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Frankincense - A Fragrant Gum Resin

Updated on October 22, 2011

Frankincense: also known as olibanum

Frankincense is a fragrant gum resin from trees of a genus, Boswellia (family Burseraceae), found in Somalia, Yemen, southern coastal Arabia, and North Africa. It is an important incense resin and has been used in religious rites, perfume, and embalming in history. Currently, there are some interesting things to know about frankincense as an herb that may be good for your health. There are four main species of Boswellia, and different grades of Frankincense, often dependent on harvesting, etc. When a tree is about 8 - 10 years old, they start producing the sought after resin, which can come from making a cut into the tree itself. It oozes out, and then hardens into what they call "tears". They look like little nuggets or gems, and depending on the tree itself, vary in their fragrance. Some more rugged trees that survive some harsh conditions, produce a more fragrant and more sought after frankincense. I thought that was interesting.

Health wise, there is much being said about the possible benefits of Frankincense for ones health. As always, please consult your doctor or physician before making any changes to your health routine. For instance, besides being a good thing for digestion and healthy skin, cancerous bladder cells tend to not do "well" with Frankincense, which is great news if true! It seemed to distinguish between healthy bladder cells and the cancerous ones.  Suppressing such cancer cell viability in the bladder is just amazing.  Indian Frankincense has been used for years for arthritis. It is said that burning frankincense repels mosquitoes, and if so can help lessen the mosquito borne illnesses.

There are scientific studies being done with frankincense for inflammatory diseases like Crohn's disease, and ulcerative colitis, and osteoarthritis. What great news if this can be a more natural way to deal with such problems. They are still testing the long term effects of using frankincense.

Patients struggling with arthritis, while receiving a particular extract of boswellia serrata in a double blinded test, responded well to the frankincense, while those that received the placebos didn't do as well.  What great news, to find relief for people struggling with these ailments. 

Frankincense has an anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic activities in rat astrocytoma cell lines, which show some anti cancer activities.  Not only that, but boswellic acids have also been shown to possess some anti cancer "activities" in their cytostatic and apoptotic in multiple human cancer cell lines!  This includes meningioma cells, melanoma cells, leukemia cells, hepatoma cells, colon cancer cells, and fibrosarcoma cells. More studies need to be done in every area, to confirm some of the observations seen so far.  I will hope for more from this possible "gift from nature", and pay attention to the data as it becomes available.  Thank you for stopping by, and if you have any information you would like to add, or if you have any comments, please let me know.

Frankincense pictures, and plant it comes from

Boswellia Sacra, 1897, Franz Kohler
Boswellia Sacra, 1897, Franz Kohler
Boswellia sacra resins, frankincense
Boswellia sacra resins, frankincense
Frankincense resins
Frankincense resins


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    • oceansnsunsets profile image

      Paula 6 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Thank you Phoenix.

    • PhoenixV profile image

      PhoenixV 6 years ago from USA

      very interesting facts