Saturday I visited a new New Age shop near our home in Oregon City and perused shelves crammed with statuary, crystals, books and beaded things. Wanting to support the brave couple who’ve opened the shop in these dire times for retail, I bought some incense.
I’m not a big user of incense, but I thought a whiff of something mysteriously fragrant would be good in my office on autumn evenings. I bought a scent called Nag Champa, which I’d never heard of, but turned out to be a decent choice.
All of this is why this morning a Science Daily article caught my eye. It seems scientists from Johns Hopkins and Hebrew University have determined that some incenses (not necessarily Nag Champa) help alleviate depression and anxiety.
The specific focus of the research was incensole acetate, a resin found in the Boswellia plant that also goes by the better-known name of frankincense.
"We found that incensole acetate, a Boswellia resin constituent, when tested in mice lowers anxiety and causes antidepressive-like behavior,” said researcher Rapheal Mechoulam. The compound significantly affected areas in brain areas known to be involved in emotions, as well as in nerve circuits affected by current anxiety and depression drugs.
“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,” said Gerald Weissman, editor of the journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. “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."
I can only hope these findings lead to treatments more aromatic and less pharmaceutical.
Click here for the Science Daily article.