Burning Frankincense in the form of incense has been a big part of religious and other cultural ceremonies for a millennium. The resin from the Boswellia tree also known as Frankincense or olibanum is believed to be an aroma that will help your soul reach spiritual exaltation.
Frankincense resin is mentioned in many different ancient texts including the old and new testament and is said to have mystical capabilities, a belief that has been carried forward to the spiritual practices of today.
Recently a team of researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem did a study to see what the effects were of this age-old practice. They studied Frankincense to determine why it has psychoactive effects.
In order to conduct the study and observe the effects of Frankincense on the mind, the researchers administered a primary Boswellia resin incensole acetate to some mice. The team found that the ‘incensole acetate’ influences the areas of the brain which regulate emotions.
Specifically the insense activated the protein TRPV3 which is common in all mammal brains. This protein is already known to help play a role in our skins perception of warmth. The effect on the mind, however, has a strong anti-depressant and anxiolytic effect which can leave you feeling open and relaxed. Frankincense helps your mind to rest and simply perceive the world around it.
It may not be a coincidence at all that many religions and spiritual practices have you burn Frankincense incense. This could help participants induce a sense of calm observation and reflect on life while being able to plan for the future much simpler and less stressful. Going to the a ceremony with Frankincense would generally help people feel calmer and happier.
In the Middle East during ancient times Boswellia resin was considered a precious commodity that came in from the sub-Saharan regions on caravans. It is still a major export in modern days.
Ancient Greeks used the precious resin as an oblation to the ancient Egyptians. Frankincense was used to help people manifest the presence of various gods and as a sign of gratification. In Ancient Judea and modern times they also used frankincense as the center of their ceremonies. The resin is also using in many Christian churches as well.
“In spite of information stemming from ancient texts, constituents of Bosweilla had not been investigated for psychoactivity,” said co-author of the study Raphael Mechoulam. “We found that incensole acetate, a Boswellia resin constituent, when tested in mice lowers anxiety and causes antidepressive-like behavior. Apparently, most present day worshipers assume that incense burning has only a symbolic meaning.”
Now in modern times frankincense is not only recognized for its spiritual role but as a practical form of treatment for people who suffer from depression and anxiety. According to the National Institutes of Health major depression is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. for people between the ages of 15-44 which ends up being around 15 million people.
3 million people in the U.S. has a dysthymic disorder which is a less severe type of depression and over 40 million people report suffering from some form of severe anxiety. Depression and anxiety are linked and often overlap in many cases. In the end, it all seems to come down to a battle over trying to return to a balanced state of mental peace.
We need not jump straight to the side-effect-ridden drugs from the pharmaceutical companies which often times cause the same problems they treat. Instead, we can turn to mother earth and try natural items such as frankincense and add other tools such as yoga, meditation, and proper nutrition into our lives to help us return to a balanced state of health.
Our sense of smell is strongly linked to the limbic system in the brain which is where we regulate motivation and emotion. Anxiety and depression affect almost 60 million people in the US. If used in moderation inhaling diffused incense is a moderate to low-risk and may be well worth it to those who suffer from their stressful conditions.
Frankincense has been found to help our body in more ways than just mental health. It has also been shown to help as a remedy for nausea, chest coughs, fever, hypertension as well as a great way to keep harmful insects such as mosquitos away!
“Incensole Acetate, an Incense Component, Elicits Psychoactivity by Activating TRPV3 Channels in the Brain.” The FASEB Journal. The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, n.d. Web. 11 Oct. 2015.
Siddiqui, M. Z. “Boswellia Serrata, A Potential Antiinflammatory Agent: An Overview.” Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. Medknow Publications & Media Pvt Ltd, n.d. Web. 11 Oct. 2015.
“The Story of Frankincense.” MEI.edu. Middle East Institute, n.d. Web. 11 Oct. 2015.
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. “Burning Incense Is Psychoactive: New Class Of Antidepressants Might Be Right Under Our Noses.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 May 2008.
Biden to Ban Menthol Cigarettes, Citing Health Impact on Youth and Black People
The Biden administration is reportedly planning to propose an immediate ban on menthol cigarettes, a product that has long been targeted by anti-smoking advocates and critics who claim that the tobacco industry has aggressively marketed to Black people in the U.S.
On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that the administration could announce a ban on menthol and other flavored cigarettes as soon as this week.
Roughly 85 percent of Black smokers use such menthol brands as Newport and Kool, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Research has also found that menthol cigarettes are easier to become addicted to and harder to quit than unflavored tobacco products, along with other small cigars popular with young people and African Americans.
Civil rights advocates claim that the decision should be greeted by Black communities and people of color who have been marketed to by what they describe as the predatory tobacco industry.
Black smokers generally smoke far less than white smokers, but suffer a disproportionate amount of deaths due to tobacco-linked diseases like heart attack, stroke, and other causes.
Anti-smoking advocates like Matthew L. Myers, president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, also greeted the move to cut out products that appeal to children and young adults.
“Menthol cigarettes are the No. 1 cause of youth smoking in the United States,” he said. “Eliminating menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars used by so many kids will do more in the long run to reduce tobacco-related disease than any action the federal government has ever taken.”
However, groups including the American Civil Liberties Group (ACLU) has opposed the move, citing the likelihood that such an action could lead to criminal penalties arising from the enforcement of a ban hitting communities of color hardest.
In a letter to administration officials, the ACLU and other groups including the Drug Policy Alliance said that while the ban is “no doubt well-intentioned” it would also have “serious racial justice implications.”
“Such a ban will trigger criminal penalties, which will disproportionately impact people of color, as well as prioritize criminalization over public health and harm reduction,” the letter explained. “A ban will also lead to unconstitutional policing and other negative interactions with local law enforcement.”
Pollution Is Making Human Penises Shrink and Causing a Collapse of Fertility, Scientists Say
With many still scoffing at the idea of rampant pollution posing a threat to humanity, a new study could drastically change the conversation: the chemicals across our environment could be the cause of shrinking human penises.
According to a new book by Dr. Shanna H. Swan, conditions in the modern world are quickly altering the reproductive development of humans and posing a threat to our future as a species.
The argument is laid out in her new book Count Down: How Our Modern World Is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race.
The book discusses how pollution is not only leading to skyrocketing erectile dysfunction rates and fertility decline, but also an expansion in the number of babies born with small penises.
While it may seem like good fodder for jokes, the research could portend a grim future for humanity’s ability to survive.
Swan co-authored a study in 2017 that found sperm counts had precipitously fallen in Western countries by 59 percent between 1973 and 2011. In her latest book, Swan blames chemicals for this crisis in the making.
“Chemicals in our environment and unhealthy lifestyle practices in our modern world are disrupting our hormonal balance, causing various degrees of reproductive havoc,” she wrote in the new book.
“In some parts of the world, the average twentysomething woman today is less fertile than her grandmother was at 35,” she also wrote, noting that men could have only half the sperm count of their grandfathers.
Swan blames the disruption on phthalates, the chemicals used in plastic manufacturing that also have an impact on how the crucial hormone endocrine is produced
However, experts note that the proper implementation of pollution reduction measures could help humanity prevent the collapse of human fertility.
Visualizing The World’s Deadliest Pandemics By Population Impact
Humanity has been battling against disease for centuries.
And while most contagious outbreaks have never reached full-blown pandemic status, Visual Capitalist’s Carmen Ang notes that there have been several times throughout history when a disease has caused mass devastation.
Here’s a look at the world’s deadliest pandemics to date, viewed from the lens of the impact they had on the global population at the time.
Editor’s note: The above graphic was created in response to a popular request from users after viewing our popular history of pandemics infographic initially released a year ago.
Death Toll, by Percent of Population
In the mid-1300s, a plague known as the Black Death claimed the lives of roughly 200 million people – more than 50% of the global population at that time.
Here’s how the death toll by population stacks up for other significant pandemics, including COVID-19 so far.
The specific cause of the Black Death is still up for debate. Many experts claim the 14th-century pandemic was caused by a bubonic plague, meaning there was no human-to-human transmission, while others argue it was possibly pneumonic.
Interestingly, the plague still exists today – however, it’s significantly less deadly, thanks to modern antibiotics.
History Repeats, But at Least We Keep Learning
While we clearly haven’t eradicated infection diseases from our lives entirely, we’ve at least come a long way in our understanding of what causes illness in the first place.
In ancient times, people believed gods and spirits caused diseases and widespread destruction. But by the 19th century, a scientist named Louis Pasteur (based on findings by Robert Koch) discovered germ theory – the idea that small organisms caused disease.
What will we discover next, and how will it impact our response to disease in the future?
Like this? Check out the full-length article The History of Pandemics
Republished from ZH with permission.