I feel a special regard for ancient and traditional health remedies, especially one that’s been around since the Bronze Age. That’s the case for frankincense, which has been traded on the Arabian Peninsula for more than 6,000 years.
The very word frankincense means “high quality incense.” Its fragrance is a blend of piney, lemony scents melded with a sweet, woody aroma that fills traditional ritual churches on holy days like Easter and Christmas. Church-going folks also know it as one of the three gifts of the Magi to the infant Jesus.
But there’s more to love about this oil than its famous fragrance. I take one of its derivatives every single day as a pain-killer and anti-inflammatory – and, yes, to protect myself against cancer. . .
Frankincense is a product of scraggly trees of the genus Boswellia. They grow mostly in India and Africa. When the bark is slashed from the tree, resin bleeds out and hardens into little rock-like nuggets. It’s these hardened streaks of resin, called tears, which are harvested and sold.
Within the tears of resin are active components called boswellic acids, which show promise against brain, prostate, bladder, cervical, and colon cancers, as well as multiple myeloma (bone marrow cancer).
The ability to fight inflammation is the main mechanism behind the healing properties of boswellic acid. This has important implications for cancer treatment, as a large number of studies have linked inflammation to cancer.
Here’s just a glimpse of the many ways boswellic acid helps curb inflammation:
- It inhibits 5-lipooxygenase (5-LOX) – an inflammatory enzyme — and may also target free radicals and cytokines that play a role in inflammation.
- In animal experiments, a boswellic acid called AKBA stands above the rest because it slashed precancerous polyps by 49% in the small intestine and by 60% in the colon. Better yet, it kept them from turning malignant.
- AKBA seems to stop cancer cell proliferation in several ways, most notably by inducing apoptosis – programmed cell death – by switching on the aptly named “death receptor” on cancer cell surfaces. This activates the “suicide” pathways inside cancer cells and blocks the signals cancer cells use to replicate.
- Boswellic acids help decrease brain swelling from glioblastoma, a deadly brain cancer. This means a patient may require fewer anti-inflammatory drugs. The frankincense extract can reduce or replace steroid use in brain tumors, which is important because steroids interfere with the natural death of the cancer cells. Boswellia also kills glioblastoma cells outright.
- Boswellia halts the damage caused by the 5-LOX immune system molecule, which goes rogue in certain types of cancer. In prostate tissue, 5-LOX contributes to inflammation and prostate swelling as well as cancer.
- Boswellic acids also shut down the master inflammation regulatory complex NF-kappaB in tumor cells, bringing about early tumor death and regression.
- Finally, some studies suggest that boswellia may reduce inflammation or swelling due to radiation therapy, but more studies are needed to confirm this.
To underscore the point: Reducing inflammation is one of the most important preventive strategies against cancer. But boswellic acids don’t stop there. Boswellia is also known to suppress a tumor growth factor called VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) that cancers need to grow new blood vessels.
In addition, it may suppress tumor growth in pancreatic and colorectal cancers, and in some cases may outright prevent tumor growth (prostate and glioma). In lab-cultured pancreatic cancer cells, boswellic acid has been shown to suppress viability and induce cell death.
And in bladder cancer, boswellia has been shown to selectively kill cancer cells and leave the healthy ones alone. The compounds are able to discern the difference between healthy and cancerous tissue, so they quell tumor cells but spare normal ones.
“One of the most promising natural anticancer agents”
Overall, therapeutic success rates for cancer can improve dramatically with the use of boswellic acids. In fact, they currently are considered “one of the most promising anticancer agents” according to an article published in the Journal of Medical Sciences. They target multiple molecular and cellular pathways in cancer with few adverse side effects.
Plus, when you take safety and toxicity into account, boswellic acids are relatively safe. I don’t know that the word “relatively” is even needed there. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been taking it for years.
Boswellia supplements are readily available on the Web and sometimes in retail health stores. If you’d like to try the one offered by our sister company, Green Valley Natural Solutions, click Triple Joint Relief. Triple Joint Relief combines boswellia with a milk thistle derivative called silymarin. The combination of the two herbs is much more potent than either one alone.
Green Valley, of course, does not claim Triple Joint Relief is a cancer treatment. Much more extensive testing would have to be done to confirm that, and in any case, the effective boswellia doses for cancer have not been established even in the limited testing that has been done. As I’ve often recommended, an effective alternative cancer program should consist of not just one, but many different therapies used at once.
According to some sources, boswellia can stimulate blood flow in the pelvis and uterus, potentially increasing menstrual flow. It’s not recommended if you’re pregnant or at risk of miscarriage (this is true of nearly all natural remedies – it’s not likely that there is any danger to pregnant women but we simply can’t be sure because no tests have been conducted on this specific group).
- “Boswellia.” Retrieved 18 April 2019. Purported Uses. https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/boswellia
- “Boswellic Acids in Chronic Inflammatory Diseases.” By H.P.T. Ammon, Planta Medica 2006; 72(12): 1100-1116. https://www.thieme-connect.com/products/ejournals/html/10.1055/s-2006-947227
- “Can frankincense treat cancer?” By Zawn Villines for Medical News Today, 24 September 2018. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/314366.php
- “Can Frankincense Treat Cancer?” By Traci Angel for Healthline, 7 July 2016. https://www.healthline.com/health/cancer/frankincense-and-cancer
- “Top 11 Reasons to Start Using Frankincense Oil.” By Dr. Joseph Mercola https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2019/01/10/frankincense-essential-oil.aspx
- “Frankincense.” Retrieved 20 April 2019. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankincense
- Neeta and Harish Dureja, 2014. Role of Boswellic Acids in Cancer Treatment. Journal of Medical Sciences, 14: 261-269. https://scialert.net/fulltext/?doi=jms.2014.261.269