July 1, 2011
Frankincense Successfully Studied for Breast Cancer
*Frankincense is the most widely researched essential oil for its anti-cancer properties. There are MANY reports on www.pubmed.gov regarding its efficacy in inducing natural cell death in cancer cells of all sorts of cells from different organ systems, each report noting that at the concentrations tested, Frankincense killed cancer cells, while leaving other healthy cells alone.
This most recently published study focuses on breast cancer. And while it uses a specific species of Frankincense, it's been shown that both Carteri and Seratta species have produced the same results. While there is still no protocol for usage, the report itself is very interesting. We have had users report successful use of Frankincense CO2 essential oil (this is considered more therapeutic than the regular 'steam distilled' varieties, because more of the therapeutic larger molecules from the resin are drawn into the oil using this distillation technique -- and Ananda carries both types).
Users have created their own 10% concentration massage oil, and massaged-in on location 1-3 times daily, with very encouraging responses from their doctors.
Other reading on our site can be found here:
- Frankincense and Cancer
- Essential Oils and Cancer
- Lemongrass and Cancer
- And on our Forums, a look at the latest research
The Research Abstract:
Title: Boswellia sacra essential oil induces tumor cell-specific apoptosis and suppresses tumor aggressiveness in cultured human breast cancer cells.
By: Suhail MM, Wu W, Cao A, Mondalek FG, Fung KM, Shih PT, Fang YT, Woolley C, Young G, Lin HK.
From: BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011 Dec 15;11(1):129.
Gum resins obtained from trees of Boswellia species (Frankincense, or 'Olibanum' trees) are important ingredients in incense and perfumes. Extracts prepared from Boswellia sp. gum resins have been shown to possess anti-inflammatory and anti-neoplastic effects. Essential oil prepared by distillation of the gum resin traditionally used for aromatic therapy has also been shown to have tumor cell-specific anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic activities. The objective of this study was to optimize conditions for preparing Boswellea sacra essential oil with the highest biological activity in inducing tumor cell-specific cytotoxicity and suppressing aggressive tumor phenotypes in human breast cancer cells.
Boswellia sacra essential oil was prepared from Omani Hougari grade resins through hydrodistillation at 78 or 100 oC for 12 hours. (Ed. note: Again, this is a steam distillation ,whereas most medical aromatherapists consider the CO2 distillation to be superior. The chemical profile includes ALL the constituents found in hydrop/steam distllation, and then some). Boswellia sacra essential oil-mediated cell viability and death were studied in established human breast cancer cell lines (T47D, MCF7, MDA-MB-231) and an immortalized normal human breast cell line (MCF10-2A). Apoptosis was assayed by genomic DNA fragmentation. Anti-invasive and anti-multicellular tumor properties were evaluated by cellular network and spheroid formation models, respectively. Western blot analysis was performed to study Boswellia sacra essential oil-regulated proteins involved in apoptosis, signaling pathways, and cell cycle regulation.
More abundant high molecular weight compounds, including boswellic acids, were present in Boswellia sacra essential oil prepared at 100 oC hydrodistillation. All three human breast cancer cell lines were sensitive to essential oil treatment with reduced cell viability and elevated cell death, whereas the immortalized normal human breast cell line was more resistant to essential oil treatment. Boswellia sacra essential oil hydrodistilled at 100 oC was more potent than the essential oil prepared at 78 oC in inducing cancer cell death, preventing the cellular network formation on Matrigel (MDA-MB-231 cells), causing the breakdown of multicellular tumor spheroids (T47D cells), and regulating molecules involved in apoptosis, signal transduction, and cell cycle progression.
Similar to our previous observations in human bladder cancer cells, Boswellia sacra essential oil induces breast cancer cell-specific cytotoxicity. Suppression of cellular network formation and disruption of spheroid development of breast cancer cells by Boswellia sacra essential oils suggest that the essential oil may be effective for treating advanced breast cancer. Consistently, the essential oil represses signaling pathways and cell cycle regulators that have been proposed as therapeutic targets for breast cancer. Future pre-clinical and clinical studies are urgently needed to evaluate the safety and efficacy of Boswellia sacra essential oil as a therapeutic agent for treating breast cancer.