Frankincense oil has long been treasured for its soothing aroma. What's more, traditional healers have claimed for centuries that frankincense is a natural medicine that can treat a variety of conditions. Now research just published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine demonstrates that the frankincense herb (technically named Boswellia carteri) could be an effective treatment for cancer of the bladder, the organ that stores urine.
A team of scientists from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and the Oklahoma City VA Medical Center evaluated frankincense oil's impact on both normal human bladder cells and cancerous human bladder cells in culture. The results showed the frankincense oil was harmless to the normal cells -- but the natural extract zeroed in and killed the cancer cells.
The research team, headed by Dr. HK Lin, used gene expression analyses to specifically determine how frankincense oil destroyed bladder cancer cells. They discovered that the oil suppressed cancer cell growth and then triggered bladder cancer cell death by activating several cell death pathways.
According to the National Cancer Institute, about 69, 000 Americans were diagnosedwith bladder cancer last year and around 14,000 died from the malignancy. Bladder cancer tends to strike men more often than women and, in fact, it's the fourth most common type of cancer in men in the U.S. "Frankincense oil may represent an inexpensive alternative therapy for patients currently suffering from bladder cancer," Dr HK Lin said in a statement to the media.
Originating from Africa, India, and the Middle East, frankincense oil has been shown to have a host of medicinal benefits in several studies published over the past several years. In research published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Japanese scientists from the Ichimaru Pharcos company documented how active components of the resin of aromatic frankincense oil have anti-inflammatory properties that could be useful for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.
Another Japanese research team from Nihon University in Tokyo found additional remarkable disease-fighting properties in frankincense oil. In a report published in Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin, the scientists revealed components of frankincense not only inhibited the Epstein-Barr virus, but also were shown to be effective against three human neuroblastoma cell lines. Neuroblastoma cancers form in nerve tissue and most often affect small children, usually beginning in the adrenal glands, neck, chest or spine.