Research suggests that boron may be an effective way to treat the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

Boron is a naturally occurring chemical found in many plants and foods. While health professionals do not currently recommend boron as an essential nutrient, it is available as a supplement. It typically comes in 3-milligram (mg) capsules.

This article takes a closer look at boron, its benefits, side effects, and what people need to know before taking boron as a supplement.

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Boron is a trace mineral. It is naturally present in lots of plants and foods, volcanic spring waters, and mineral deposits across the world.

The following foods are rich sources of boron:

The majority of people in the United States get most of their boron intake from coffee, milk, apples, beans, and potatoes, because they tend to eat large amounts of these.

Vegetarians tend to get the most boron from their diet because they typically eat more plant-based foods, which are good sources of boron.

Boron plays an important role in reducing the enzymes that cause an inflammatory response, reducing joint pain and stiffness associated with arthritis.

Boron has anti-inflammatory properties that can help alleviate the symptoms of arthritis.

A 2015 review of the benefits of boron found that greater boron intake (3–10 mg a day) was associated with fewer cases of osteoarthritis, reducing cases by as much as 60%. The review also found that people with osteoarthritis had lower concentrations of boron than people without osteoarthritis.

A 2018 review found that people with rheumatoid arthritis also had lower levels of boron.

People with low bone health may wish to speak with a doctor about using boron supplements to replenish calcium and magnesium stores. Supplements may help by reducing how much boron the body loses through urine.

The 2018 review also highlighted how boron can support bone health in general, particularly in women with postmenopausal osteoporosis. It may do this by reducing the loss of essential minerals and increasing calcium and vitamin D levels.

Aside from its benefits for arthritis and bone health, boron may have several positive effects on other health conditions. For example, applying boric acid inside the vagina may help treat yeast infections, especially where other treatments have failed.

Researchers are also looking at boron as a potential treatment for malignant brain tumors and other forms of cancer. Boron neutron capture therapy (BNCT) delivers a form of boron directly to tumors before exposing them to thermal neutrons. This results in a higher dose going to the tumor compared with surrounding tissues. However, research and clinical trials are still ongoing in this area, so it may be some years before BNCT enters the mainstream.

According to the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), low boron intake may increase the risk of lung cancer, prostate cancer, and cervical cancer. So increasing boron intake may be associated with reducing the risk of cancer, though confirming this would require more clinical studies.

Additionally, crisaborole is a boron-based topical product for the treatment of eczema.

People can purchase boron as daily 3-mg supplements. It is available online and in many health food stores. It is important to note that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not currently approve supplements, including boron, so quality may vary.

The Royal Society of Chemistry estimates that people take in around 2 mg of boron per day through diet alone.

According to the ODS, a safe intake of boron may be between 1–13 mg per day.

There is no research to suggest boron has any interactions with other medications. In addition, there is no data to suggest adverse effects of high boron intakes from food or water.

However, in high doses, boron can be dangerous. A dose of 15,000–20,000 mg can be fatal in adults, while high boron intakes in babies can cause anemia, seizures, skin rashes, and thinning hair.

The ODS lists symptoms of boron toxicity as:

The Arthritis Foundation lists nine vitamins and supplements that may relieve the symptoms of arthritis, including joint pain, stiffness, and inflammation:

  1. SAMe or S-adenosylmethionine: This may help to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. It may also stimulate cartilage growth. Versus Arthritis recommends taking SAMe under a doctor’s supervision at a dosage of around 400–1600 mg a day.
  2. Boswellia serrata (Indian frankincense): This may help relieve pain, reduce inflammation, prevent cartilage loss, and suppress the immune system response. A 2020 systematic review found that it reduced pain and stiffness and improved joint function in hundreds of people with osteoarthritis.
  3. Capsaicin or Capsicum frutescens: Available as a topical treatment or patch, this may help to reduce joint pain by more than 50%.
  4. Turmeric/curcumin or Curcuma longa: Reduces joint pain and swelling in people with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
  5. Avocado-soybean unsaponifiable: A 2020 review suggests this blocks chemicals that increase inflammatory response, protects synovial cells that line the joints, and may help to regenerate connective tissue. It may also help to reduce pain and stiffness.
  6. Cat’s claw or Uncaria tomentosa: This may inhibit the inflammatory response in the body and boost the immune system.
  7. Fish oil: This may block inflammatory responses in the body and increase anti-inflammatory chemicals (resolvins). It may reduce joint stiffness and pain.
  8. Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA): Similar to fish oil, GLA converts into anti-inflammatory chemicals in the body, helping reduce joint pain and stiffness and improving grip strength.
  9. Ginger: This may reduce inflammatory reactions and pain associated with arthritis. A 2020 review of a decade of trials found that oral and topical ginger is a promising treatment for chronic pain.

Boron is a naturally occurring trace mineral found in plants and food. It is available as a health supplement.

Boron may help relieve the symptoms and pain associated with arthritis.

Although there is no recommended daily intake for boron, experts suggest that a dosage of between 1–13 mg per day is safe to take. Higher doses may have serious side effects.

Other vitamin supplements, such as SAMe or turmeric, may also help relieve the symptoms of arthritis and reduce pain and inflammation.