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October 26, 2008


Burning Incense Is Psychoactive: New Class Of Antidepressants Might Be Right Under Our Noses


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. 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 study's 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."

「古代のテキストから由来している情報にもかかわらず、精神活性のたのフランキンセンスの成分研究は行われていなかた。」と共同研究者の一人、Raphael Mechoulam,は述べた。 マウスで検査したとき、フランキンセンス樹脂成分、酢酸インセンスオールが不安を低下させて抗うつのような行動を引き起こすことを解明した。明らかに、大部分の現代の礼拝者はインセンスが唯シンボルの意味だと思いこんでいる。

To determine incense's 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 wasn't 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.

「多分、マルクスが宗教はアヘンであると呼んだことはそれほど間違っていなかった。ケシからのモルヒネ、マリファナからのカンナビノイド、およびキノコからのLSD,これらのどれものがひとつまたは他の宗教儀式で使用されてきた。」とThe FASEB Journalの編集長Gerald Weissmann医師は述べた。「それらの向精神薬が如何に効くかを研究することは現代の神経生物学を理解しているのにやくだちます。」

psychoactive drugs 向精神薬

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 religion--burning 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 15--44, 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.


dysthymic disorder 気分変調性障害

incensole acetate(酢酸インセンスオール)の成分は水蒸気蒸留のフランキンセンスには含有されていなくてフランキンセンスCO2(二酸化炭素抽出)には11.4%含有(aromatopia84より)



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