its CBD tincture carrier oil.

Lab Results

Bluebird Botanicals provides third-party lab results on its website to ensure quality and safety.


The usual delivery time takes one to two days. The brand uses the United Parcel Service (UPS) SurePost and Mail Innovations to deliver its products.

Refund Policy

Bluebird Botanicals has a 30-day return policy, provided the order is more than $110. Customers may call or email the brand to begin the return process.


The brand provides third-party lab results to prove that its products are tested for harmful substances, such as heavy metals, residual solvents, and pesticides .

Customer Service

Under an assistance program, Bluebird Botanicals offers discounts to US veterans and people who are medically disabled. If you are a veteran or disable d , you may send identification documents to Bluebird Botanicals to apply to the program.

Countries Served

Bluebird Botanicals delivers to locations inside and outside the US. Deliveries outside the US are subject to all US, UK, and other international export regulations.

More About Bluebird Botanicals

Louisville, Colorado -based Bluebird Botanicals was founded in 2012 by Brandon J. Beatty . Beatty is a herbalist who developed a fascination with cannabis even at a young age.

Beatty used to work at an apothecary in Boulder. He used this experience to launch his own company, Gaia Botanicals, which later on became Bluebird Botanicals. To promote general wellness , the brand launched its hemp-derived quality products for the first time in 2013. The CBD brand now continues its hard work to support the hemp CBD industry .

Bluebird Botanicals commits to upholding compassion, generosity, transparency, reliability, and altruism. These values are reflected in the brand’s quality control processes, business practices, and good manufacturing practices .

The brand uses environment-friendly bioplastic s in its product packaging.

The material is derived from sustainably sourced sugarcane. B ioplastic is 100% recyclable and Food and Drug Administration ( FDA )-compliant.

Bluebird Botanicals prides itself on its fair pricing structure. The brand aims to help customers save money through financial assistance programs.

It offers seasonal coupon codes to provide discounts to customers.

  • No. 1 Hemp CBD Company at the 2018 Cannabist Awards
  • 2019 CBD Hacker Best All Around CBD Lotion
  • 2019 Labdoor A+ rating – Classic CBD Oil

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How Do You Identify High-Quality CBD Products?

You have to look out for the following when looking for high-quality CBD products :

  • Detailed and accurate product label
  • Third-party lab tests or COAs with complete product information
  • Detailed description of product information on the brand’s website
  • Positive reviews from users of the product
  • Recognition awarded to the brand

How Do You Buy Bluebird Botanicals Products?

You can purchase products from Bluebird Botanicals’ website. Customers are required to provide a preferred address and proceed to checkout to pay online.

Alternatively, you may visit the brand’s numerous stores across the country. Bluebird Botanicals ’ website lists all stores across the US where you may buy its products.

Are There Any Bluebird Botanicals Coupon Codes Available?

You may get 10% off Bluebird Botanicals products on your first order and first purchase. All you have to do is provide verified CBD coupon codes , promo codes, or promo vouchers to avail.

The brand offers site-wide discounts that range from 30% to 50% off for the customers’ entire order. However, the store-wide offers are available for a limited time only.

Other CBD retailers also offer discounts and free gifts to those buying Bluebird Botanicals products .

You may visit the brand’s website to look for Bluebird Botanicals promo codes and Bluebird Botanicals discount codes on select items. It is recommended to visit the company web page to learn more about its best discount deals and total offers.


Bluebird Botanicals aims to provide high-grade hemp products . The brand’s C omplete, S ignature, and C lassic blends of CBD oils are positively reviewed by users.

The CBD company supports several non-profit organizations and programs. It also provides financial assistance programs for veterans and people with disabilities.

Turmeric and Frankincense in Inflammation: An Update

Botanical remedies have been used for centuries to treat various inflammatory conditions. This review describes some recent advances in our understanding of the actions and efficacy of 2 ancient anti-inflammatory herbs–turmeric (Curcuma longa) and frankincense (Boswellia serrata)–with modern examples of the evidence of their efficacy in osteoarthritis.


B otanical remedies have been used for centuries to treat various inflammatory conditions. Recent research has elucidated many mechanisms of action for such herbs, including modulation of cytokines, downregulation of NF-kB, and the inhibition of cyclooxygenase enzymes. It has also indentified active constituents and led the way to developments for enhancing the bioavailability and efficacy of these natural anti-inflammatory agents. This review describes some recent advances in our understanding of the actions and efficacy of 2 ancient anti-inflammatory herbs—turmeric (Curcuma longa) and frankincense (Boswellia serrata)—with modern examples of the evidence of their efficacy in osteoarthritis.


Inflammatory conditions are common in clinical practice. Acute inflammation is a part of the complex biological response of vascular tissues to harmful stimuli, such as pathogens, damaged cells, or irritants. It is a protective attempt by the organism to remove the injurious stimuli and to initiate the healing process. Thus, inflammation is required for the healing of wounds and infection.

In acute inflammation, a cascade of biochemical events propagates the inflammatory response, involving the local vascular system, immune system, and various cells within the injured tissue. Chronic inflammation leads to a progressive shift in the type of cells present at the site of inflammation and is uniquely characterized by a simultaneous destruction and healing of the tissue from the inflammatory process. Inflammation must therefore be controlled to ameliorate symptoms and prevent chronic inflammatory disease.

Numerous inflammatory mediators have been identified as being critical in regulation of the inflammation response. The nuclear factor NF-kB is considered as to be a nearly archetypal pro-inflammatory pathway, because NF-kB is so decisive in its control of the expression of genes that lead to upregulation of cytokines (a proinflammatory event). NF-kB, unsurprisingly, is chronically active in many inflammatory diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, sepsis, gastritis, asthma, among others. 1, 2

This resolution of inflammation is driven by dual-acting mediators known as lipoxins, resolvins, and protectins. In addition to serving as agonists to stop and lower neutrophil infiltration to inflamed tissues, pro-resolution molecules promote the uptake and clearance by macrophages of cells undergoing apoptosis, as well as of microbial pathogens. These actions at sites of inflammation stimulate antimicrobial activities in the mucosal epithelial cells. 3

Endogenous pro-resolution molecules are not immunosuppressors but instead activate numerous mechanisms promoting homeostasis. The multifactorial activity of these pro-resolution molecules in stimulating and accelerating resolution validates, in some respects, the use of natural agents over pharmaceuticals in promoting resolution of inflammation, since pharmaceuticals tend to target single enzymes and pathways, whereas natural agents tend to operate on multiple pathways simultaneously, such as:

  • Cessation of neutrophil and eosinophil tissue infiltration
  • Stimulation of non-phlogistic recruitment of monocytes (ie, without the elaboration of pro-inflammatory mediators)
  • Activation of macrophages to phagocytize microorganisms and apoptotic cells
  • Increased lymphatic removal of phagocytes
  • Stimulation of expression of antimicrobial defense mechanisms

Botanicals as Anti-Inflammatories

Herbal medicines have been used for centuries to treat inflammatory conditions. Much of the current research is focused on the identification, isolation, and characterization of active principles from crude extracts of known medicinal plants. Examples from the medical research community abound. Baicalin, a flavone isolated from the Chinese herb Scutellaria baicalensis Georgi and used in China to treat infectious diseases, inhibits T-cell proliferation and production of interleukin 1β, interleukin 6, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, interferon-γ, monocyte chemotactic protein 1, and macrophage inflammatory protein (MIP)-1α. 4,5 Berberine, a major isoquinoline alkaloid found in Mahonia, Hydrastis, Coptis, and other herbs, inhibits interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6 and TNF-α. 6,7 Bilberry juice modulates plasma concentration of NF-kB-related inflammatory markers in subjects at increased risk of cardiovascular disease. 8

While it is important to understand the active agents within medicinal plants, it should also be with caution that we extract and use constituents in isolation.

However, exclusive focus on individual biochemical targets neglects the fact that strong synergy of multiple constituents in a crude drug may prove more potent and effective than any single purified compound, or that interactions of co-occurring phytochemicals may help nullify the toxic effects of individual constituents. So while it is important to understand the active agents within medicinal plants, it should also be with caution that we extract and use constituents in isolation. This article will review two anti-inflammatory herbs—turmeric and frankincense—from the perspective of their traditional use as well as modern applications.

Turmeric (Curcuma longa)

The dried, ground rhizome of the perennial herb Curcuma longa has been used in Asian medicine since the second millennium BC. This perennial plant in the ginger family (Zingiberaceae) is cultivated throughout the tropics and is used as both a spice and a medicine. A traditional aromatic, stimulant, and colorant, turmeric has also been used topically to treat wounds, inflammation, and tumors. 9 Turmeric as the whole herb as well as some of its constituents has been found to exert antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-mutagenic activity. 10 It’s approved in Europe for indigestion and mild biliary complaints but is contraindicated in bile passage obstruction. 11

Curcumin is a term that is sometimes used to refer to any or all of the curcuminoid compounds in turmeric. There are 3 main curcuminoids in turmeric, of which curcumin (diferuloylmethane) is the best studied. Other curcuminoids in turmeric include demethoxycurcumin and bisdemethoxycurcumin. Curcumin imparts yellow color to the plant and is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. Many mechanisms of anti-inflammatory activity have been identified for curcumin. For example, curcumin downregulates COX-2 and iNOS enzymes, likely by suppressing NF-kB activation; 12 it inhibits arachidonic acid metabolism via lipoxygenase and scavenging of free radicals generated in this pathway; it inhibits the production of inflammatory cytokines, TNF-α , IL-1, IL-2, IL-6, IL-8, IL-12, monocyte chemoattractant protein (MCP), and migration inhibitory protein; it downregulates mitogen-activated, Janus kinases, and protein kinase C. 13, 14, 15 In addition, the vanilloid part of the curcumin molecule is important for activation of the transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1), which plays an important role in nociception. Among the several modes of action identified for turmeric, experimental research indicates that curcumin blocks TRPV1 activation and thereby inhibits TRPV1-mediated pain hypersensitivity. 16 Curcumin has also demonstrated antioxidant, hepatoprotective, antimutagenic, anticarcinogenic, antitumor, antibacterial, fungistatic, and vulnerary properties. 17

After curcuminoids, the key phytochemicals are turmeric terpenes, including various turmerones, borneol, cineole, eugenol, and curcumone. These are found in the turmeric essential oil,and are antifungal, antibacterial, antiparasitic, choleretic, analgesic, hepatoprotective, and anti-inflammatory. 18 The plant also contains various sugars, proteins, and resins.

Curcumin and Cancer

There is a considerable amount of research devoted to the overlap between inflammation and cancer. Curcumin’s anticancer effects are exerted upon numerous biochemical pathways involved in carcinogenesis, cell proliferation, apoptosis, metastasis, and angiogenesis. It suppresses growth of several tumor cell lines: Inhibition of constitutive NF-kB activation by curcumin can in turn inhibit proliferation of prostate cancer, multiple myeloma, mantel cell lymphoma, bladder cancer, melanoma, pancreatic cancer, head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), ovarian cancer, glioblastoma, and lung cancer. 14 Overexpression of cell cycle regulatory proteins is considered a hallmark of cancer. Curcumin modulates these in numerous ways. It suppresses activation of transcription factors implicated in carcinogenesis, including NF-kB, activator protein 1 (AP-1), and others. It modulates early growth response protein 1 (erg-1), peroxisome proliferation-associated receptor gamma (PPAR-γ), β-catenin, and Nrf-2). It downregulates Bcl-2, BclXL, inflammatory enzymes (eg, COX-2), MMP-9, TNF, protein kinases, and adhesion molecules. It induces caspases, impairs Wnt signaling events, inhibits cell-cell adhesion, and blocks transition of the cell cycle from G2 to M. It also inhibits high levels of inflammatory chemokines and other metastasis-stimulating events, as well as events that promote angiogenesis. Curcumin also increases chemosensitivity of cancer cells to anticancer drugs and to radiation, while protecting healthy cells from radiation’s effects. 19

As a result of these, and many other potential anticancer activities, curcumin has demonstrated promise for several types of cancers, including breast, colorectal, gastrointestinal, genitourinary, lung, leukemia, lymphoma, melanoma, ovarian, pancreatic, prostate, and sarcoma. 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25

Bioavailability of Curcumin

The clinical utility of curcumin has been limited by its chemical instability at intestinal pH values, 26 by its low water solubility, and by its poor oral bioavailability and quick conjugation and excretion. These properties lead to less than ideal conditions for therapeutic utility. The consequence is that several human studies of non-complexed curcumin have failed, even at high doses, 27 and its full clinical potential remains unrealized. 28,29,30

In humans, curcuminoids are very poorly absorbed, rapidly metabolized, and quickly eliminated. Once in the plasma, however, curcumin is quite stable and even permeable to hard-to-reach tissues, like the brain. The challenge, therefore, has been to find a way to stabilize curcuminoids in the gut and deliver them to the plasma without the use of synthetic agents or substances that are otherwise undesirable. Complexing curcumin to phosphatidylcholine (PC) into a “phytosome” is one recently successful method a overcoming this issue. 31

Preliminary pharmacokinetics (PK) research in animals demonstrated significant bioavailability advantages of turmeric-PC phytosome over non-complexed powdered curcuminoids. 32 In a follow-up PK study in humans, bioavailability of total curcuminoids as evaluated by the plasma area under the curve (AUC) was about 29-fold higher for those taking the phytosome than in subjects taking conventional turmeric extract (95% curcumin). Specifically, the bioavailability was enhanced 18-fold for curcumin, 54-fold for bis-demethoxycurcumin, and 62-fold for demethoxycurcumin. 33

Clinical efficacy of curcumin phytosome in osteoarthritis

Curcumin and curcumin-PC phytosome have demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties in humans and in experimental animal models. In addition, the phytosome has demonstrated clinical efficacy in painful, albeit less inflammatory, conditions such as osteoarthritis. The efficacy and safety of a proprietary curcumin-PC complex (Meriva®, Indena S.p.A ) were investigated in an 8-month, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. 34 One hundred patients with osteoarthritis were given two 500 mg tablets daily, 1 after breakfast and 1 after dinner, providing a total of 200 mg curcumin/day. Clinical endpoints were WOMAC score, Karnofsky Performance Scale Index, and treadmill walking performance. The researchers also evaluated a series of inflammatory markers including IL-1β, IL-6, soluble CD40 ligand (sCD40L), soluble vascular cell adhesion molecule (sVCAM)-1, erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR). The curcumin-PC phytosome significantly improved the Karnofsky Scale (from 73.3 at inclusion to 92.2 at the completion of the study), with no significant improvements in the control group. Scores for pain dropped significantly (P<0.05) following curcumin phytosome administration from 16.6 to 7.3, with no significant effects in the control group. Other improvements were also noted (eg, on stiffness, treadmill test). Moreover, the curcumin-PC phytosome induced statistically significant reductions of all markers of inflammation studied, while the control group had only marginal and non-significant effects on all parameters.

Frankincense (Boswellia serrata)

Frankincense is a resinous extract from the trees of the genus Boswellia, which are native to India and the Arabian peninsula. It has been used since antiquity in religious ceremonies and for perfume production, and its medicinal properties have been recognized and prized for millennia. 35 In modern times, the pharmacological characteristics and clinical efficacy of Boswellia serrata have been studied, with research published and systematically reviewed in the medical literature. 36

The main active constituents of boswellia are the boswellic acids, most importantly acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid (AKBA). AKBA has demonstrated many significant immunomodulatory and inflammation-modulating effects in preclinical research. The best-documented action of boswellic acids is probably the inhibition of the inflammatory mediator 5-lipoxygenase. 37 However, other factors such as cytokines (interleukins and TNF-α) and the complement system are likely molecular targets. 38,39 AKBA also naturally inhibits NF-kappaB. 40

Clinical efficacy of boswellia in inflammatory disease

A systematic review of data from randomized clinical trials showed boswellia extracts are clinically effective in asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, osteoarthritis, and collagenous colitis. 38 However, of the 47 potentially relevant studies considered, only 7 met all inclusion criteria. No serious safety issues were noted. The authors found the totality of the evidence encouraging, but not compelling, mainly due to the prevalence of methodological flaws in many studies. The heterogeneity of materials studied should also be considered. Modern extracts of boswellia are standardized to AKBA content. The most effective extracts to date employ as standardization level of 30% AKBA.

In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial of a 30% AKBA boswellia extract (5-LOXIN), researchers found that the extract significantly reduced pain and improved physical functioning in OA patients. 41 Seventy-five participants received either 100 mg or 250 mg (delivering 33 mg or 75 mg AKBA, respectively) per day of boswellia extract for 90 days. Each patient was evaluated for pain and physical function using the visual analog scale, Lequesne’s Functional Index, and Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index at baseline and at days 7, 30, 60 and 90. The cartilage degrading enzyme matrix metalloproteinase-3 was also evaluated in synovial fluid from OA patients. Measurement was also made of several other biochemical parameters in serum and hematological parameters, and urine analyses were performed to evaluate safety of the extract. At the end of the study, both doses of boswellia extract conferred clinically and statistically significant improvements in pain scores and physical function scores in the OA patients. Significant improvements in pain score and functional ability were recorded in the treatment group supplemented with 250 mg as early as 7 days after the start of treatment. The authors also reported a significant reduction in synovial fluid MMP-3 in the treatment group. A later clinical study comparing 2 different extracts of boswellia produced similar results. 42


Turmeric and frankincense are two herbs with ancient medicinal usage undergoing intense scrutiny and study for their modern applications and mechanisms of action. Many of the actions of key actives within these plants have been identified and described. Unlike most drugs, however, even single actives in these plants (eg, curcumin) work via multiple mechanisms, rather than targeting a single enzyme or receptor.

The slower onset of symptom relief produced by these and other botanical agents (as compared to pharmaceutical anti-inflammatory agents) should not be dismissed as lower efficacy. Rather, it is indicative of the gradual restoration of homeostasis. When time and symptom management permit, this outcome has advantages over the isolated suppression of specific inflammatory mechanisms and mediators, with fewer adverse effects and more sustained and sustainable clinical results.