Frankincense: Good Enough for Baby Jesus, Good Enough for Your Ovaries

Illustration for article titled Frankincense: Good Enough for Baby Jesus, Good Enough for Your Ovaries

Frankincense always seemed like one of the lesser gifts the three wise men gave to baby Jesus—certainly not as good as gold—but new research suggests that the aromatic resin can effectively kill ovarian cancer cells. So it's not that lame after all.


Researchers from Leicester University found that AKBA (acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid), a chemical compound in the resin, was effective in killing ovarian cancer cells in vitro.

"What has been most surprising is that the cells we have tested which are resistant to chemotherapy have shown to be more sensitive to this compound, suggesting frankincense may indeed be able to help overcome drug resistance."


Ovarian cancer is particularly dangerous because it's difficult to diagnose in its early stages, meaning that it's pretty far advanced once it is discovered. Researchers said that AKBA has the ability to fight ovarian cancer in its last stage, and hope that it can develop into an alternative treatment to the disease.

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As a cancer researcher, I've gotta say that this is actually pretty impressive. This seems to kill cancer with a certain degree of selectivity, meaning that there is relatively toxicity to normal cells, i.e. the reason why going on chemo makes you feel like shit. There was another study earlier this year using xenograft tumors in mice, and it significantly reduced tumor volume without any significant side-toxicity. So while this probably won't work well as a treatment on its own, the apparent selectively of the treatment is very interesting.