Your Brain on Incense

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Your Brain on Incense

Around the world and for thousands of years, incense has been used in religious and spiritual ceremonies and practices. Most ceremonies would be incomplete without it. “Boswellia sacra is a tree in the Burseraceae family. It is the primary tree in the genus Boswellia from which frankincense, a resinous dried sap, is harvested.” Beyond its amazing scents, science is now nding that incense, particularly Frankincense has some healing properties to the mind and body.

Incense can have some amazingly calming e ects on the brain. Doctors and priests have found that burning incense can have a calming e ect on one’s mood, especially
at times of unrest and calm patients down. But scientists took it a step further and really wanted to know what incense was really doing to help us. They found an active chemical compound in incense called incensole acetate. Having done this research on mice, in
a controlled setting, scientist realized that the mice given this active compound had a dual e ect: it was an anti-in ammatory, and it boosted their mood signi cantly. Scientist realized that incense activated a portion of the
brain that wasn’t previously known.

“There are opiate plants and there are plants that a ect dopamine, serotonin and similar substances that regulate the brain’s activity. The substances in these plants work using special receptors. It turns out that the active component in frankincense acts via a receptor that is hardly known in brain science. What is known is that this receptor, known as TRPV3, is found in nerves located beneath the skin and responds to a sensation of warmth.”

This receptor interplays with the active compounds in the incense and plays a role with mood regulation.

Killer germs have also been studied to be obliterated by plant smoke or smudging; a cleansing of the “spirit”. This ancient practice, accused of being New Age, has been given the polarized view of increasingly common practice.

Researchers found, with surprising overlap
worldwide, medicinal smoke is mostly used to
address the following speci c organ
systems: “pulmonary (23.5%), neurological (21.8%) and dermatological (8.1%).”
They also found that “ambient smoke,” which is the type of passively inhaled smoke generated by smudging/incense, is traditionally believed to be an e ective “air puri er.” The review argued that modern medicine should investigate medicinal smoke as a drug delivery system, owing to the following advantages: “The advantages of smoke-based remedies are rapid delivery to the brain, more e cient absorption by the body and lower costs of production.”

There’s excitement around incense’s medicinal properties in addition to another tool used for relaxation and meditation. The course of “killing germs” or getting rid of “negative vibes” only goes so far in the modern biomedicine world but the practice gains credibility through science due to its demonstrated useful function such as destroying disease-causing germs, activating brain receptors, and playing a huge role in mood regulation.

The Light in me bows to the Light in you.

Allison Feehan
Allison Feehan
N.D., D.Psc, CRMT Owner of Integrative Healing and Wellness 732.202.6797 523 Main Avenue Bay Head, NJ

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