Is Frankincense an Effective Cancer Treatment?

 Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Frankincense is an aromatic resin derived from trees that belong to the Burseraceae family. It’s an ingredient in perfumes and incense. For thousands of years, frankincense was used in traditional medicine. It helps alleviate inflammatory symptoms. Now modern scientific studies link frankincense to cancer treatment.

The Boswellia tree that frankincense is derived from has four different species. Each one produces a different grade of the frankincense resin. The grade of the resin will depend on the time frankincense was harvested.

A study conducted by Dr. HK Lin, Ph.D., director of the regenerative medicine says some types of Frankincense resins contain potent anti-cancer compounds. These compounds could be instrumental in curing cancer. This isn’t exactly news to the Chinese. In ancient Chinese medicine, frankincense has been used for cancer treatment. And they are still using it today.

Unlike chemotherapy wherein healthy cells are killed alongside cancer cells, a cancer treatment made from frankincense will be non-toxic to healthy cells. If such drug is developed, it will eliminate the usual side effects associated with chemotherapy.

Treating Prostate Cancer

There are many studies that reinforce the link between cancer cure and frankincense. A study published in Molecular Pharmacology’s March 2010 issue, Dr. Aydee C. Estrada said active compounds found in frankincense help prevent prostate cancer. These compounds are called tirucallic acids.

Tirucallic acid extracted from frankincense successfully killed cultured prostate cancer cells. The cultured cancer cells were grafted experimentally into mice. By triggering apoptosis, researchers saw a remarkable improvement in lab mice afflicted with prostate cancer. Apoptosis refers to a cell process that generates cellular death. It is a process that most types of cancers were able to avoid.

According to the World Health Organization or WHO, prostate cancer is one of the top five most common cancer sites in men.

Treating Leukemia

A separate study also suggests that frankincense extracts could treat acute myeloid leukemia or AML. Acute myeloid leukemia is a type of cancer that affects the bone marrow. It starts when white blood cells turn into cancer cells. The study was published in the March 2005 issue of Molecular Cancer Therapy. The research was headed by Dr. Lijuan Xia. In his report, Dr. Xia says that laboratory experiments show frankincense extracts successfully triggered apoptosis. It increased the death of cancerous cells by about 20%.

Treating Bladder Cancer

In another study published in March 2009 issue of BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, researchers found that frankincense extracts help eradicate cancer cells in the bladder. The research was headed by Dr. Mark Barton Frank. He said that lab testing shows frankincense extracts killed cancer cells in the bladder without affecting healthy cells.

Treating Ovarian Cancer

A research conducted by health experts from the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom also studied how the compound acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid treat late-stage ovarian cancer. Acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid is a compound found in extracts of frankincense.

According to WHO, cancer is the leading cause of death in the world. In 2012, more than 8.2 million people died of cancer. Some types of cancers have high chances of being cured as long as the patient get proper treatment.


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