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Science Says People Who Burn Frankincense Are Less Likely To Suffer From Depression

Science Says People Who Burn Frankincense Are Less Likely To Suffer From Depression

With the festive season just wrapping up, the seasonal scent of frankincense is likely to be leaving most homes. However, new research has indicated that those who burn frankincense on a regular basis are less likely to suffer from depression.

A new study conducted by researchers at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and John Hopkins University has found that when rats ingested the primary component of frankincense, generally known under its chemical name of boswella, the brains of the rats were modified. It created a feeling of mood balance and acted as an anti-depressant of sorts.

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Raphael Mechoulam, one of the researchers and authors of the findings, commented: “In spite of information stemming from ancient texts, constituents of Boswellia had not been investigated for psychoactivity.”

He also commented upon the research, suggesting that incensole acetate, the forementioned main component of the boswellia resin (also known as frankincense), can help lower levels of anxiety and promote feelings of positive mood.

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As the team at NoortropicMind explain: “One of the main neuro-active components of frankincense is the incensole acetate. Incensole acetate is a compound that stimulates the transient receptor potential vanilloid (TRPV3). The stimulation of this ion channel has been shown to relieve anxiety and depression in animal studies. TRPV3 falls within a class of ion channels that are not relatively understood by researchers as of now but have gained attention in the past few years for their connection to mood states.”

Depression is one of the most debilitating illnesses on the planet — an estimated 11 million Americans suffer from major depressive disorder, and another 40 million Americans have reported that they suffer from anxiety in varying degrees in their daily lives. While the burning of incense has been a staple of religious ceremonies almost since the dawn of organized religion itself, the evidence that burning frankincense can actually have a beneficial effect on the mind is something that’s been only recently explored in the realm of scientific research. In fact, given the popularity of incense in the majority of major religions’ rituals, it could be that burning frankincense as part of a ritual leads to an association of positive feeling and mood enhancement with being in the place of worship itself, and so increases the positive feelings toward the place of worship and religion in question.

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Gerald Weissmann, MD and Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB (Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology) Journal, commented on the discovery: “Studies of how those psychoactive drugs work have helped us understand modern neurobiology. The discovery of how incensole acetate, purified from frankincense, works on specific targets in the brain should also help us understand diseases of the nervous system. This study also provides a biological explanation for millennia-old spiritual practices that have persisted across time, distance, culture, language, and religion—burning incense really does make you feel warm and tingly all over!”

This can be positive news for the millions of individuals around the world who suffer from major depressive disorder and anxiety on a daily basis to whatever extent. Even though it in no way is a suitable substitute for therapy or prescribed medication, the idea of burning a pleasant-smelling frankincense candle on a daily basis to help soothe depression and anxiety is a small, but potentially important, comfort and a worthwhile avenue for future research. So, if you’re feeling down or want something to help you combat any ongoing depression or anxiety issues you may be having, it may be useful to invest in some frankincense candles, which, while certainly not a cure for the disease, is a manageable element of self-care and potentially beneficial for anyone suffering with these conditions.

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More by this author

Chris Haigh

Writer, baker, co-host of "Good Evening Podcast" and "North By Nerdwest".

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Last Updated on February 12, 2019

12 Things That May Cause Breast Cancer You Should Avoid

12 Things That May Cause Breast Cancer You Should Avoid

I’m a hypochondriac. Always have been since I was a child. One of my biggest fears as an adult is getting breast cancer. I visited my gynecologist a few months ago and asked what I could do to help prevent getting breast cancer. You know what she said? Nothing. According to this recommended OB/GYN doctor, besides regular check-ups to see if I already had breast cancer, there was nothing I could do to prevent a cancer that impacts 1 in 8 U.S. women.

BS.

After heavily researching breast cancer, I found out that I was making quite a few mistakes with my everyday activities. Here are 12 things that may cause breast cancer that you should avoid.

Buying Deodorant Without Checking the Label

I actually have a good friend who is more of a hypochondriac than I am, so I went to her with my concerns about breast cancer. She took me into the bathroom and thrust her deodorant at me. While at first I was confused and slightly offended, she explained that I should start using a different deodorant because the mass-produced ones at the store have ingredients (ie aluminum –based compounds) I can’t afford to put under my armpits and so close to my breasts. Luckily, she had an extra Tom’s natural deodorant to give me.

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There might not be any “conclusive” research that links antiperspirants to breast cancer but better safe than sorry.

Using Chemical Hair Dye

I know so many people who dye their hair every few months using the cheap boxed dyes you can buy at the store. Sure, it can be fun but it’s like playing Russian Roulette because the dyes you use most likely contain carcinogens. The National Cancer Institute even warns against the practice of just picking out a hair dye willy-nilly. So the next time you do it, go to a health foods market and find the most naturally-based hair dye you can.

Smoking

Regarding my visit to the gynecologist, she did come back after our conversation a few minutes later and asked if I smoked or drank a lot of alcohol. I said no (I don’t think any true hypochondriac can do either of those things). “You’ll be fine then,” she said. But she forgot about second-hand smoke, which can be just as dangerous. Now, I won’t go near anyone if they’re lighting up, including my BFF’s boyfriend. He can get as mad as he wants; my health is more important!

Wearing the Wrong Bra Size

When an organization devoted to protecting women against breast cancer suggests you get fitted with the right bra, you take notice. Bras that are too small or big might pose a risk because they just aren’t supportive on the breast tissue or if they are too tight they will cut off drainage of the lymph fluid. Hey, it was a great excuse to head to Victoria’s Secret to get measured.

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If I had my choice though, I would go all-natural and join the bra burners of the 60s (however, my mom was a bra burner, so that might make it a little awkward).

Using Chemical Household Cleaners

If the cabinet under your kitchen sink looks like most, there are enough chemicals to make all sorts of crazy things. And yes, as you and I suspected, those chemicals are REALLY bad. Not only are they connected with breast cancer, they are connected with other kinds of cancers, as well as chronic conditions like migraines, allergies and more. So from now on, clean with vinegar, baking soda and other materials that aren’t going to give you a medical nightmare.

Using Mothballs

When I was a little kid, I learned to use mothballs. They actually remind me of my grandmother, bless her heart. Little did I know that they are filled with chemicals that have been connected with breast cancer development. Looks like I’ll be looking for an alternative, like cedar chips. Sorry, Grammy!

Putting Non-Organic Make-Up on My Face

I won’t tell you the foundation I use, but I will tell you that after I read the ingredients, I promptly threw it away. It was chock full of all sorts of nasty things like parabens, which have been found en masse in tissue samples that came from breast cancer patients. I can still wear make-up, though. A trip to my local whole foods store was all it took to come up with organic-based, paraben-free cover-up.

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Neglecting My Physical Health

In my research, I discovered losing weight is a good way to ward off breast cancer since there have been indications of a link between being overweight and being diagnosed with this type of cancer. That’s all the motivation I need to get off the couch and head to the gym.

Drinking Alcohol

Like I mentioned above, alcohol has never been my drink of choice but basically everyone else I know highly enjoys their beer. Yet alcohol is super problematic if you want to avoid breast cancer, liver cancer and heart cancer. In a global study, over 21 percent of alcohol related deaths were because of cancer. I’m hoping for a soon-to-be revolution that swaps alcohol for tea (healthier and less expensive) when it comes to social drinking. Tea time anyone?

De-Odorizing My House With Air Fresheners

I love a clean-smelling house and car, but the air fresheners I’ve been using contain phthalates, a type of plasticizing chemical. Phthalates have been found in air fresheners because they help create a long-lasting fragrance. Unfortunately, that fragrance could be deadly. Looks like I’ll be boiling some water, cinnamon sticks and cloves on the stovetop to make my house smell really amazing!

Storing Everything in Plastic Containers

I have a habit of collecting those plastic containers. Whenever I get a coupon for them, I just go hog-wild and buy a bunch. But they have a connection to breast cancer, which I didn’t know before. It’s especially bad when you use them to reheat food in the microwave. I’m going to suck it up, throw them out and use glass containers instead.

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Buying the Wrong Food

I figured that pesticides were trouble from the get-go, and I was right. They get into your foods and, in some cases, seem to foster an environment where cancerous cells feel compelled to grow within the organs and tissues, including the breasts. It’s one more reason to buy from local farmers, as long as they don’t use pesticides. You’ll have to ask them, by the way; most local food market stands don’t have signs up about the whole pesticides topic.

While everyone still makes fun of me for being a hypochondriac, I know in my heart that I’m actually just protecting myself, and maybe educating some people on the health dangers that lurk in everyday items. My wellbeing is worth being the butt of a few jokes. Yours is, too.

Featured photo credit: NA via istockphoto.com

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