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Frankincense: A Powerful Gift (editor`s note: Brain tumor related)

Posted on: 12/23/2005

Frankincense: A Powerful Gift (editor's note: Brain tumor related)

POSTED: 11:49 pm EST December 22, 2005

UPDATED: 12:10 am EST December 23, 2005

Most people know the story of the three wise men who offered gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to baby Jesus. It now turns out that one of these centuries-old gifts has a scientific purpose.

Frankincense, the hardened sap of an African tree, has a history of healing wounds. And now Cleveland Clinic researchers are studying whether frankincense can help people with brain tumors.

"The primary goal of this study is to reduce swelling of the brain around the tumor," Dr. Mladen Golubic, of the Cleveland Clinic.

Golubic knows a compound in frankincense helps fight swelling. He wants to know if a few teaspoons of frankincense a day, along with a low-fat, vegetarian diet, can reduce the swelling that happens to brain tumor patients. This swelling is linked to muscle weakness, nausea, dizziness and headaches.

Right now, people with brain tumors are commonly prescribed steroids to reduce swelling. While these drugs can be effective, Golubic says side effects include brittle bones, weight gain, and gastro-intestinal problems.

"So what we wanted to do to provide patients with some sense of control, so they become active in their care," said Golubic.

Seventy people will be enrolled in the frankincense study. Results won't be known for at least two and a half years.

"Hopefully, patients will have better quality of life," said Golubic.

Although this study on brain tumors won't be known for a while, studies conducted overseas have shown frankincense can help people with colitis and other intestinal problems.

© 2005 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved

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