Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Frankincense oil; frankly... quite good.

I've recently seen someone close to me being affected by cancer. The word itself destroys lives, not only because of what comes with the real package but mainly due to the fearful days that poison one's mind with all the drama that is to be lived upon.

For the obvious reasons I will not disclose private details; I trust this blog's audience's common sense in what I consider to be terrible news, nonetheless, it is always so very important that prior to any medicinal prescription, either remedies or therapies, keeping positive along the way. One needs to make friends and relatives or whomsoever might be suffering from such ailment, positive that he/she will beat the disease, and give the person that self-consciousness of the importance of the person's presence in all our lives.

Now, right after we were stricken by such tough news, we immediately ran to books, articles online, websites, anything that could give us an indication of how to improve the capacity of resistance of a person affected by bladder cancer, against the progress of the disease. Immediately, pretty much as 90% of the pages found, at least those that won't sell you a fake cure for thousands of pounds and also your dignity, mentioned Frankincense Oil. I did not know what Frankincense oil is, but I was sure willing to.

It happens that Frankincense oil has been believed by many cultures world spread of its power as a natural healer, not for decades but for centuries now. Carrying a soothing aroma this organic product has been proved to be of great help when treating a number of conditions, and among these one can find bladder cancer. Research published in 2009 by the BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine explains how this oil obtained from Boswellia carteri trees found in Africa, Middle East and India, that has been used for centuries in the making of incense and perfumes shows positive results in the treatment of specific tumor cell toxicity [1].

One of the several components in the oil obtained by this plant is an acid, the boswellic acid, an acid known to possess antineoplastic properties with apoptosis of cancer cells, thus preventing proliferation of malignant cells with irregular growth. Frankincense oil is obtained from the resinous gum of the aforementioned tree. The acid is obtained as an extract of the plant, usually with a range of acid per extract of around 1/1.55 and is sold everywhere throughout the web for an average price of $35 for 100 pills, 90 capsules for $22, but there is also the liquid extract available in the market. My role here is not to sell the product, but read about the true capacity of this extract to promote apoptosis of cancer cells.

Frank et al (2009) delivers a good research paper on the role of this extract in promoting apoptosis of cells affected by irregular growth. His team studied a human established bladder cancer cell line and applied micro-array and bioinformatics in the gathering of results. By studying a range of concentrations of Boswellic acid against the malignant cells, Frank et al discovered that Frankincense oil thus indeed suppress cell viability in J-82's blader carcinoma cell line, something that did not happen with the normal UROtsa cell line (an immortalised cell culture model of human urothelium) [2].

Frank's team unveiled this oil's property of gene activation after an in-depth gene expression analysis of genes responsible for cell cycle growth, death, suppression and arrest. From cytokines, to kinases, peptidases, phosphatases, and membrane receptors, a long chain of interlinked genes were studied. In an incredibly straightforward paper, excellent even for those who are not familiar with hardcore molecular biology, but can mildly understand the concepts of up- and down-regulation, the turning on and off of genes and the consequences of proteins being expressed, this incredibly interesting paper reveals it all.

Even though Frankincense oil does not end up in cancer cells having their DNA broken down by fragmentation (a clear signal of cell death) in J-82 bladder cancer cells, it does promote activation of genes responsible for a normalisation of the cell cycle, thus demonstrating its power as a weapon to tackle early rather than at a late stage, the irregular progress of abnormal malignant cells. In this very paper one can find a series of genes that were activated or repressed by the Boswellic acid, but because this is an open access article I took the liberty to add an image from it to this post. Because for those who are not familiar with genetics, an image can make the whole difference. 

In the figure on the side it is visible that treated abnormal cells regain a normal shape and proliferation status; in addition the control used show that no normal cells happen to be affected and therefore acknowledge a safety pattern that shall always be present in studies evaluation of the role of anti-malignant proliferation  remedies.

I took some time off my presentation that is due to happen tomorrow just because I felt quite emotially connected to this subject. I hope that for all of those who read this article and find it interesting, and that for some reason are directly or indirectly affected by this problem, it works as some kind of honest hope that a nearly diagnostic with an early prophylaxis help save lives.

A huge hug to all of those who keep giving sense to this blog and to my life.

[1] Frank, M. B., Yang, Q., Osban, J., Azzarello, J. T., Saban, M. R., Saban, R., Ashley, R. A., Welter, J. C., Fung, K. M., Lin, H. K. (2009). "Frankincense oil derived from Boswellia carteri induces tumor cells specific cytotoxicity". BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 9(6). pp. 1-11.

[2] Rossi, M. R., Masters, J. R., Park, S., Todd, J. H., Garret, S. H., Sens, M. A., Somji, S., Nath, J., Sens, D. A. (2001). "The immortalized UROtsa cell line as a potential cell culture model of human urothelium". Environmental Health Perspectives, 109(8), pp. 801-808.

Image 1 from unknown source.

Image 2 taken from HN Online store, [http://www.herbana.eu/essential-oils/108-frankincense-olibanum-essential-oil-boswellia-carteri.html], last visited on the 13th of November 2013, last update unknown.

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