New research suggests that religious leaders may have been sitting on a potential treatment for depression all along. Even hippies seem to have caught on to the healing powers of incense long before the academic world.
A team of researchers from John Hopkins University and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem studied the psychoactive effects of burning incense. Researcher, Raphael Mechoulam "found that incensole acetate, a Boswellia resin constituent, when tested in mice lowers anxiety and causes antidepressive-like behavior". Specifically, this constituent activates the TRPV3 protein in areas of the brain that are associated with emotions and nerves. These areas are the same as those already being activated by current medication in use for the treatment of depression and anxiety. Evidently, mice bred without this protein were not affected by the incense.
Although, the idea seems rather harmless in comparison to many of the medications on the market at this time, I have to wonder whether or not this might be a better alternative to medication. I am not convinced that this treatment holds much weight when considering the possible health risks associated with daily doses of incense inhalation in order to sufficiently reduce anxiety and depression.