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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 December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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