Did you know that the burning of a Boswellia trees’ resin has been burned as an incense for millennia by religious and cultural ceremonies? Its is said that the aroma released by the incense has contributed to spiritual exaltation. The Boswellia resin, also known as olibanum and frankincense has been mentioned a multitude of times in ancient texts which include the old testament for its capabilities for mystical experiences, and is still used today by some spiritual practices.
With a team of international scientists, researchers from the Johns Hopkins University and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem have put into motion a mission to understand why and how these age-old practices were able to produce some of their mysterious psychoactive effects simply by burning the resin of the Boswellia tree.
The team of researchers were able to administer incensole acetate, to gain the ability to observe the incense and its psychoactive effects, which are contributed by the burning of the Boswellia resin, to multiple mice. The team was able to ascertain that once burned, activated the protein TRPV3 which affects the areas of the brain that aid in emotion regulation. The protein TRPV3 has been found only within mammalian brains, which is known to have a part in playing the role in the skin’s perception of warmth.
The effect it has on the mind is one of a powerful anti-depressant and tends to leave individuals, in a powerful and almost vulnerable state of relaxation where one is left to rest and simply perceive anything that comes your way.
the co-author of the team’s findings, Raphael Mechoulam stated, “In spite of information stemming from ancient texts, constituents of Boswellia had not been investigated for psychoactivity, We found that incensole acetate, a Boswellia resin constituent, when tested in mice lowers anxiety and causes antidepressive-like behavior. Apparently, most present day worshipers assume that incense burning has only a symbolic meaning.”
Boswellia resin was a very precious commodity in the ancient Middle East, and was only obtained from the caravans from the sub-Sahara regions and are still a major export of the area even to present day. Even the ancient greeks widely used the resin as an oblation or offering to their gods.
Along with the ancient Egyptians, the burning of frankincense was also seen as the manifestation and represented their presence of their gods including as well, the signs of gratification. Today the burning of the Boswellia resin is still used as an offering in some Christian sects for their ceremonies, as well as serving as the center of their ceremonies of ancient Judea.
Today frankincense is not only recognized and used for a ceremonial role, but as turned into a form of therapy in treating depression and anxiety. In a report by the National Institute of Health, people ranging from ages 15-44 are extremely susceptible to major depressive disorders, which is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. affecting almost 15 million Americans. Additionally over 3 million are reportedly suffering from dysthymic disorder, which isn’t much better considering it is a less severe form of depression. Over 40 million people in the United States are suffering from severe anxiety, which is also often associated with depression in itself.
As sentient beings of Earth, we should look to better or physical and mental state of beings, but pushing towards unsynthesized methods of health, and look to more natural means of dealing with issues like anxiety and depression. One of those answers seems to be in the form of frankincense, with so many benefits to the stability of our mind and wellbeing. Why would you not at least, want to try it out.
Additionally, the effects of frankincense have been found to be an effective remedy for nausea, fever, chest coughs, hypertension, as well as driving away mosquitoes and other harmful insects.