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:4/26/2016)... and LONDON , ... Finacle, part of EdgeVerve Systems, a product subsidiary ... Onegini today announced a partnership to integrate the ...      (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20151104/283829LOGO ) ... provide their customers enhanced security to access and ...
(Date:4/15/2016)... , April 15, 2016  A new ... make more accurate underwriting decisions in a fraction ... timely, competitively priced and high-value life insurance policies ... screenings. With Force Diagnostics, rapid testing ... lifestyle data readings (blood pressure, weight, pulse, BMI, ...
(Date:4/13/2016)...  IMPOWER physicians supporting Medicaid patients in ... standard in telehealth thanks to a new partnership with ... IMPOWER patients can routinely track key health measurements, such ... and, when they opt in, share them with IMPOWER ... local retail location at no cost. By leveraging this ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... In a new case report published ... how a patient who developed lymphedema after being treated for breast cancer benefitted from ... the paradigm for dealing with this debilitating, frequent side effect of cancer treatment. ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. , June 23, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... offering new biological discoveries to the medical community, has ... and co-founder Matthew Nunez . "We ... provide us with the capital we need to meet ... funding will essentially provide us the runway to complete ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... On Wednesday, June 22, 2016, the NASDAQ Composite ... Jones Industrial Average edged 0.27% lower to finish at 17,780.83; ... has initiated coverage on the following equities: Infinity Pharmaceuticals Inc. ... NKTR ), Aralez Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ARLZ ), ... more about these stocks by accessing their free trade alerts ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... Regulatory Compliance Associates® Inc. ... a free webinar on Performing Quality Investigations: Getting to Root Cause. ... at no charge. , Incomplete investigations are still a major concern to the ...
Breaking Biology Technology: