Navigation Links
Incense is psychoactive: Scientists identify the biology behind the ceremony
Date:5/20/2008

Religious leaders have contended for millennia that burning incense is good for the soul. Now, biologists have learned that it is good for our brains too. In a new study appearing online in The FASEB Journal (http://www.fasebj.org), an international team of scientists, including researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, describe how burning frankincense (resin from the Boswellia plant) activates poorly understood ion channels in the brain to alleviate anxiety or depression. This suggests that an entirely new class of depression and anxiety drugs might be right under our noses.

In spite of information stemming from ancient texts, constituents of Bosweilla had not been investigated for psychoactivity, said Raphael Mechoulam, one of the research studys co-authors. 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.

To determine incenses psychoactive effects, the researchers administered incensole acetate to mice. They found that the compound significantly affected areas in brain areas known to be involved in emotions as well as in nerve circuits that are affected by current anxiety and depression drugs. Specifically, incensole acetate activated a protein called TRPV3, which is present in mammalian brains and also known to play a role in the perception of warmth of the skin. When mice bred without this protein were exposed to incensole acetate, the compound had no effect on their brains.

Perhaps Marx wasnt too wrong when he called religion the opium of the people: morphine comes from poppies, cannabinoids from marijuana, and LSD from mushrooms; each of these has been used in one or another religious ceremony. said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. Studies of how those psychoactive drugs work have helped us understand modern neurobiology. The discovery of how incensole acetate, purified from frankincense, works on specific targets in the brain should also help us understand diseases of the nervous system. This study also provides a biological explanation for millennia-old spiritual practices that have persisted across time, distance, culture, language, and religionburning incense really does make you feel warm and tingly all over!

According to the National Institutes of Health, major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability in the United States for people ages 1544, affecting approximately 14.8 million American adults. A less severe form of depression, dysthymic disorder, affects approximately 3.3 million American adults. Anxiety disorders affect 40 million American adults, and frequently co-occur with depressive disorders.


'/>"/>

Contact: Cody Mooneyhan
cmooneyhan@faseb.org
301-634-7104
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Scientists decipher fruit tree genome for the first time
2. Scientists discover small RNAs that regulate gene expression and protect the genome
3. Argonne scientists use lasers to align molecules
4. Too hot to handle! Scientists identify heat sensing regulator
5. Scientists dig deeper into the genetics of schizophrenia by evaluating microRNAs
6. Scientists endure Arctic for last campaign prior to CryoSat-2 launch
7. Scientists discover why plague is so lethal
8. UF scientists discover compound that could lead to new blood pressure drugs
9. UIC scientists discover how some bacteria survive antibiotics
10. Scientists aim to boost world energy supplies -- with microbes!
11. Scientists determine drug target for the most potent botulinum neurotoxin
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/4/2017)...   EyeLock LLC , a leader of iris-based ... Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has issued U.S. Patent ... an iris image with a face image acquired in ... 45 th issued patent. "The ... the multi-modal biometric capabilities that have recently come to ...
(Date:3/30/2017)... LOS ANGELES , March 30, 2017  On ... Hack the Genome hackathon at ... This exciting two-day competition will focus on developing health ... experience. Hack the Genome is ... has been tremendous. The world,s largest companies in the ...
(Date:3/30/2017)... -- Trends, opportunities and forecast in this market to ... AFIS, iris recognition, facial recognition, hand geometry, vein recognition, ... industry (government and law enforcement, commercial and retail, health ... and by region ( North America , ... , and the Rest of the World) ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:9/20/2017)... ... September 20, 2017 , ... Cybrexa Therapeutics , ... to the role of chief scientific officer. In this role, Dr. Paralkar will ... president and CEO, Per Hellsund. , “I was impressed with Cybrexa’s revolutionary technology ...
(Date:9/20/2017)... ... September 20, 2017 , ... Proscia Inc. , a ... provider of whole slide imaging solutions, are hosting a pre-conference workshop at the ... Deploying a Best-in-Class Strategy for Digital Pathology,” will feature Proscia CEO, David West ...
(Date:9/20/2017)... ... September 20, 2017 , ... Foresight Institute, a leading ... transformative technologies, announced the winners for the 2017 Foresight Institute Feynman Prizes.These are ... nanotechnology/molecular manufacturing. , Established in 1993 and named in honor of pioneer physicist ...
(Date:9/19/2017)... ... 2017 , ... Participants of this educational webinar will learn ... with the advantages and disadvantages of ductless, filtered fume hoods, they will also ... , Attendees will learn from an industry expert about the different types of ...
Breaking Biology Technology: