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The ethnobotany of Frankincense


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#1 Gunter

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Posted 24 November 2011 - 07:40 AM

Boswellia is a genus of trees occurring in the family Burseraceae, numerous genera of which have been used for their aromatic, medicinal and psychoactive properties. Frankincense, well known as among the gifts said to have been given to Christ by the magi or three wise men, is a resin that is obtained from a few species of Boswellia. Frankincense is also known as luban and olibanum.

Long ago Frankincense was worth more than gold and to this very day it is used in numerous cultures for a multitude of purposes. It is and has been employed as an incense by a large number of religious and spiritual groups and is considered by some cultures to be sacred and or to have an ability to affect the spirit of the body. The use of luban is ancient and dates back over 5000 years ago.

While many people are familiar with the use of Frankincense as a form of incense, it is less well known in western culture that another use of the plant is as a form of chewing gum. Initially the resinous piney material is fragile and mastication crumbles the plastic like matter, however as the material continues to be chewed it becomes softer and gum like, additionally it releases water soluble material into the saliva, so initially upon chewing the material is highly flavorful and somewhat bitter. After a few minutes of chewing the flavor becomes less intense thought it remains somewhat strong as the resinous material is slightly and slowly absorbed.

Chemically Frankincense is complex as that it is constituted of numerous resinous and aromatic molecules and chemicals. One of these, a compound known as incensole acetate, has recently been claimed to have been identified as a psychoactive drug that relieves depression and anxiety in mice. Frankincense has also seen use as an insect repellent and an anti-inflammatory and seems to have some potential ability to fight cancer, possibly through immunostimulant activity. It has been used to treat and cure a wide variety of illnesses and ailments in numerous cultures and regions across the globe and is widely regarded as a tonic and panacea.

Incensole acetate was specifically found to activate a protein in mice called TRPV3, this protein is common to mammals and is known to be involved in the perception of warmth of the skin. Mice that lacked this protein were not affected by the administration of incensole acetate, however normal mice were affected. It should be considered that this effect is not akin to the psychoactivity that is commonly associated with a sense of high or intoxication, such as with the case with many other psychoactives, rather it affects perception in a more subtle way and it is thought that it may be able to regulate the emotions in some manner through interacting with TRPV3.

I have used luban for about 3 years, both chewing it and burning it as an incense and I find it pleasant and worthwhile. It does seems to a calming and yet mentally stimulating substance, but it does not resemble caffeine or other more common stimulants, it does not for example result in insomnia and seems to prevent rather than promote psychosis.

It has become one of my favorite enthnobotanicals.
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#2 Marcel

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Posted 24 November 2011 - 10:27 AM

Man, I wish I could grow this baby.

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#3 CβL

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Posted 24 November 2011 - 12:00 PM

TRPV3... I know that capsaicin activates TRPV1 receptors, so I wonder if there's any non-linear effects from concomitant imbibition.

P.s. I think that may have been the most impressive sentence I have ever written. :D
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#4 amanito

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 04:30 AM

Hey, I wonder who has taken this herb to combat pain, i'm pretty interested in it.
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#5 Alice

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 09:30 AM

Great post Gunter, can't believe I missed this first time around.

Are all frankincense granules created equal? I'd like to give the chewing a go, is there anything I need to be aware of quality-wise, or can I just hit ebay for any old resin?

#6 amanito

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 10:13 PM

I typed in the latin name on ebay and found resin. Will buy, ground it into capsules and try to use it against FMS-pain. Pretty cheap.
Accept certain inalienable truths, prices will rise, politicians will
philander, you too will get old, and when you do you’ll fantasize
that when you were young prices were reasonable, politicians were
noble and children respected their elders.


Respect your elders.


Free Spore Ring Europe: www.fsre.nl . Leech from us, but also support us !!!