Frankincense Studies Show Anti-Cancer and Immunostimulant Effects
Frankincense, the resin (similar to tree sap) of the Olibanum trees of Africa, has been used as a healing agent for literally thousands of years. Both the resin and the essential oil distilled from the resin have been the subject of scientific studies. The studies have focused on the immunostimulant and anti-tumor (anti-cancer) effects of these substances. And while one of these studies below mentions the steam distilled essential oil, some of America's leading science-based aromatherapists believe the CO2 distilled variety to be the superior health-enhancing agent. It shows a chemical profile closer to the natural resin of the tree, yet is still very easy to work with in terms of essential oil blending, topical application and inhalation.
Here are a few selected study abstracts, which note that Frankincense stimulates lymphocyte transformation (essentially the immunne system preparing cells to fend of disease) and acts as a destroyer of tumors.
Study: Chemistry and immunomodulatory activity of frankincense oil.
Mikhaeil BR, Maatooq GT, Badria FA, Amer MM. Department of Pharmacognosy, Faculty of Pharmacy, Mansoura University, Mansoura 35516, Egypt.
The yield of steam distillation of frankincense essential oil (3%); and its physicochemical constants were determined. Capillary GC/MS technique was used for the analysis of the oil. Several oil components were identified based upon comparison of their mass spectral data with those of reference compounds published in literature or stored in a computer library. The oil was found to contain monoterpenes (13.1%), sesquiterpenes (1%), and diterpenes (42.5%). The major components of the oil were duva-3,9,13-trien-1,5alpha-diol-1-acetate (21.4%), octyl acetate (13.4%), o-methyl anisole (7.6%), naphthalene decahydro-1,1,4a-trimethyl-6-methylene-5-(3-methyl-2-pentenyl) (5.7%), thunbergol (4.1%), phenanthrene-7-ethenyl-1,2,3,4,4a,5,6,7,8,9,10,10a-dodecahydro-1,1,4a,7-tetramethyl (4.1%), alpha-pinene (3.1%), sclarene (2.9%), 9-cis-retinal (2.8%), octyl formate (1.4%), verticiol (1.2%) decyl acetate (1.2%), n-octanol (1.1%). The chemical profile of the oil is considered as a chemotaxonomical marker that confirmed the botanical and geographical source of the resin. Biologically, the oil exhibited a strong immunostimulant activity (90% lymphocyte transformation) when assessed by a lymphocyte proliferation assay.
Study: Immunomodulatory triterpenoids from the oleogum resin of Boswellia carterii Birdwood.
Badria FA, Mikhaeil BR, Maatooq GT, Amer MM. Department of Pharmacognosy, Faculty of Pharmacy, Mansoura University, 35516 Mansoura, Egypt.
The immunomodulatory bioassay-guided fractionation of the oleogum resin of frankincense (Boswellia carterii Birdwood) resulted in the isolation and identification of 9 compounds; palmitic acid and eight triterpenoids belonging to lupane, ursane, oleanane, and tirucallane skeleta were isolated form the resin. These triterpenoids are lupeol, beta-boswellic acid, 11-keto-beta-boswellic acid, acetyl beta-boswellic acid, acetyl 11-keto-beta-boswellic acid, acetyl-alpha-boswellic acid, 3-oxo-tirucallic acid, and 3-hydroxy-tirucallic acid. The structures of the isolated compounds were deduced based on spectroscopic evidences. The lymphocyte transformation assay of the isolated compounds proved that the total extract retained more activity than that of any of the purified compounds. (ed. note: 'purified compounds' means any of the single molecules isolated from Frankincense ~ the CO2 supercritical extract is not purified in this way; it contains a complex mixture of natural chemicals present in the resin).
Sudy: Anti-tumor and anti-carcinogenic activities of triterpenoid, beta-boswellic acid.
Huang MT, Badmaev V, Ding Y, Liu Y, Xie JG, Ho CT. Laboratory for Cancer Research, College of Pharmacy, Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ 08854-8020, USA.
Boswellin (BE), a methanol extract of the gum resin exudate of Boswellia serrata, contains naturally occurring triterpenoids, beta-boswellic acid and its structural related derivatives, has been used as a traditional medicine for the treatment of inflammatory and arthritic diseases. Topical application of BE to the backs of mice markedly inhibited 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA)-induced increases in skin inflammation, epidermal proliferation, the number of epidermal cell layers, and tumor promotion in 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (DMBA)-initiated mice. Feeding 0.2% of BE in the diet to CF-1 mice for 10-24 weeks reduced the accumulation of parametrial fat pad weight under the abdomen, and inhibited azoxymethane (AOM)-induced formation of aberrant crypt foci (ACF) by 46%. Addition of pure beta-boswellic acid, 3-O-acetyl-beta-boswellic acid, 11-keto-beta-boswellic acid or 3-O-acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid to human leukemia HL-60 cell culture inhibited DNA synthesis in HL-60 cells in a dose-dependent manner with IC50 values ranging from 0.6 to 7.1 microM. These results indicate that beta-boswellic acid and its derivatives (the major constituents of Boswellin) have anti-carcinogenic, anti-tumor, and anti-hyperlipidemic activities.
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