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18 September, 2008

Health News-16: "Burning Incense sticks good for brain!"

Religious leaders have contended for millennia that burning incense is good for the soul. Now, biologists have learned that it is good for our brains too. An international team of scientists, including researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, describe how burning frankincense (resin from the Boswellia plant) activates poorly understood ion channels in the brain to alleviate anxiety or depression. This suggests that an entirely new class of depression and anxiety drugs might be right under our noses. "In spite of information stemming from ancient texts, constituents of Boswellia had not been investigated for psychoactivity," said Raphael Mechoulam, one of the research study's co-authors. "We found that incensole acetate, a Boswellia resin constituent, when tested in mice, lowers anxiety and causes antidepressive-like behaviour. Apparently, most present day worshippers assume that incense burning has only a symbolic meaning." To determine incense's psychoactive effects, the researchers administered incensole acetate to mice. They found that the compound significantly affected areas in brain known to be involved in emotions as well as in nerve circuits that are affected by current anxiety and depression drugs. Specifically, incensole acetate activated a protein in mammalian brains.....
Excerpt from Sunday Times of India, Chennai, June 29, 2008.
Wikipedia article on "Boswellia":
Grateful thanks to The Times of India and Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

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