Spice for the Spirits

By Barbra Annino

Frankincense has infused houses of worship for centuries with its heavenly aroma, so it’s not all that surprising to learn new research has proven the scent can, indeed, raise your spirits. Scientists at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland and Hebrew University in Jerusalem found that incensole acetate, a compound in frankincense resin, simulates production of a protein called TRPV3, which elevates mood by affecting the areas of the brain that respond to anxiety and depression drugs. “Burning the resin produces the strongest mood-elevating results, as the effects of inhaling the smoke are immediate,” says Ruth Knill, PhD, a licensed acupuncturist. If incense isn’t for you, light a frankincense-infused candle, add 10 drops of the essential oil to a bath, or dab a few drops (diluted with a carrier oil) onto your wrist.