"Burning the resin of a Boswellia tree as an incense has been a component in religious and cultural ceremony for milennia, for it is said that its aroma contributes to spiritual exaltation. Also known as frankincense and olibanum, Boswellia resin has been mentioned in numerous ancient texts including the old testament for its mystical capabilities and continues to have its place in some spiritual practices today. An international team of scientists including researchers from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and Johns Hopkins University set out to understand how this age-old practice produces these mysterious psychoactive effects.
To observe the incense’s psychoactive effects, the researchers administered incensole acetate, the primary constituent of the Boswellia resin, to mice. The team found that the incensole acetate affects areas of the brain that aid in emotion regulation, specifically activating the protein TRPV3, a protein found within mammalian brains that is known to play a role in the skin’s perception of warmth. This effect on the mind has a powerful anti-depressant and anxiolytic effect that can leave one in an almost vulnerable state of relaxation where one can lay their mind to rest and simply perceive."