Asthma Cure? Pot Smokers Might Not Like This

Catherine Crawford

incenseWe’ve been spending a lot of time indoors lately because of the less than ideal temperature outside. The togetherness is lovely and all that, but there is a byproduct of cozy living that’s not. It can get a little stinky. I like work out videos, my kids like jumping on the bed, we all have feet -- each one of which contributes to an occasional funk.

I had such high hopes for incense to make the house smell nice, and then comes news that kids from incense-burning homes have an increased risk of asthma. Damn!

Sometimes, even in the cold, I can throw open the windows and crank the heater, but not when it’s spitting down slushy snow outside. I’ve also tried every manner of spray (ugg -- I hate the smell of Fabreze), plug-in, decanter, candle, and potpourri. Everything but the candles smell like bathroom cleaner, and the potpourri is just a little too wussy. So, you can imagine my joy when I remembered the incense trick from my college years (um, I’ve been told that it’s great for covering up the stench of spilled bong water).

Jasmine, I love the Jasmine incense. It’s not too heavy and it makes everything, down to our clothes, smell lovely. Asthma, why must you take this away from me?!

The study on the dangers of incense found that among 3,800 middle-school children, 3 percent had asthma, and 5 percent were prone to get wheezy while exercising. The researches figured out that kids whose parents burned incense were 36 percent more likely to have current asthma and 64 percent more likely to wheeze while physically active. Rats!

There is, however, a gene variant that could be affecting these numbers as well. The variant, known as GSTT1, helps to regulate the enzymes that shield our cells from oxidative damage, including the havoc wrecked by second-hand smoke and other horrible chemicals. Turns out, 43 percent of these kids with the breathing problems had no copies of GSTT1. Sounds to me like the incense isn’t helping, but that it’s not solely to blame. Still, until I know if my kids are well stocked in GSTT1, I probably won’t spark up any more Jasmine. My 4-year-old is already a little raspy.

If only I’d known about this as a kid, I would have had a great excuse to get out of church every Sunday. All of that flying frankincense can’t be good for anyone.

Do you burn incense? Are you worried about it?


Image via andersofsydney/Flickr

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