Frankincense has been the most widely studied essential oil for the potential treatment of many types of cancer in the laboratory. And all Frankincense oils noted in the research is on sale, 20% off!
In every study thus published, Frankincense oil has caused cancerous cells to undergo aptosis (natural cell death) and left healthy cells unaffected.*
To learn more about each of our Frankincense varieties, see our blog post Frankincense Sacra, Carteri or Seratta: The Science and the Scents.
Frankincense has been the subject of research in a number of cancer cell lines, including those of breast1,2,3 bladder4, brain3, and more.
In research, Frankincense essential oil has been evaluated in these studies. One important conclusion is that “Frankincense appears to distinguish between normal cells and suppress cancer cell viability”.
To learn more about each of our distillations, sources and aromas, see ‘Frankincense: The Science and the Scents‘ on our blog.
Below are just a few of the research papers regarding Frankincense and cancer. Many more can be found on www.pubmed.gov.
1. Iran J Pharm Res. 2014 Spring;13(2):719-24.
Boswellia has been widely used in traditional medicine for the treatment of different diseases such as cancer in Iran. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of the gum extract of Boswellia on the viability and P53 gene expression of cultured breast cancer cells. The gum extract was obtained in various concentrations using the maceration method. Normal (HEK-293) and cancer (MDA-MB-231) human cells were cultured and treated with various concentrations of the extract. Then MTT assay was used for the study of cytotoxic effect of the extract and real time PCR method was also applied for the investigation of P53 gene expression in cancer cells. The IC50 of the extract against cancer cells was 80 µg/mL and had less cytotoxic effect in normal cells. The effect of the extract was dose dependent. Induction of P53 expression by extract was also significantly more in treated cancer cells than untreated cells. This inductive effect in cells was higher after 12 h treatment than it was after 6 h. The results of the current study show that gum extract of Boswellia has probably anti-cancer effects and could induce P53 gene transcription and toxicity in the cultured breast cancer cell line. The increase of P53 gene specific mRNA may be a mechanism of gum extract induced cytotoxicity. However, for a definitive conclusion, further studies on other cell lines as well as animal models and subsequent clinical studies are warranted.
2. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011 Dec 15;11:129. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-11-129. Boswellia sacra essential oil induces tumor cell-specific apoptosis and suppresses tumor aggressiveness in cultured human breast cancer cells.
Suhail MM1, Wu W, Cao A, Mondalek FG, Fung KM, Shih PT, Fang YT, Woolley C, Young G, Lin HK.
BACKGROUND:Gum resins obtained from trees of the Burseraceae family (Boswellia sp.) are important ingredients in incense and perfumes. Extracts prepared from Boswellia sp. gum resins have been shown to possess anti-inflammatory and anti-neoplastic effects. Essential oil prepared by distillation of the gum resin traditionally used for aromatic therapy has also been shown to have tumor cell-specific anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic activities. The objective of this study was to optimize conditions for preparing Boswellea sacra essential oil with the highest biological activity in inducing tumor cell-specific cytotoxicity and suppressing aggressive tumor phenotypes in human breast cancer cells.
METHODS: Boswellia sacra essential oil was prepared from Omani Hougari grade resins through hydrodistillation at 78 or 100 °C for 12 hours. Chemical compositions were identified by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry; and total boswellic acids contents were quantified by high-performance liquid chromatography. Boswellia sacra essential oil-mediated cell viability and death were studied in established human breast cancer cell lines (T47D, MCF7, MDA-MB-231) and an immortalized normal human breast cell line (MCF10-2A). Apoptosis was assayed by genomic DNA fragmentation. Anti-invasive and anti-multicellular tumor properties were evaluated by cellular network and spheroid formation models, respectively. Western blot analysis was performed to study Boswellia sacra essential oil-regulated proteins involved in apoptosis, signaling pathways, and cell cycle regulation.
RESULTS: More abundant high molecular weight compounds, including boswellic acids, were present in Boswellia sacra essential oil prepared at 100 °C hydrodistillation. All three human breast cancer cell lines were sensitive to essential oil treatment with reduced cell viability and elevated cell death, whereas the immortalized normal human breast cell line was more resistant to essential oil treatment. Boswellia sacra essential oil hydrodistilled at 100 °C was more potent than the essential oil prepared at 78 °C in inducing cancer cell death, preventing the cellular network formation (MDA-MB-231) cells on Matrigel, causing the breakdown of multicellular tumor spheroids (T47D cells), and regulating molecules involved in apoptosis, signal transduction, and cell cycle progression.
CONCLUSIONS: Similar to our previous observations in human bladder cancer cells, Boswellia sacra essential oil induces breast cancer cell-specific cytotoxicity. Suppression of cellular network formation and disruption of spheroid development of breast cancer cells by Boswellia sacra essential oil suggest that the essential oil may be effective for advanced breast cancer. Consistently, the essential oil represses signaling pathways and cell cycle regulators that have been proposed as therapeutic targets for breast cancer. Future pre-clinical and clinical studies are urgently needed to evaluate the safety and efficacy of Boswellia sacra essential oil as a therapeutic agent for treating breast cancer.
3. J Neurooncol. 2007 Mar;82(1):91-3. Epub 2006 Sep 26. A lipoxygenase inhibitor (Boswellia seratta) in breast cancer brain metastases. Flavin DF.
The complication of multiple brain metastases in breast cancer patients is a life threatening condition with limited success following standard therapies. The arachidonate lipoxygenase pathway appears to play a role in brain tumor growth as well as inhibition of apoptosis in in-vitro studies. The down regulation of these arachidonate lipoxygenase growth stimulating products therefore appeared to be a worthwhile consideration for testing in brain metastases not responding to standard therapy. Boswellia serrata, a lipoxygenase inhibitor was applied for this inhibition. Multiple brain metastases were successfully reversed using this method in a breast cancer patient who had not shown improvement after standard therapy. The results suggest a potential new area of therapy for breast cancer patients with brain metastases that may be useful as an adjuvant to our standard therapy.
4. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2009 Mar 18;9:6. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-9-6. Frankincense oil derived from Boswellia carteri induces tumor cell specific cytotoxicity. Frank MB1, Yang Q, Osban J, Azzarello JT, Saban MR, Saban R, Ashley RA, Welter JC, Fung KM, Lin HK.
BACKGROUND: Originating from Africa, India, and the Middle East, frankincense oil has been important both socially and economically as an ingredient in incense and perfumes for thousands of years. Frankincense oil is prepared from aromatic hardened gum resins obtained by tapping Boswellia trees. One of the main components of frankincense oil is boswellic acid, a component known to have anti-neoplastic properties. The goal of this study was to evaluate frankincense oil for its anti-tumor activity and signaling pathways in bladder cancer cells.
METHODS: Frankincense oil-induced cell viability was investigated in human bladder cancer J82 cells and immortalized normal bladder urothelial UROtsa cells. Temporal regulation of frankincense oil-activated gene expression in bladder cancer cells was identified by microarray and bioinformatics analysis.
RESULTS:Within a range of concentration, frankincense oil suppressed cell viability in bladder transitional carcinoma J82 cells but not in UROtsa cells. Comprehensive gene expression analysis confirmed that frankincense oil activates genes that are responsible for cell cycle arrest, cell growth suppression, and apoptosis in J82 cells. However, frankincense oil-induced cell death in J82 cells did not result in DNA fragmentation, a hallmark of apoptosis.
CONCLUSION:Frankincense oil appears to distinguish cancerous from normal bladder cells and suppress cancer cell viability. Microarray and bioinformatics analysis proposed multiple pathways that can be activated by frankincense oil to induce bladder cancer cell death. Frankincense oil might represent an alternative intravesical agent for bladder cancer treatment.
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.