More Americans than ever before are experiencing mental health problems. Whether this is the result of lack of community, stress from everyday life, over-working, diet, living situations, or a plethora of other circumstances, it isn’t going to disappear anytime soon.
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 nearly 14.8 million American adults. Anxiety disorders also affect over 40 million American adults and frequently co-occur with depressive disorders (1).
Stress is something that plagues all of us at some point in our lives. It’s how you deal with that stress that makes a difference in your long-term health.
Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications may work short-term, but they can cause a wide variety of health problems, like jitteriness, decreased sexual desire, nausea, weight gain, and insomnia (2).
It is for these facts alone people are starting to say no, and turning to natural solutions like St. John’s Wort, SAMe, tryptophan, and turmeric, as well as calming practices like breathing techniques, exercise, yoga, meditation, and simply learning to slow down in this fast-paced world we live in.
Frankincense Instead of Pills
According to a new study from John Hopkins University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Frankincense, an age-old incense, may possess some healing abilities when it comes to easing a stressful mind.
Frankincense is the dried resin of Boswellia trees that originate from Northeastern Africa, near the Red Sea.
It has been used traditionally for relieving inflammation and pain, eliminating phlegm in the lungs and protecting the liver and kidneys against damage. It has even been shown to to possess cancer-killing properties, and has been referenced as a potential treatment for brain, breast, colon, pancreatic, prostate and stomach cancers (3). According to researchers at Baylor University Medical Centre in Dallas, the cancer-killing properties of frankincense are due to its ability to regulate epigenetic machinery, which essentially means that it influences our genes to promote internal healing.
That’s not all frankincense does. In fact, it has been found to activate poorly understood ion channels in the brain to help alleviate anxiety or depression (4). The team that facilitated this study found that the incensole acetate affects areas of the brain that aid in emotion regulation, specifically activating the protein TRPV3. This protein is found in the brains of mammals, which is known to play a role in the skin’s perception of warmth. This may also explain its ability to balance emotions and relax the mind.
The anti-inflammatory properties of frankincense (5), also help counter inflammation caused by chronic stress, which is linked to depression and other mood-related conditions.
How To Use Frankincense
The best way to use frankincense is by diffusing it. Our olfactory bulb (the whole reason we pick up scent) runs directly from your nose, to your brain. The olfactory bulb is connected to the amygdala and hippocampus, the centres of the brain in charge of emotion and memory. That’s why when you smell something familiar, you can trigger a memory that can go as far back as your childhood – pretty crazy, huh?
Investing in a high quality diffuser and dropping around 10 drops of frankincense essential oil is a great way to start reaping this resins’ mood-boosting effects. You can also burn the resin, too!
The Best Frankincense To Buy
Before using frankincense, make sure you purchase a high-quality oil. Many companies out there produce cheap essential oils that contain little, if any, of the mood-boosting benefits this resin has to offer.
Brands that I like are Aura Cacia, Mountain Rose Herbs, and Plant Therapy. Instead of the essential oil, you can also purchase pure frankincense resin, and Mountain Rose Herbs carries a good high-quality organic resin.