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The mental and physical benefits of frankincense essential oil

Updated on July 22, 2013

An introduction to frankincense essential oil

Derived from a deciduous, leafy forest tree found in the Middle East, frankincense oil is used for both mental and physical benefits. It has a rich, sensual fragrance, and is used in many aromatherapy products.

While frankincense is part of the larger Boswellia Carteri species, the linguistic origin of the word "frankincense" is traced back to the French language, specifically, the langue d'oc.

In fact, frankincense's benefits are even hinted through an analysis of its linguistic roots. As the French word “Franc” means both luxuriant or “real incense,” the combination of the definitions results in what we today call “frankincense.”

Frankincense is often best known for its historical appreciations; most notably, the Wise Men offered frankincense to Jesus after his birth, as the frankincense herb was considered to be of great value and quality - a gift fit for a King.

Large lumps of frankincense resin from the Yemen. Photo is in the public domain.
Large lumps of frankincense resin from the Yemen. Photo is in the public domain.

Historical uses of frankincense essential oil

Historically, in addition to Jewish use of the plant, frankincense was also used in its gum-like state by the ancient Egyptians. In fact, this was the first form of gum that people used as incense.

According to archeological research, the ancient Egyptians used the frankincense plant oil to rejuvenate their faces, applying the gum like a facial mask.

Other occasions called for the use of frankincense in order to fumigate those who were ill.

Adding to facial rejuvenation benefits, many Egyptians would use the oil as a form of eye makeup, perfume, and even as a warming agent during colder seasons.

In addition, many ancient cultures used frankincense for religious purposes. The ancient Egyptians, for example, used frankincense as an offering to the Gods for religious ceremonies or during prayer.

Aligning with the Egyptian culture's spiritual use of frankincense, it was also used in an effort to eradicate evil spirits.

For ceremonial purposes, Jews also used frankincense for a variety of offerings and religious practices. In fact, researchers believe that frankincense, along with other gifts, was presented every Sabbath in the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem before they were destroyed.

Even the Greeks used frankincense for religious purposes, and the Romans extended the use of frankincense herb oils to enhance special secular occasions as well as religious ceremonies.

Harvesting frankincense plants

As the oil is obtained from the Boswellia Thurifera tree, harvesters of the frankincense plants must make a deep incision in the trunk of the tree, at which point a white / cloudy liquid is released from the trunk's inner confines.

As the liquid touches the air, its colour changes to a deep yellow, and the consistency of the liquid becomes harder.

Once harvested, frankincense is then used in the form of a gum (for creating / strengthening materials), incense, or as an essential healing and wellness oil.

Aromatherapy and frankincense oil

People continue to find benefits from the use of frankincense oil today. One of the most popular uses of frankincense involves the practice of aromatherapy - it's a luxurious and special ingredient in some aromatherapy products.

As the compounds in frankincense essential oil provide the body and mind with a calming influence, frankincense is often used to help alleviate stress, anxiety, and worry.

When the frankincense herb is inhaled with the correct use of aromatherapy practices, people are often able to gain a stronger sense of inner peace and harmony.

The fragrence of frankincense oil is wonderful. I have some in my collection or aromatherapy oils, and adding some to bathwater or skin cream is a real treat.

Aromatherapy products targeted at aging and dry skin often contain frankincense oil, sometimes mixed with rose water, rose oil, and similar oils.

Small lumps of frankincense resin. These can be turned into oil, incense, or used as they are. Photo in the public domain.
Small lumps of frankincense resin. These can be turned into oil, incense, or used as they are. Photo in the public domain.

Health benefits of frankincense essential oil

Adding to the soothing frankincense benefits, the oil is also used to alleviate pain associated with breathing conditions, especially with respiratory infections.

To focus on breathing benefits, it is recommended that individuals suffering from bronchitis or respiratory medical complaints inhale a combination of frankincense and water through the form of a steam / vaporizer. This treatment should also help reduce pain and issues related to laryngitis.

Adding to this, many individuals use frankincense plant oil as an anodyne for pain when coping with a urinary tract infection, rheumatism, and / or muscle aches. When the frankincense essential oil is applied safely to the skin, the plant releases warm and soothing healing benefits.

Modern researchers continue to investigate the potential medical uses for frankincense essential oil. In fact, some European hospitals are researching the potential therapeutic benefits of frankincense, as some experts believe that frankincense may provide patients with theorized health advantages such as:

  • Anti-catarrhal result;

  • Heals / prevents scaring;

  • Helps prevent tumours;

  • Boosts the body's immune system;

  • Anti-depressant;

  • Mental stimulant / mood elevator.

Potential dangers of frankincense Oil

When used correctly, frankincense oil should pose little to no threat on one's wellbeing; however, frankincense should not be consumed or ingested. It is for external use only, don't drink it!

To enjoy the benefits, people can simply use a frankincense incense / aromatherapy method. In addition, a safe amount of frankincense oil can be applied directly to the skin. Through trans-dermal absorption, the body will be able to take in the healing powers of frankincense without having to actually ingest any of the compounds.

To ensure that one is not allergic to the oil, simply apply a small amount of the oil to a tiny area of the skin. Wait approximately 24 hours to ensure that your skin is not irritated or altered.


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