According to the 2014 Essential Oils Desk Reference, the Weizmann Institute of Science, in its newsletter Interface, an Israeli researcher named Arieh Moussaieff said of frankincense, “…the (boswellia) resin (has) antidepressant and anti-anxiety properties and, investigating further, (researchers) found that they act on a previously unknown pathway in the brain that regulates emotion.
These findings not only help explain the ubiquity of frankincense in religion, they also hint that the active compounds may be used in the future to treat any number of neurological symptoms.
From the Selection of Traditional Applications to the Novel Phytotherapy for the Prevention and Treatment of Serious Diseases, which was published in the Journal of Traditional Complementary Medicine in 2013, the authors cited a number of studies that show that frankincense may improve memory. This is good news for people with neurological Lyme symptoms, who often battle memory and cognitive issues.
The authors write, “The effect of frankincense is remarkable in increasing the number of dendritic segments and branching in the neuron cells of hippocampus, causing more synaptic connections in that area and, therefore, improvement of learning and memory.
Further, according to Essential Oils Desk Reference, studies have shown that a compound of frankincense resin protects the nervous system and that many of the biochemicals in essential oils, particularly sesquiterpenes, can increase blood oxygen levels in the brain and release negative emotions that have been stored there. Many people with Lyme disease are hypoxic; that is, their body and brain don’t receive enough oxygen due to hypercoagulation and other factors. Frankincense may therefore help to increase oxygenation, while also facilitating the release of negative emotions, which are another common factor in Lyme.
Another way in which frankincense may assist with the emotions is by calming and sedating the nervous system through compounds called aldehydes and esters. It may therefore alleviate anxiety that results from inflammation, pathogens and other factors.
In addition, its anti-inflammatory effects may improve the body’s response to other antimicrobial treatments, support a healthy immune response, and help to quell symptoms of pain and fatigue, among other issues. One type of frankincense, called Frereana Frankincense (or Boswellia Frereana) has been shown in studies to reduce arthritis symptoms, which are also common in some people with Lyme.
Finally, a review published in 2013 in the Journal of Traditional Complementary Medicine describes the antimicrobial and other effects of the compounds found in frankincense. The review states, “The essential oil isolated from the oleogum resin of B. carterii (boswellia carterii) has been found to have antimicrobial activities against various microorganisms such as fungi, and gram-positive and gram-negative bacterial strains. In a study, the antibacterial activity of boswellic acids was tested in vitro on a group of clinically significant gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. Among the boswellic acids, AKBA was the most active inhibitor of bacterial pathogens.”
While no studies have been specifically done to show its effects upon Lyme pathogens, anecdotal evidence suggests that it may be useful in the treatment of Lyme-related microbes, including mold and candida, and perhaps some bacteria.