I love aromatherapy especially because of its pallative properties. The BBC just wrote about a new study where doctors think that frankincense could help stop the growth of cancer cells. Here is a fascinating excerpt of the longer article:
The records show that frankincense was produced here as far back as 7,000 BC. According to Matthew's Gospel in the Bible, the Wise Men brought it as a gift to the infant Jesus. Gold: for a king. Frankincense: for God. Myrrh: to embalm Jesus' body after death.
Today, immunologist Mahmoud Suhail is hoping to open a new chapter in the history of frankincense. Scientists have observed that there is some agent within frankincense which stops cancer spreading, and which induces cancerous cells to close themselves down.
Cancer starts when the DNA code within the cell's nucleus becomes corrupted and it seems frankincense has a re-set function. It can tell the cell what the right DNA code should be. Frankincense separates the 'brain' of the cancerous cell - the nucleus - from the 'body' - the cytoplasm, and closes down the nucleus to stop it reproducing corrupted DNA codes.
Working with frankincense could revolutionise the treatment of cancer. Currently, with chemotherapy, doctors blast the area around a tumour to kill the cancer, but that also kills healthy cells, and weakens the patient. Treatment with frankincense could eradicate the cancerous cells alone and let the others live. The task now is to isolate the agent within frankincense which, apparently, works this wonder. Some ingredients of frankincense are allergenic, so you cannot give a patient the whole thing.
Dr Suhail (who is originally from Iraq) has teamed up with medical scientists from the University of Oklahoma for the task. In his laboratory in Salalah, he extracts the essential oil from locally produced frankincense. Then, he separates the oil into its constituent agents, such as Boswellic acid. "There are 17 active agents in frankincense essential oil," says Dr Suhail. "We are using a process of elimination. We have cancer sufferers - for example, a horse in South Africa - and we are giving them tiny doses of each agent until we find the one which works." "Some scientists think Boswellic acid is the key ingredient. But I think this is wrong. Many other essential oils - like oil from sandalwood - contain Boswellic acid, but they don't have this effect on cancer cells. So we are starting afresh."
The trials will take months to conduct and whatever results come out of them will take longer still to be verified. But this is a blink of the eye in the history of frankincense. Nine thousand years ago, Omanis gathered it and burnt it for its curative and cleansing properties. It could be a key to the medical science of tomorrow.