The Science Of Incense And The Brain By Matt Caron

The Power of Incense

If you’ve ever used incense, it may be doing more than just giving you a pleasant smell…

For many thousands of years, incense, and particularly frankincense, have been used in many religious and spiritual practices around the world. In fact, many ceremonies would be incomplete without it. But the use of incense extends far beyond just its ceremonial purposes; science has shown that incense does amazing things to the brain.

SEE ALSO: Is It Wrong To Wear Om?

A Calming Effect

For years, scientists have been curious about what incense does do us. After all, many ancient texts refer to incense being used to help those that are agitated or upset. Frequently, priests and doctors would use the smell of incense, or even its resin, to calm a patient down. Intrigued by this, a group of researchers located primarily in Jerusalem began to put incense under the microscope. And what they found shocked them.

Incense, the Positive Drug

Through experimentation, scientists figured out there was an active compound in incense known as incensole acetate. This compound was then given to mice in a controlled setting. Researchers noticed that the incense compound actually had a dual effect: it was an anti-inflammatory, and it boosted their mood significantly. Armed with this information, they began to probe a little deeper. If it was true that incense had these positive effects on the brain and body, what is the actual mechanism?

It turns out that incense activates areas in the brain that were almost unknown until that point.

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