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Frankincense may have psychoactive properties and treat anxiety, depression

Frankincense may have psychoactive properties and treat anxiety, depression

A study conducted and reported on in 2008 is making the rounds again; articles about beneficial aspects of frankincense have been appearing on alternative health blogs, and probably your social media feed, over the past month.

The authors of the study found that frankincense activated poorly understood channels in the brain; channels which seem to alleviate anxiety and depression. The research was conducted with lab mice based on historical texts which claimed beneficial effects.

From the original press release:

To determine incense’s psychoactive effects, the researchers administered incensole acetate to mice. They found that the compound significantly affected areas in brain areas known to be involved in emotions as well as in nerve circuits that are affected by current anxiety and depression drugs. Specifically, incensole acetate activated a protein called TRPV3, which is present in mammalian brains and also known to play a role in the perception of warmth of the skin. When mice bred without this protein were exposed to incensole acetate, the compound had no effect on their brains.

Do you burn frankincense? Why do you think a study from 2008 is only now being written up and shared over social media?


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Leslie Marshall

…for its own purposes, Frankincense is an oil. The Magi brought Frankincense oil as a gift.

David Allen

Frankincense and myrrh are both fragrant tree saps that are harvested by cutting the tree and allowing the sap to ooze out and harden into resin balls. I doubt the wise men brought oil, however the story doesn’t say.

Vivienne Tuffnell

Distillation of essential oils didn’t arrive until much later, so this was the solid resin.
Ali-Ibn Sana (commonly known as Avicenna the Arab) lived from 980 -1037 A.D. He was a child prodigy and became a well-educated physician by the age of 12. Ali-Ibn wrote books on the properties of 800 plants and their effects on the human body. He is also credited for being the first person to discover and record the method of distilling essential oils. His methods are still in use.”

Eric Bonetti

I love to sit in the pews closest to where the Gospel is read and censed. Such a wonderful experience!

Vivienne Tuffnell

I’m a huge fan of incense, proper incense, used at home as well as at church. The irony is that I’m more Quaker than C of E these days.
I have a small device bought in the cathedral shop of Cologne that has a metal grill over a tea light candle, for heating incense grains; releases the scent but very little smoke.
I also find that burning frankincense or using the essential oil can make the difference between getting through a bad day of depression and spending it crying in a darkened room.

Gregory Orloff

Very interesting! Long before I heard of this study, I noticed that the smell of frankincense, in church or at home during prayer time, would alleviate the blues and calm me down. Nice to hear it’s not just me!

William Bockstael

Incense gives me rhinitis…thanks but no thanks

William Moorhead

Possibly not, William. It may not be the incense, it may be the self-lighting charcoal.

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