Frankincense resin and frankincense essential oil were “the gold of the caravans” in ancient times. Frankincense was mainly used in religious rites and in places of prayer and meditation, and was considered a sacred and precious commodity.
Frankincense has traditionally been known as a cosmetic and therapeutic agent. It has always been associated with longevity and memory. The resin was burned to drive out evil spirits and make contact with “the higher”. Frankincense has a pleasantly intoxicating spicy woody scent. The sweet, warm balsamic aroma invigorates and revives the spirit.
Frankincense Origin & Characteristics
Frankincense is a fragrant resin, also called “olibanum”, from the Boswellia Sacra tree. The word olibanum is possibly derived from the Arabic al-lubán, meaning milk – a possible reference to the milky fluid that flows from the boswellia tree after being cut. The name might also be a contraction for “oil from Lebanon”, as olibanum was sold from Lebanon to European traders. Olibanum resin is one of the oldest frankincense resins in existence, ancient trade routes and cities have been discovered in the Arabian desert that owe their wealth to the frankincense and myrrh trade. Until the 20th century, Arabian incense was as precious as gold.
Boswellia sacra is a small deciduous tree with one or more trunks. The bark has a papery texture and is easy to remove. The compound leaves grow opposite each other along the branches and the small flowers, yellowish-white, are gathered in clusters. Individual trees growing on steep slopes tend to develop buttress roots: large, wide roots on all sides that prevent the tree from falling over, meanwhile gathering more nutrients.
The natural function of resin is to protect the tree when the bark is damaged, the resin protects the tree from invaders that can cause disease or fungi. For a higher resin yield, deep incisions are made in the bark and the leaking resin is collected.
Frankincense Oil & Benefits
Frankincense oil, known as the king of essential oils, has various notable uses and benefits. This powerful oil is revered for its ability to beautify and rejuvenate the skin when applied topically. Just as in the treasured past, when frankincense was highly esteemed for use during religious ceremonies, in soothing skin salves and perfume, it continues to be one of the most popular essential oils. The emitted aroma of frankincense promotes feelings of satisfaction, peace and relaxation.
The frankincense oil, obtained from the resin by steam distillation, is light yellow coloured. As a nourishing oil, frankincense is especially suitable for dry and ageing skin. The large amounts of monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes contained in frankincense oil are highly antibacterial and promote healing of the skin. Moreover, frankincense oil has anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, astringent, wound healing, immune stimulant, expectorant, antidepressant, sedative and possibly antitumor effects.
Frankincense Oil for Skin Care
Frankincense oil has been used for skin care since ancient times. Particularly for the mature skin, it has been shown to have excellent care qualities and to slow down the natural ageing process of the skin. Since frankincense oil is packed with antioxidants, it promotes healing of sores and rashes, burns, cuts and scratches.
In fact, frankincense oil is an indispensable remedy for skin care, often used in cosmetic products to stimulate cell renewal, promote elasticity and slow wrinkle formation. The oil is used to prevent stretch marks and reduce scars and also helps with itching and swelling from insect bites. Frankincense regulates sebum production too, making it suitable for oily skin.
Soothing – The powerful purifying properties of frankincense essential oil make it effective for soothing the skin. It has the ability to enhance the protective function of the epidermis while soothing and nourishing affected areas of the skin. Skin imperfections and irritations such as razor bumps can be relieved with frankincense oil. The soothing properties of this oil can benefit the irritated skin simply by diluting it with your usual aftershave product, and applying it topically.
Rejuvenating – Frankincense oil is ideally suited as an anti-ageing product for mature skin, it reduces fine lines and wrinkles by nourishing and firming the epidermis, which gives the skin a refreshed and youthful appearance.
Dry hands or cracked skin due to cold winter air? Improve the appearance of scaly hands? Frankincense can help here too! Adding a few drops of frankincense oil to your favourite moisturizing cream will rehydrate and rejuvenate your hands. With a drop of this essential oil on your fingernails, they too will look shiny and healthy again.
Balancing – Frankincense essential oil is effective against impurities of the skin or even pigmentation. This effective oil purifies oily skin and stabilizes the epidermis for a healthy-looking glow. Frankincense has a tonic and astringent effect and is suitable for dry skin, the older skin and for the prevention of stretch marks. The oil calms and heals small wounds, scars and sores. Ulcers caused by varicose veins can also be treated with frankincense.
Frankincense exhibits anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial effects, making it useful for acne and eczema as well.
Frankincense Oil for Respiratory Tract
Frankincense oil has also been shown to be an effective agent in fighting the common cold. It loosens stuck mucus, helps to clear the airways and increase their natural resistance. Used as a massage oil, it has an anti-inflammatory effect and therefore reduces the risk of infection.
Frankincense in Arthritis
The triterpene acids contained in frankincense oil are found to be responsible for its anti-inflammatory effect. Frankincense has been used for centuries in India for arthritis in traditional remedies. Research showed that several substances in frankincense do indeed stimulate collagen formation and fight the inflammation that causes arthritis. Some other scientific studies concluded that frankincense’s effects on inflammatory diseases such as asthma, arthritis and osteoarthritis may contribute favourably to treatment.
Frankincense Oil & Aromatherapy
Like other essential and aroma oils, frankincense oil also has a range of uses and applications such as skin care, physical and mental health. Frankincense oil has a powerful purifying effect on the atmosphere as well as on the body and mind.
Frankincense oil is therefore particularly popular in aromatherapy. Since this oil loses its beneficial effect on mental health when heated in an oil burner, it is recommended to diffuse its scent by means of a cold nebulizer. Frankincense oil gives a soothing feeling to tension, helps relieve headaches and promotes a good night’s sleep. It relaxes the mind and is very suitable for use in meditation and yoga.
Relaxing and Stimulating
Frankincense Essential Oil has been shown to have a significant positive effect on stress related symptoms and is very effective in boosting focus. The calming properties of frankincense essential oil can restore emotional balance and help overcome stress and despair.
Frankincense oil is suitable for inhalation or spraying, or to apply topically to the body for deeper breathing and a soothing feeling. In an aroma evaporator frankincense gives a fresh aromatic resin scent, it is also suitable to be mixed with other essential oils. Frankincense has the quality of making other scents richer and more intriguing. In the aroma vaporizer, bronchitis (asthmatic and catarrhal) is soothed, excess mucus is regulated and breathing is deepened.
Frankincense is a very versatile essential oil that should be available in any household.