Over many centuries, Frankincense oil has been found to have medicinal benefits. Now, an enriched extract of the Somalian Frankincense herb (Boswellia carteri) has been shown to kill off bladder cancer cells growing in culure. Research presented in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine demonstrates that this herb has the potential to become an alternative therapy for bladder cancer.
Originating from Africa, India, and the Middle East, this herb has a variety of sub-species types, and the oil tested in this research study was that originating from B. carteri. There is quite a history of using Frankincense oil in Ayurvedic medicine as well.
Bladder cancer is twice as common in males as it is in females and it is the fourth most frequently diagnosed type of cancer (in the USA) in men, while in the UK it is the seventh most common cause of death amongst males.
Dr. H.K. Lin and his team, from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and Oklahoma City VA Medical Center, set out to evaluate Frankincense oil for its anti-tumor activity in bladder cancer cells growing in culture. The authors investigated the effects of the oil in two different types of cells: human bladder cancer cells and normal bladder cells. What was most interesting was that the team found frankincense oil is able to discriminate between normal and cancerous bladder cells in culture where it specifically killed cancer cells.
Gene expression analyses were performed to determine how Frankincense oil affects bladder cancer cell survival. The team found that the oil suppresses cancer cell growth by arresting cell-cycle progression and induces bladder cancer cell death by activating multiple cell death (apoptosis) pathways. In other words, it tricks cancer cells into killing themselves.
“Frankincense oil may represent an inexpensive alternative therapy for patients currently suffering from bladder cancer,” said the author, Dr. Lin. Knowing that cells in culture do not always operate the same way in the body, I expect that there will need to be considerably more work before practitioners are using this alternative remedy or pharmaceutical companies are developing a chemical spin-off which they can patent.