Who does not think of the Magi in incense? Frankincense was one of the gifts of kings from the East, besides myrrh and gold. At that time cost one kilogram of frankincense converted about 500 euros. Frankincense was therefore already in former times as a precious gift - and as a therapeutic.
What is frankincense?
Frankincense is the natural resin (Olibanum) of the incense shrub. One distinguishes between the Indian frankincense Boswellia serrata and the Arabic Boswellia sacra. To gain the resin, the bark of the trees is scratched, the exiting plant juice solidifies in the air and forms red-yellowish or brownish grains. At normal temperatures, these grains are almost odorless, however, the burning produces a strong aromatic scent.
Frankincense can not be harvested in any quantity. The plant thrives only in the most extraordinary regions of our earth, where hostile desert and rain-bringing mountains meet each other - its growing conditions are extremely demanding!
History of incense
As early as 7000 years ago incense was sacrificed to the oriental gods. The Egyptians also used frankincense for embalming, as fumigants and, above all, for disinfecting purposes. And in Indian folk medicine Ayurveda, the extracts of the incense resin Olibanum have been used for millennia against chronic arthritis and chronic bronchitis. In Ayurvedic medicine, no plant was studied as accurately as the incense. How Olibanum works is not yet scientifically proven, but it is confirmed.
Ingredients and effect of frankincense
The resin of frankincense contains in addition to known ingredients such as essential oils or tannins and 5-8% of boswellia acids - the effective ingredients of frankincense. Researchers have found that these substances can stop inflammatory reactions. Inflammation in the body is also caused by a specific enzyme (5-lipoxygenase).
This enzyme causes the formation of the so-called leukotrienes. Leukotrienes are substances that the body produces during inflammation and that are responsible for the maintenance of chronic inflammation. Clinical studies indicate that boswellia acids derived from frankincense resin have potent anti-inflammatory effects in chronic inflammatory conditions such as rheumatism and polyarthritis. These indications of an inhibition of the inflammatory mechanisms could also be shown in clinical investigations in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease).
Treatment with frankincense?
The centuries-old experience with Olibanum as a phytotherapeutic and the results of modern incense research indicate various potential uses for chronic inflammation. Polyarthritis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, asthma, and even edema of brain tumors appear to be treatable. Boswellic acids of Indian frankincense thus show promising perspectives, which must, however, be confirmed by further informative clinical studies.