There has always been a significant meaning for Frankincense in Christianity. It is believed to be one of the gifts offered by the three wise men to the newborn Jesus. This fragrant resin is transformed into an essential oil that’s valued in aromatherapy and natural health, as well as in religious practice.
This oil is also known as olibanum, which comes from the Boswellia genustrees. From the tree bark a milky white sap is extracted and allowed to harden into a gum resin for several days. Then it is scraped off in tear-shaped droplets. These trees grow in African and Arabian regions that include Yemen, Oman, Somalia and Ethiopia. Oman is the best known, and most ancient source of frankincense. It was then traded and shipped to other places like the Mediterranean, India and China for thousands of years.
The clear and silvery frankincense with a slight green tinge is the highest quality. In Oman the best frankincense is reserved for the sultan and usually kept in the country. The cheapest variety is the brown-yellow frankincense. Traditionally frankincense is burned as incense, charred, then ground into a powder to produce the heavy kohl that was used as eyeliner by the Egyptian women. This is now steam-distilled to produce an aromatic essential oil with many benefits. Frankincense oil will have a woody, earthy, spicy and slightly fruity aroma that tends to be calming and relaxing. The oil is sweeter, fresher and cleaner than the frankincense resin.
Frankincense oil has been used in the Middle East in religious ceremonies for thousands of years. It is also used in cosmetics. This is believed to be one of the top essential oils you can use for your health for visualizing, improving one’s spiritual connection and helping to overcome stress and despair.
Frankincense oil is inhaled or diffused via a vaporizer in aromatherapy and helps to induce a feeling of mental peace, relaxation and satisfaction as well as to help relieve anxiety, anger and stress.
It is also useful for your skin health, helping to treat dry skin, reversing signs of aging and to help reduce the appearance of stretch marks and scars. The astringent properties will help strengthen gums and hair roots, stop wounds from bleeding and speed up the healing of cuts, acne, insect bites and boils.
The health benefits of frankincense oil are actually attributed to its anti-inflammatory, astringent, antiseptic, disinfectant, digestive, diuretic and expectorant properties. Other effects are cicatrisant, carminiative, cytophylactic, emenagogue, uterine and vulnerary. Frankincense oil is also useful for arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, colds and respiratory disorders, oral health problems, digestive disorders and uterine health.
Among its many believed benefits are its effects on Cancer. Scientists have shown that frankincense contains a bioactive agent that is potent against cancerous cells.
The oil might be used by applying topically, inhaling it using a diffuser or vaporizer, or ingesting it in very small amounts. To use for pain relief, just massage it onto the area that is affected.
No severe side effect of using this oil has been reported. However, there might be in some cases, skin rashes and some gastrointestinal distress as nausea, stomach pain and hyperacidity. It also has blood-thinning effects and may increase the risk of abnormal bleeding in people with a bleeding disorder or those taking an anticoagulant medication. Doing a spot test first is advisable to see if you have any sensitivity to this oil. If taken internally, it’s best to dilute a drop in edible carrier oil or a teaspoon of honey, purified water or any non-dairy beverage.
-Dr Fredda Branyon