The very name is synonymous with the season since it was one of the first Christmas gifts presented by the Magi/Three Wise Men alongside gold and myrrh. Throughout the ages this precious oil has been so revered that it was literally worth its weight (or more) in gold, and is aptly referred to as the ‘King of Oils’. The name frankincense is derived from old French words and means “high quality incense”. Frankincense has a long history of use in a spiritual context as well as for its therapeutic usage, and renowned for being the universal healer both mentally and physically.
So let’s take a closer look beyond the history and wonderful aroma that makes it one of the most popular Christmas scents and see how frankincense essential oil can support you through the winter months.
What are the Benefits of Frankincense Essential Oil?
Frankincense Essential Oil Provides Emotional Support
The shorter days of winter and lack of sunlight, as well as the abysmal weather can have a negative effect on our mood, and even promote depression, in particular to those suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Likewise many people can suffer from anxiety over the Christmas period, or depression due to loneliness, memories of Christmases past and lost loved ones. Frankincense is renowned for being an emotional healer and calms the mind, uplifting and balancing the mood, diminishing negativity, anxiety and depression.
According to a 2019 study, two compounds found in frankincense, incensole and incensole acetate, are able to activate ion channels in the brain to alleviate anxiety or depression. Whilst another study confirmed that burning boswellia resin as incense had antidepressive effects, citing “Incensole acetate, an incense component, elicits psychoactivity by activating TRPV3 channels in the brain”, and they went on to suggest that these channels in the brain are implicated in the perception of warmth in the skin.
Frankincense Essential Oil for Meditation and Prayer
The Christmas season and the start of the new year are often a time of prayer and quiet contemplation. Frankincense helps to induce a feeling of peace, calm and relaxation which makes it perfect for meditation, prayer time and reflection.
Frankincense Essential Oil Supports a Healthy Immune System
At a time when viruses are everywhere and the next bout of flu, common cold or respiratory ailment seems to be just around the next corner, frankincense essential oil can help to enhance the immune system to protect against bacteria, viruses and even some cancers. The strong immunostimulant activity stimulated by frankincense was confirmed by researchers at Mansoura University in Egypt.
Frankincense Essential Oil Kills Harmful Germs and Bacteria
In addition to its immunostimulant activities, frankincense essential oil is an antiseptic and disinfectant agent with antimicrobial effects and can eliminate germs such as the common cold and flu from the body and home. A few drops added to some water makes a potent chemical-free household cleaner to effectively destroy germs and bacteria on surfaces around the home, and can also allay airborne pathogens when used as a room spray, or when the oil is diffused or used in an oil-burner. The ancient old combination of frankincense and myrrh is particularly effective against germs and bacteria as they demonstrate synergistic properties.
Frankincense Essential Oil Aids Respiratory Health
This time of year is open house for the flu, common cold and other respiratory ailments, and frankincense essential oil is a champion at fighting their symptoms with its antiseptic, antiviral, anti-inflammatory and expectorant properties. By diffusing or using this oil through steam inhalation it can reduce inflammation and break-up and expel mucus and phlegm from the lungs, respiratory tract, bronchi, larynx, pharynx and nasal tract (including sinuses), thus promoting easier breathing, in addition to soothing a cough and sore throat.
Frankincense Essential Oil Soothes Mild Asthma
Cold weather is not good news for those affected by asthma. Breathing in cold dry air can dry out the mucus lining the bronchial tubes or make the muscles start to spasm, which can be significant if the bronchial tubes are already inflamed, leading to coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.Meanwhile the rain and wind can stir up mold spores which can be a trigger. It’s also more likely that you’re spending more time indoors and are possibly exposing yourself to more indoor allergens such as dust, pet dander, cigarette smoke and mold. Frankincense essential oil helps to calm and support the respiratory system and can reduce mild asthma symptoms or even prevent attacks. One study which took place over a 6 week period confirmed the positive benefits of frankincense essential oil on asthma as 70% of the participants experienced fewer asthma attacks, in addition to fewer episodes of wheezing and shortness of breath.
Frankincense Essential Oil Eases Digestion
Wintertime is tough on our digestive system with heavier stodgier food as the norm, as well as an excess of rich food and drink during the festivities. Frankincense essential oil can help relieve gastrointestinal discomfort such as gas, constipation, nausea and stomachache. It increases the production of digestive enzymes, improves circulation and relaxes the muscles of the digestive tract to promote proper digestive health, plus relieves pain and cramping and removes excess water to reduce bloating. Frankincense is an effective remedy for reducing symptoms of chronic colitis, ulcerative colitis, leaky gut syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and Crohn’s Disease.
Frankincense Essential Oil Acts as a Sleep Aid
As we’ve already determined, the holiday season can be a source of anxiety and stress for some which will inevitably interfere with sleep. Frankincense lowers stress and anxiety, and its calming, grounding aroma can help you to fall asleep quickly. It also opens the air passages, eliminates pain and allows the body to reach the perfect temperature for sleep.
Frankincense Essential Oil Restores and Regenerates Skin
Winter weather is no fun for the skin. Luckily frankincense oil is perfect for nourishing dry flaky skin, and calming, repairing and regenerating rough, cracked, chapped or wind-burnt skin. Dry or damaged skin also ages quicker, but frankincense has you covered there too with its anti-ageing properties, and will tone, soften and tighten the skin to eliminate the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Furthermore, it also balances sebum production and is antibacterial to resolve acne, eczema and general inflammation, as well as promoting wound healing. Frankincense is also perfect for soothing razor burn which also seems to occur more often in the winter. And don’t forget the hands either since they are so often neglected in the harsh weather, and applying some oil to the nails will help to retain their health and shine too.
Note: Frankincense essential oil should never be applied undiluted to the skin. Add a couple of drops to a carrier oil such as jojoba, argan, sweet almond or coconut, or even improve your existing products by adding some to your favourite lotions and creams.
Frankincense Essential Oil Decreases Inflammation and Pain
The cold weather can aggravate inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, whilst muscles and tendons are more prone to damage in the cold. Frankincense has been proven in many studies to significantly reduce inflammation and pain by blocking key inflammatory molecules, and is the perfect remedy for sore, stiff muscles and joints. It can also help to revive tired muscles after a work-out or an unaccustomed use of trudging through snow!!! Simply add a few drops to a carrier oil and massage into the affected area.
Frankincense Essential Oil Soothes The Scalp and Diminishes Dull Hair
Like on the skin, Frankincense oil nourishes and soothes dry flaky or irritated skin, and a healthy scalp is key to healthy hair. The oil also stimulates blood circulation which can help to promote hair growth, and when applied to the hair will also help to add shine and smoothness, and protect against split ends, dullness and tangles. To apply, mix a couple of drops with a carrier oil, massage into the scalp and smooth the excess over the length of the hair. Wrap the hair in a towel and leave for 30 minutes before shampooing out. Alternatively add a couple of drops to your usual shampoo or conditioner.
Treat your winter ailments the natural way with this festive quintessential oil, and experience for yourself the exceptional healing power of frankincense essential oil.