Frankincense and Cancer

Studies on Frankincense and Cancer

History:
Frankincense trees were considered extremely valuable during ancient times and their location was often a matter of state secret. Egyptians used the incense to fumigate their homes, for ritual incense and the oil for cosmetics. It was used as a holy anointing oil and as a general cure-all for all diseases. It was also used to enhance meditation and elevate spiritual consciousness. History shows it was used for embalming and as a perfume AND formed an important part of the Sabbath day offering. Frankincense or olibanum was mentioned inthe Scriptures over 50 times and is found in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Chronicles, Nehemiah,Song of Solomon, Isaiah, Matthew, and Revelations.

Actions:
The actions of frankincense include anti-inflammatory, anti-tumoral, immune-stimulant, antidepressant and muscle relaxing. It stimulates the limbic system as well as the hypothalamus, pineal and pituitary glands. It is strongly anti-viral, antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial, antiseptic and expectorant oil. Frankincense has the ability to relax and revitalize at the same time.


Research:
Cancer Research Using Frankincense

There are a few researchers studying the effects of frankincense on various cancers with some degree of success. In vitro effects show inhibition or stimulation of cell proliferation depending on the concentration of frankincense oil in the growth media.

  • A recent study conducted at the University of Oklahoma showed that frankincense kills bladder cancer cells without harming surrounding tissue.
  • Studies are showing frankincense to be a strong immune-stimulant with some claiming that frankincense has the ability to repair DNA.
  • A Chinese study conducted in 2000, indicated that Boswellia has “anti-carcinogenic and anti-tumor activities.” These boswellic acids from frankincense inhibited “a variety of malignant cells” in people suffering from leukemia and brain tumors.
  • The Cancer Research Institute of the University of Nevada treated cervical cancer with frankincense, in which “there was 72% inhibition and growth of non-cancerous cells.”
  • Other studies have shown that boswellic acids from frankincense exert anti-prolifertive activity toward a variety of malignant cells.
  • Another study showed that boswellic acids are potent apoptotic agents to cancer cells and another one shows that Boswellic acids from frankincense gum exhibit potent cytotoxic activity againstCNS tumors.


Why Hasn’t the General Public Heard about This?
It sounds incredulous but the anti-cancerous effects of frankincense has been known for thousands of years. Does it work for everyone? No, but compared to the effects of chemotherapy, frankincense DOES show great promise now and in the future. Frankincense will never be promoted for the breakthrough that it is because there is no money to be made in its promotion. Frankincense is expensive in comparison to other therapeutic grade oils but “cheap” in comparison to drugs like chemotherapy.

Scientists have observed and do agree that there is some agent within frankincense which stops cancer spreading, and which induces cancerous cells to close themselves down. Immunologist Mahmoud Suhail is quoted "Cancer starts when the DNA code within the cell's nucleus becomes corrupted. It seems frankincense has a re-set function. It can tell the cell what the right DNA code should be. Frankincense separates the 'brain' of the cancerous cell - the nucleus - from the 'body' - the cytoplasm, and closes down the nucleus to stop it reproducing corrupted DNA codes."--Currently, with chemotherapy, doctors blast the area around a tumour to kill the cancer, but that also kills healthy cells, and weakens the patient. Treatment with frankincense could eradicate the cancerous cells alone and let the others live.The task now is to isolate the agent within frankincense which, apparently, works this wonder



History Medical Research (Bosellia serrata)
In Ayurvedic medicine Indian frankincense (Boswellia serrata), commonly referred to as "dhoop," has been used for hundreds of years for treating arthritis, healing wounds, strengthening the female hormone system, and purifying the atmosphere from undesirable germs. The use of frankincense in Ayurveda is called "dhoopan". In Indian culture, it is suggested that burning frankincense everyday in house brings good health.

Standardized preparations of Indian frankincense from Boswellia serrata are being investigated in scientific studies as a treatment for chronic inflammatory diseases such as Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and osteoarthritis. Initial clinical study results indicate efficacy of incense preparations for Crohn's disease. For therapy trials in ulcerativecolitis, asthma, and rheumatoid arthritis there are only isolated reports and pilot studies from which there is not yet sufficient evidence of safety and efficacy. Similarly, the long-term effects and side effects of taking frankincense has not yet been scientifically investigated. Boswellic acid in vitro antiproliferative effects on various tumor cell lines (such as melanoma, glioblastomas, liver cancer) are based on induction of apoptosis. A positive effect has been found in the use of incense on the accompanying specimens of brain tumors, although in smaller clinical trials. Some scientists say the results are due to methodological flaws. The main active compound of Indian incense is viewed as being boswellic acid.

As of May 2008 FASEB Journal announced that Johns Hopkins University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have determined that frankincense smoke is a psychoactive drug that relieves depression and anxiety in mice. The researchers found that the chemical compound in censole acetate is responsible for the effects.

In a different study, an enriched extract of "Indian Frankincense" (usually Boswellia serrata) was used in a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study of patients with osteoarthritis. Patients receiving the extract showed significant improvement in their arthritis in as little as seven days. The compound caused no major adverse effects and, according to the study authors, is safe for human consumption and long-term use.

The study was funded by a company which produces frankincense extract, and that the results have not yet been duplicated by another study.

In a study published in March 2009 by the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center it was reported that"Frankincense oil appears to distinguish cancerous from normal bladder cells and suppress cancer cell viability


Study: Frankincense may fight some cancers
January 31, 2006
A Virginia Tech scientist says frankincense oil might be useful in treating malignant melanoma -- an aggressive cancer that attacks humans and equines.

Approximately 54,000 malignant melanoma cases are diagnosed annually, according to the American Cancer Society, and there are many similarities between malignant melanoma in horses and malignant melanoma in people.

Recognizing the opportunity for translational research, John Robertson, a professor in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech, has been studying the disease and an experimental treatment involving frankincense oil.

Frankincense is a botanical oil distillate made from fermented plants that contains boswellic acid, a component known to have anti-neoplastic properties.

During a recent presentation before a regional meeting of the American Cancer Society in Roanoke, Va., Robertson -- director of the college's Center for Comparative Oncology -- said he's found the oil has fairly selective anti-tumor activity and doesn't appear to disrupt normal cells."I think this research on frankincense oil suggests that this ancient medicine may have significant modern uses for chemotherapy of non-resectable malignancies," said Robertson.

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Links to Research: