>> Research Studies >> Anti-cancer

Can Frankincense and Myrrh Treat Cancer?

Frankincense oil is a natural remedy that comes from the resin of the Boswellia tree.  People have used it in traditional medicine for centuries, and some say that it can offer numerous health benefits, including cancer treatment. It has a long history in myth and folk medicine, especially in India and African countries. In the Bible, it is one of three gifts that the wise men offered to Jesus, possibly because of its apparent healing powers.

Substances that occur in frankincense have a number of possible health benefits.  These include controlling bleeding, speeding up the wound-healing process, improving oral health, fighting inflammatory conditions such as pain relief, and improving uterine health.

Studies have suggested that certain substances in frankincense may be useful as a cancer treatment. Current research is limited, but early results appear promising.

Below we will look at some clinical research studies why frankincense and myrrh might help treat cancer.


Frankincense and Inflammation

Frankincense contains boswellic acid, which may help fight inflammation.  Inflammation causes redness, swelling, and heat. It happens after an injury and during many illnesses.  The body uses inflammation to fight infection. When inflammation occurs, the body produces white blood cells as part of its defense mechanism. Inflammation also causes swelling, redness, and pain. Long-term inflammation, especially when it occurs in multiple areas of the body, is associated with a wide range of health issues, such as arthritis. In 2006, a study published in Planta Medica showed a number of ways the boswellic acid in frankincense might fight inflammation.  The authors noted that Boswellic acid inhibits 5-lipoxygenase, and it might also target free radicals and cytokines. All of these play a role in inflammation.  The role of frankincense in reducing inflammation could have important implications for cancer treatment. A number of studies have linked inflammation to cancer.  Below we highlight some exciting studies with frankincense and synergies it has with myrrh. 


The Synergies of Frankincense and Myrrh

In Chinese medicine, frankincense and myrrh have been combined as drug pairs in the same prescription for thousands of years, and their combination has a better therapeutic effect on diseases than a single drug.

In the past, most of the studies on frankincense and myrrh focused on single medicines, and all aspects of research were relatively in-depth. However, in recent years, with the rise of network sciences such as systems biology and network pharmacology, drug combination has become a hot topic in modern drug research and a new trend in the development of modern drugs.

After the combination of frankincense and myrrh forms a blend, a series of changes take place in their chemical composition, such as the emergence of new chemical components. At the same time, the pharmacological effects of the combination seem magically powerful, such as synergistic anti-inflammation, synergistic anticancer, synergistic analgesic, synergistic antibacterial, synergistic blood-activation, and so on.  Frankincense and myrrh synergy study details:  [1], [2]. 


Frankincense and Myrrh Clinical Research  

Frankincense and Myrrh inhibiting proliferation of myeloma cells.

Research findings indicate that frankincense and myrrh extracts taken together have ability to prevent proliferation of multiple myeloma cells (abnormal white blood cells) that multiply in the bone marrow resulting in bone tumors.
Study info.


Myrrh as an anti-cancer agent

A study published in 2013 tested compounds derived from myrrh in the laboratory. The researchers found that the compounds inhibited the proliferation of prostate cancer cells.  Study info.

Preventing/treating human gynecologic cancer cells with myrrh

Myrrh oleo-gum resin has shown ability to prevent/treat gynecological cancer cells. This is according to the findings of a study conducted by XYZ. In the study, the researchers explored the cytotoxicity effects of extracts derived from the resin of Commiphora myrrha. The results indicated that the extract obtained from Commiphora myrrha contained diterpene resin acid, which had ability to prevent proliferation of human gynecological cancer cell lines

Journal of Medicinal Plants Research, 5(8), 1382-1389.


Myrrh effectiveness treating prostate cancer

This study looked specifically at sesquiterpenoids extracted from myrrh.

Sesquiterpenoids are compounds widely found in plants and animals. They often function as defensive chemicals or pheromones.

The researchers found that these compounds inhibited androgen receptor signaling — a mechanism that supports the growth and migration of prostate cancer.

The authors conclude that “sesquiterpenoids could be developed as novel therapeutic agents for treating prostate cancer.”
Study info.

Frankincense essential oil suppresses melanoma cancer

An in-vitro study suggested that the essential oil from boswellia may impair the growth of skin cancer cells without causing any damage to the liver and healthy cells nearby.  Study info.

Evidence of anti-tumor properties of boswellia serrata

Frankincense is a promising candidates for anticancer drug development.  A 2016 study reports that boswellia exhibits antitumor properties and may be toxic to cancerous cells.  Study info.