Frankincense is probably best known as one of the gifts the Magi brought to the baby Jesus. However, frankincense is a lot more than an ancient and obscure oil. Read on for other uses and benefits of this incredible oil!
Frankincense, also known as olibanum, comes from the Boswellia genus trees, particularly Boswellia sacra and Boswellia carteri. The milky white sap is extracted from the tree bark, allowed to harden into a gum resin for several days and then scraped off in tear-shaped droplets.
Boswellia trees grow in African and Arabian regions, including Yemen, Oman, Somalia and Ethiopia. Oman is the best known and most ancient source of frankincense where it has been traded and shipped to other places like the Mediterranean, India and China for thousands of years.
Here is a video on how they harvest frankincense:
The highest-quality frankincense is clear and silvery but with a slight green tinge. Brown-yellow varieties are the cheapest and most readilyavailable. In Oman, the best frankincense is usually reserved for the sultan and is rarely shipped out of the country.
Frankincense is traditionally burned as incense, and was charred and ground into a powder to produce the heavy kohl eyeliner used by Egyptian women. Today, this resin is steam-distilled to produce an aromatic essential oil with many benefits.
Frankincense oil has a woody, earthy, spicy and slightly fruity aroma, which is calming and relaxing. It’s said to be sweeter, fresher and cleaner than frankincense resin.
If it weren’t for its mention in the Bible (and in many Christmas movies, stories and songs), very few people in western culture would probably know about frankincense. Have you ever wondered what the significance of this gift was?
Were the gifts of the magi meant to save Jesus from the pain of arthritis? It’s possible, according to researchers at Cardiff University in Wales who have been studying the medical uses of frankincense.
Since the early days of Christianity, Biblical scholars and theologians have offered varying interpretations of the meaning and significance of the gold, frankincense and myrrh oil that the magi presented to Jesus, according to the Gospel of Matthew (2:11). These valuable items were standard gifts to honor a king or deity in the ancient world: gold as a precious metal, frankincense as perfume or incense, and myrrh as anointing oil. In addition to the honor and status implied by the value of the gifts of the magi, scholars think that these three were chosen for their special spiritual symbolism about Jesus himself—gold representing his kingship, frankincense a symbol of his priestly role, and myrrh a prefiguring of his death and embalming—an interpretation made popular in the well-known Christmas carol “We Three Kings.”
Still others have suggested that the gifts of the magi were a bit more practical—even medicinal in nature. Researchers at Cardiff University have demonstrated that frankincense has an active ingredient that can help relieve arthritis by inhibiting the inflammation that breaks down cartilage tissue and causes arthritis pain. The new study validates traditional uses of frankincense as an herbal remedy to treat arthritis in communities of North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula where the trees that produce this aromatic resin grow. Did the Magi “from the East” know of frankincense’s healing properties when they presented it to young Jesus?
What are some frankincense uses?
There are many frankincense oil benefits.
Frankincense essential oil is great for skin care and nearly everything related to skin; burns, rashes, cuts, scrapes, and oozing sores. It’s also fabulous for mature, prematurely aging, and environmentally challenged skin.
Here is a video about the anti-aging properties of frankincense:
To use as a night (or day) cream: just add a few drops to the base of your choice. This can be as simple as something like a bottle of Whole Foods unscented lotion, liquid soap, shower gel, or moisturizer. Or it can be as complex as you like. If you are making your own creams or oils, frankincense will be an excellent and appropriate addition. percentages will vary but a reasonable rule is about six drops per oz. That’s not set in stone! Feel free to experiment. Here are some general rules regarding use on the skin:
You can use more drops in lotions meant for body. They can be stronger. Use fewer drops for facial creams. They should be less strong as your face is usually more sensitive.
Making a blend for massage of a specific (limited) area, such as feet, hands, lower legs, can be stronger in general than an all around massage blend.
Soaps, shampoos, conditioners (things that you wash off) can be stronger in general than products you leave on your skin.
Frankincense oil can be added to pure water and used as a toner or refresher. You can add a little vodka to help it blend if you like. If you don’t have any way to mix them, don’t despair. The oil will float on top, yes, but all that means is you have to shake the bottle before you spray it.
In the shower
No need to add frankincense oil to your bath gel if you don’t want to do that, or have something other blend in there. Just add a few drops to your washcloth and run it over yourself during your final (hot water) rinse. The steam will infuse with frankincense and you will enjoy a quick and intense frankincense steam bath. refreshing and relaxing at the same time!
For a quick frankincense bath, it’s best to add the essential oil to something so it dissolves a bit in the bath water. Frankincense is not usually sensitizing for most people, but it depends on the amount and circumstances. Putting a few drops of neat essential oil in a hot bath is not recommended. For anyone. With any oil. Even old friends can burn you in that environment. The situation is that the oils, not being water soluble, remain on the surface of the hot water in original and exclusive drops. Your pores open from the hot water and the frankincense might cause an irritation. If it’s ever going to burn you, this would be when. If you add frankincense oil to a vegetable or nut oil, meaning a massage oil, like olive oil, jojoba, coconut, etc, then it will still float on top of the water but it will be diluted in amount, if not in placement. Some people will be OK with this. Some not.
You can add your frankincense to alcohol (vodka) or honey and this may be better because it will dissolve, at least partly, in these mediums. Epsom salts work well too. Bath soap or solubulizer will work the best, if you have them. If in doubt, stick with a couple of drops of the oil, maybe make the water not so hot, and don’t stay in for hours. Don’t forget, you can always take a normal bath, and rinse yourself with frankincense on a washcloth afterward.
It’s always possible to add frankincense hydrosol to the bath water. It’s completely water soluble and a nice change. Although it varies in composition from frankincense essential oil (it’s hydrophilic and oil is hydrophobic) it still promotes many of the same effects.
As a facial steam
Frankincense oil for the face is a great mini-facial. Just take a pot or pan of boiling water, add a drop or two (no more) frankincense oil to it. Lean over it and cover your head with a towel, breathing deeply. Your lungs will be so happy! And your face will rejoice! You can try one drop frankincense and one drop lavender.
Though many essential oils have a skin lightening ability, none works better than frankincense oil for age spots. It is known to give a beautiful skin by making the age spots less conspicuous. It also prevents acne scars, stretch marks and wrinkles. The oil has many qualities with health benefits. It is a good remedy for age spots because it is cicastrisant, astringent and cytophylactic.
The health benefits of frankincense essential oil can be attributed to its properties as an antiseptic, disinfectant, astringent, carminative, cicatrisant, cytophylactic, digestive, diuretic, emenagogue, expectorant, sedative, tonic, uterine and vulnerary substance.
- Immune System: Frankincense Oil is effective as an antiseptic, and even the fumes or smoke obtained from burning it have antiseptic and disinfectant qualities that eliminate the germs in the space where the smoke filters out. It can be applied on wounds without any known side effects to protect them from tetanus and becoming septic. It is equally good on internal wounds and protects them from developing infections.
- Oral Health: Those same antiseptic qualities also make frankincense oil a useful preventative measure against oral issues like bad breath, toothaches, cavities, mouth sores and other infections. Look for natural oral care products that include frankincense oil if you enjoy the flavor or aroma and want to include a strong antiseptic in your health regimen. You can even create your own all-natural toothpaste with frankincense oil and baking soda or a mouthwash with water and peppermint oil.
- Astringent: The astringent property of frankincense oil has many benefits because it strengthens gums, hair roots, tones and lifts skin, contracts muscles, intestines and blood vessels, and thereby gives protection from premature losses of teeth and hair. This astringent quality also reduces the appearance of wrinkles, and combats the loss of firmness of intestines, abdominal muscles, and limbs associated with age. Above all, frankincense acts as a coagulant, helping to stop bleeding from wounds and cuts. This astringent property also helps to relieve diarrhea of various types.
- Emenagogue: Frankincense essential oil reduces obstructed and delayed menstruation and delays the advent of menopause. It also helps curing other symptoms associated with menses and Post Menstrual Syndrome, such as pain in the abdominal region, nausea, headache, fatigue and mood swings.
- Carminative: Frankincense oil eliminates gas and prevents it from building up in the body. This removal of excess gas from the intestines also gives relief from associated problems like stomach aches, pain in the abdominal region and chest, abnormal amounts of sweating, uneasiness, indigestion and many other related conditions.
- Cicatrisant: This is an interesting property of frankincense oil, and because skin health and anti-aging are such hot topics these days, this essential oil has become even more important! When applied topically or inhaled, it can make the scars and after marks of boils, acne and pox on the skin fade at a much faster rate. This also includes the fading of stretch marks, surgery marks, and fat cracks associated with pregnancy and delivery of children.
- Digestive: Suffering from indigestion due to that turkey last night? A patient of chronic indigestion and acidity? Fed up with those antacids? Then you should try frankincense oil instead. This oil has digestive properties without any side effects, and it facilitates digestion the way most medicines should, unlike common antacids which only suppress the symptoms. This oil speeds up the secretion of digestive juices (gastric juices, bile and acids) in the stomach and facilitates movement of food through the intestines by stimulating peristaltic motion. This means an all-around improvement in the digestion of food.
- Anti-Aging: As a Cytophylactic, Frankincense oil promotes regeneration of healthy cells and also keeps the existing cells and tissues healthy. When you combine this aspect of frankincense oil with its powerful astringent capabilities, you have a potent anti-aging quality that compels people to use frankincense oil. It can help you to eliminate sun spots, remove micro-wrinkles around the eyes and cheeks, and generally tone and tighten skin all over your body while simultaneously replacing old or dying cells with new, healthy ones!
- Tonic: Overall, frankincense essential oil tones and boosts health and is therefore considered a tonic. It benefits all the systems operating in the body, including the respiratory, digestive, nervous and excretory systems while also increasing strength by aiding the absorption of nutrients into the body. Furthermore, frankincense oil strengthens the immune system and keeps you strong and protected for the future.
- Diuretic: If you thought that Lasix and its variants were the only drugs that could help you release water from the body through urination, you were incorrect. Those pharmaceutical options may be instantaneous, but not very safe. Frankincense essential oil is a natural and safe alternative. It promotes urination and helps you lose that extra water weight, as well as fats, sodium, uric acid and various other toxins from the body with the added advantage of lowering blood pressure. The best part about this is that frankincense essential oil is safe and has no adverse side effects.
- Respiratory Issues: It is especially useful to the respiratory system during seasonal changes and aids in coughs, excess mucus, pharyngitis, laryngitis, bronchitis, colds and flu.
- Cancer: Used because of its anti-inflammatory properties, Frankincense also known as boswellia serrata has been a favorite as a folk medicine for several health concerns including asthma, gastroenteritis and skin conditions. New research, like the study that came from the University of Leicester, has recently suggested that frankincense’s disease-reversing power may be even more encompassing than previously suspected. Successfully linking AKBA as a potential treatment for brain, breast, colon, pancreatic, prostate and stomach cancers, research trials are filling medical journals like Carcinogenesis and PLoS One about Boswellia serrata’s cancer-fighting prowess. According to researchers from Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, the frankincense oil cancer-killing effects are due in part to it regulating cellular epigenetic machinery, which highlights its ability to influence genes to promote healing.
Here are two videoes about the anti-cancer properties of frankincense:
Here is a video on the health benefits of frankincense:
Frankincense (Boswellia carterii) includes the naturally occurring constituent boswellic acid, and has a woodsy, warm, balsamic aroma. Diffuse frankincense during meditation for grounding and purpose. Applying this oil topically may help smooth the appearance of healthy-looking skin and is excellent to use for massage after activity.
- Inhale frankincense essential oil after lunch to refocus spiritually
- Rub frankincense essential oil on the bottom of your feet to help alleviate nervous energy
- Depression: Add a drop to steaming water, place a towel over your head, and inhale until the steam stops. Massage into the pads of feet and the toes.
- Urinary tract infections: use eight to 10 drops in bath water in addition to using doctor prescribed medication.