Frankincense is an ancient wonder, especially when it comes to skincare, stress, pain, and spiritual practice.
If you’re from the west, then you have probably heard the biblical story of the Three Magi gifting the baby Jesus with gold, frankincense, and myrrh. To our modern minds, the gold makes sense but… frankincense and myrrh? Why was that so valuable?
With the holiday season fully upon us and Christmas Eve tonight, it’s a perfect time for us to shed some light on this ancient wonder.
Common Name: Frankincense
Botanical Name: Boswellia carterii
Other Names: Olibanum, Luban, Ladan
Part Used: Resin
Extraction Method: Steam-Distilled
Scent: Woody, balsamic, spicy, warm, sweet
Perfume Note: Base / Middle
Frankincense has been revered for more than 5,000 years. It was traded on the Arabian Peninsula for thousands of years and depicted on ancient Egyptian temples. It was traded as far as China and was introduced to Europe by Crusaders.
It is listed in the Hebrew Bible and Talmud as one of the consecrated incenses. It is listed in the Christian bible countless times. The ancient Greek historian Herodotus even wrote about how it is cultivated.
It’s been around for a while!
So, what is it really?
Frankincense is a resin (or tree sap) collected from the Boswellia tree in a tradition going back to ancient days. Tree bark is slashed to allow the sap to seep out and harden into a resin. The resin is then collected and used in two main forms:
- Resin –
- Either in small tears (beads) or ground to a powder
- This form is used primarily for incense burning
- Essential Oil –
- Resin is steam distilled into an oil
- This form is generally used for ingesting or topical applications on the skin
Ok, so now I know what it is, what’s the big deal??
Frankincense is a powerhouse. Or, more precisely, it is a tonic because it aids most systems of the body: respiratory, nervous, digestive, and excretory systems while boosting overall health. The ancient Egyptians used it as a cure-all and it was said to be more valuable than gold. It’s starting to make sense why it’s a good gift.
- Heals wounds, boils & eczema
- Fade scars & stretch marks
- Reduces acne, dark spots, large pores
- Slows signs of aging
Frankincense oil is an astringent, an antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and improves circulation. These are all really important to healthy and young looking skin. By increasing blood flow to the skin, this magic oil helps cells heal themselves. Frankincense lifts and tightens the skin to slow the signs of aging and reduces the appearance of scars and stretch marks over time. The antiseptic properties treat certain types of acne and, more importantly, keeps wounds clean and bacteria free. Frankincense is also a cytophylactic which means it protects cells and aids cell regeneration. All these properties come together to make this oil an absolute powerhouse in helping heal wounds, eczema, and boils. It’s a perfect addition to homemade Neosporin. This is a long list of benefits to the skin and we’re just getting started!
Antiseptic qualities make this a great oil not only for skin but also for oral health. When used in toothpaste or a gargle, it helps fight bad breath, cavities, mouth sores, and oral infections. Combine with Clove Oil and apply to inflamed gums for pain relief and healing.
Antiseptic also means it’s a pretty good oil for cleaning and sanitizing surfaces but considering that this sacred oil is not very cheap, lemon might be more useful for cleaning.
Since around 500 BC Frankincense has been used in China in Eastern medicine for its ability to improve circulation. This oil gets your blood moving. This is such a critical and often overlooked part of our health because it helps cell growth and organ function making your body work more efficiently and fight off infections easier.
Regulates immune system
Calms an over-active immune system and activates a sluggish immune system.
This may be one of the most important qualities of Frankincense oil. It has been said to be as strong as NSAIDs (for example ibuprofin or aspirin) but with virtually no side effects.
As a topical application, it is really useful for relieving joint and muscle pain and is particularly good for arthritis.
Taken internally, it’s effective against Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, leaky gut, IBS, and other digestive issues. Please note: never ingest essential oils that you are not 100% sure are 100% pure. Consult with a physician or a medical professional if you’re not sure it’s safe for you.
Balances the production of estrogen
Regulates estrogen production in both post and pre-menopausal women for a regular cycle and a reduced risk of cysts and uterine tumors.
Effective for chronic stress, anxiety & insomnia
Add a couple drops to your bath or rub it on your temples to induce feelings of calm and peace.
Use it in a vaporizer or burn the resin in the evening to calm your nerves and open up your breathing passages to for restful sleep. Used regularly as part of healthy sleeping habits has shown Frankincense to be effective for chronic insomnia.
Great for lungs and relieves asthma, bronchitis, chest congestion
Frankincense oil helps break down phlegm and can help relieve bronchial congestion.
The anti-inflammatory properties help with asthma. Using a few drops in a vaporizer is the easiest way to inhale for benefits.
This is… controversial. I will let you decide for yourself and give you a couple articles to get started in research if you are curious.
Ancient Egyptians used the incense in the embalming process and burned it in temples. Many Christian (Catholic, Russian Orthodox, etc) churches burn it to this day. If you’ve ever walked into mass, you will recognize the earthy, sweet, and balsamic scent.
Frankincense is a strong purifier of the body and also of spirit. It is often used in purification, protection, and cleansing rituals by either burning the resin or anointing with the oil. Because of this cleansing ability, it is used to burn away negative energy on all planes and raise the vibrations of a sacred space to prepare it for a ritual.
It is a beautiful addition to meditations because Frankincense awakens the spiritual senses to allow for an easier connection with the divine. Related to sun energy, this ancient wonder expands consciousness and opens up the third eye or the crown chakra.
I have burned this with myrrh and/or copal resin in both meditations and for house-clearing practices and I really recommend it for a transcendental and empowering experience.
I want to try it! How do I do that?
Make your own:
- You can purchase resin and burn it on charcoal rounds
- To make your own Frankincense oil, combine 3% oil with jojoba, olive, coconut or your choice of carrier oil.
- The basic proportion is 6 drops to 1 ounce of oil.
- Put a couple of drops in a diffuser or vaporizer for aromatherapy effects
I highly recommend buying from Mountain Rose Herbs. Nope, this not an affiliate or sponsored link. MRH has some of the highest quality products on the market and is one of the more ecologically responsible companies out there. Frankincense is generally a very expensive oil. If you see it for cheap online, be wary. I buy most of my supplies (especially when I want quality) from MRH and is a bit of a one-stop shop. You can purchase resin, oil, charcoal rounds, and even diffusers all on their site.
Buy Already Made
Clearly, I have a very high opinion of this oil. If you rather purchase than make your own, I recommend the Midnight Naturals Elixir Vitae where Frankincense EO is just one of many ancient wonders that make it worthy of the name “Elixir of Life”. I made this oil to deal with a variety of skin maladies I was having and now every member of my family has a bottle on-hand.