God is that you? No, it’s just the drugs.
Religion is no stranger to drugs, whether it is ethanol in Christianity dating back to AD33, Ayahuasca in the Santo Daime religion dating back to the 1930s, or the current administration of psilocybin to Religious leaders by Johns Hopkins University. There is no shortage of religious ceremonies, which permit the choice to partake in a chemically induced spiritual journey. However, if you have been to a religious ceremony in the past 4000 years you may have consumed a psychoactive substance without even knowing it!
Incensole acetate (IA) is the substance in mention. IA is a macrocyclic diterpenoid, which is the major bioactive constituent found in the resin of trees in the Boswellia species. The Boswellia species has been mentioned in many ancient texts as incense or a main component thereof. It is commonly referred to as frankincense or olibanum. Research by Dr. Arieh Moussaieff has shown incensole acetate to exhibit anti-depressive, anxiolytic, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective effects.
Incensole acetate displays anti-depressant and anxiolytic effects. It is always interesting to find a naturally occurring compound with a long history of use that exhibits positive psychoactive effects. Perhaps the most interesting aspect is the pathway which IA acts on. Researchers found no anti-depressive or anxiolytic effect in mice that lacked the transient receptor potential vanilloid 3 (TRPV3) gene. This allowed for the conclusion that IA elicits its psychoactive effects via TRVP3. TRVP3 is expressed in the skin and in the brain; its most well know function is temperature sensation and its two lesser understood functions are hair growth and mood regulation. IA was also found to have a “robust anti-inflammatory effect” when tested in mice with inflamed paw model.
Incensole Acetate also exhibits many neurological benefits. It has been shown to inhibit hippocampal neurodegeneration. IA was also shown to reduce severity of head injury; in a mouse model of closed head injury, mice showed reduced neurological severity scores and improved cognitive ability. Later research by Dr. Mousaieff shows a decrease in corticotropin releasing factor and up regulation of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This suggests a possible effect on the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis.
The extract of Boswellia serrata gum resin, standardized to 65% organic acids, is currently available through online nutritional supplement vendors. It is available in capsule and liquid forms. The amount of incensole acetate provided from these supplements is unknown. It would be great to see a purified or synthesized version of incensole acetate available as a supplement, nootropic, or “research chemical.”
There is no doubt the work of Dr. Moussaieff has brought the many benefits of this compound to the attention of the scientific community. The information is now in our hands and it will be beneficial to promote interest in this compound.
1. Arieh Moussaieff , Et al. May 2008. Incensole acetate, an incense component, elicits psychoactivity by activating TRPV3 channels in the brain. The Faseb Journal. Vol. 22 #8.
2. Arieh Moussaieff , Et al. December 2007. Incensole Acetate, a Novel Anti-Inflammatory Compound Isolated from Boswellia Resin, Inhibits Nuclear Factor-κB Activation. Molecular Pharmacology. Volume 72 Issue 6.
3. Arieh Moussaieff , Et al. April 2018. Incensole Acetate: A Novel Neuroprotective Agent Isolated from Boswellia Carterii. Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism. Volume 28 Issue 7.