The Burning of Frankincense has been part of cultural and religious ceremonies for over a millennium! Frankincense is actually made out of a resin from the Boswellia tree which is made into oils, incense, and is used in everything from helping your soul reach higher spiritual planes to medicinal uses.
Ancient texts such as the new and old testament talk about frankincense as having mystical powers. Many different spiritual practices worldwide still use it to this day.
Johns Hopkins University teamed up with researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to explore Frankincense to see what kinds of effects it has on the mind.
Mind Soothing Effects
To measure the effects on the mind, researchers used some of the resin from the Boswellia tree known as incensole acetate and gave it to some mice. This test showed them that ‘incensole acetate’ effects the area of the brain where emotions reside.
Incense from Frankincense directly affects a protein in the brain known as TRPV3. While we already knew that this protein affects our ability to feel warm sensations on our skin, it has a different warming effect on the mind.
When someone comes in contact with Frankincense it has a strong anxiolytic effect and acts as an anti-depressant. It also leaves a person feeling relaxed and open which can be very soothing. When your mind is able to rest it is much easier to enjoy the world around you without the mountain of stress.
Used to Balance the Mind and Soul
Having a calm and open mind is perfect for many spiritual practices, no wonder it is used in various rituals all over the world. Even a home meditation practice could benefit from the calming effects of Frankincense.
Many religions will burn it at their ceremonies and meetings in order to help everyone present feel calm and balanced.
This is a good way to help people be calm and happy while also allowing them a stress-free place to recharge their batteries.
In Ancient Times
Boswellia resin was considered to be a very precious commodity in the Middle East in ancient times. It was brought in from the Sub-Sahara region on the traveling caravans in those days and is still one of their major exports.
As frankincense is a gift fit for a king or god the ancient Greeks would often give it to the Egyptians. It was also used to honor various gods while also being a sign of gratification.
Both Christian and Jewish religions have used frankincense in ancient and modern times in their worship as well.
“In spite of information stemming from ancient texts, constituents of Bosweilla had not been investigated for psychoactivity,” said Raphael Mechoulam from the study.
“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.”
Modern Day Medicinal Use
Frankincense is starting to regain its role as a healer in modern society especially for people who suffer from anxiety or depression. The National Institutes of Health says that in the U.S. major depression is the number 1 cause of disability especially for people 15-44 years old. The number of people that this effects in the US are around 15 million.
3 million people in the US are struggling with severe depression while 40 million people suffer from one of the many forms of anxiety. Just imagine how many people worldwide struggle with these issues.
Often times depression and anxiety overlap but no matter what you are facing wanting to return to a sense of balance are crucial for healthy minds and emotions.
While there are many treatments and tools out there for depression and anxiety many of the pharmaceutical drugs on the market cause unwanted side effects.
“Antidepressants can sometimes cause a wide range of unpleasant side effects, including:
- increased appetite and weight gain.
- loss of sexual desire and other sexual problems, such as erectile dysfunction and decreased orgasm.
- fatigue and drowsiness.
- dry mouth.
- blurred vision.
- constipation.” -webmd.com
While many of these drugs are intended to be a temporary boost while we work on tools and coping mechanisms to better our life, many people end up on them for years.
This is why many people are starting to take charge of their health and implement tools such as self-education, meditation, yoga, spending time in nature, and being around people they connect with in order to help heal.
Using Insense to help Heal the Mind
Since our sense of smell is directly connected to our limbic system we can use various aromatherapies to help calm, motivate, and balance our emotions. For frankincense, it is recommended that we use a diffuser which will put the calming aroma into the air we breathe. This is a low to moderate risk which is much safer than many other medications.
If you are on psychoactive medications you may want to check with your health care provider to make sure there won’t be any complications from using both substances.
Frankincense will do more than just help you feel stress-free! It also is known to help with fever, hypertension, chest coughs and even nausea. It is also sometimes used to keep mosquitos and other insects away.
What do you use frankincense for? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
“Incensole Acetate, an Incense Component, Elicits Psychoactivity by Activating TRPV3 Channels in the Brain.” The FASEB Journal. The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, n.d. Web. 11 Oct. 2015.
Siddiqui, M. Z. “Boswellia Serrata, A Potential Antiinflammatory Agent: An Overview.” Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. Medknow Publications & Media Pvt Ltd, n.d. Web. 11 Oct. 2015.
“The Story of Frankincense.” MEI.edu. Middle East Institute, n.d. Web. 11 Oct. 2015.
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. “Burning Incense Is Psychoactive: New Class Of Antidepressants Might Be Right Under Our Noses.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 May 2008.