For many years we’ve heard supporters of herbal medicine argue that frankincense offers many health benefits such as controlling bleeding, speeding up the wound-healing process, improving oral health, fighting inflammatory conditions like arthritis, and improving uterine health. But the most promising use may be as a cancer treatment. Can frankincense really help treat cancer? Current research on the effectiveness of frankincense is limited, however, early results are promising, reports Medical News Today.
Frankincense oil is derived from the Boswellia tree. It has a long history in myth and folk medicine. In the Bible, it is one of three gifts offered to Jesus by the wise men, possibly because of its apparent healing powers. But in the scientific world, Frankincense actually does have health benefits – it contains boswellic acid, which may help fight inflammation. Inflammation is one of the key processes through which the body fights infection.
Pimples, for example, are pockets of inflammation. Arthritis is an inflammatory disease, and evidence increasingly points to inflammation as a factor in depression.
A 2006 study published in Planta Medica uncovered a number of ways the boswellic acid in frankincense might fight infection. Boswellic acid inhibited 5-lipoxygenase, a chemical involved in inflammatory processes. Researchers also found that boswellic acid might target free radicals and cytokines. Both of these play a role in inflammation.
This has important implications for the fight against cancer. Numerous studies have linked inflammation to cancer. By disrupting inflammatory processes, frankincense could stop cancer before it starts.
Frankincense might not just reduce inflammation. It may also directly attack cancer cells.
Some evidence suggests that frankincense might target cancer cells without harming healthy cells.
A 2009 study of bladder cancer studied how frankincense affected cultures of normal and cancerous bladder cells. The oil targeted cancerous cells, but it did not destroy healthy cells.
A 2015 study found similar effects in breast cancer. The researchers found that frankincense could kill breast cancer cells and disrupt the growth of future cancer cells.
Before frankincense can be used to treat cancer, researchers must perform human trials to prove that it works and is reasonably safe. People should talk to a doctor before trying frankincense or any other essential oil.
The anti-inflammatory properties of frankincense suggest that it might also be effective in the treatment of diseases such as:
Here are a few ways you can use frankincense. Soaking in frankincense in the bath tub. A few drops create an aromatic soak, and the body may absorb some of the oil.
Using frankincense on pulse points during meditation or yoga, or applying a few drops of oil to a hot compress.