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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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Chris Haigh

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

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Last Updated on August 12, 2019

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory and brain power:

1. Nuts

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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2. Blueberries

Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

3. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

4. Broccoli

While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

6. Soy

Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

7. Dark Chocolate

When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate: 15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

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Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

9. Foods Rich in Zinc

Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

10. Gingko Biloba

This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

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However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

11. Green and Black Tea

Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

Find out more about green tea here: 11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

12. Sage and Rosemary

Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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