Frankincense flaunts the title - The King of Oils - and rightfully so thanks to its extreme versatility. It gets its name from the French term franc encens meaning pure incense.
Famous as the gift chosen by the three wise men for the birth of Jesus Christ, frankincense has been used for centuries in religious ceremonies for power, anointing, and spiritual connection.
In this article, you will discover the origin of frankincense oil, a plethora of health benefits, applications, side effects, and alternatives.
Frankincense is a pale-yellow or gold-colored resin obtained from the Boswellia tree. As the name suggests, it yields high-quality incense.
The King of Oils comes from any one of the 43 different species of the genus Boswellia trees found in Africa, India, and the Middle East.
You may also hear frankincense referred to as olibanum.
What Is Frankincense Essential Oil?
Frankincense essential oil is oil derived from the resin of the Boswellia tree. Five main species of Boswellia produce essential oil.
When purchasing frankincense oil you will notice three popular types; Boswellia serrata, B.Carterii, and B. Sacra. The most common is B. Sacra from the Boswellia sacra tree. B. papyrifera and B. frereana are two less common types of frankincense oil.
Aromatherapy and traditional medicine have used the benefits of frankincense since ancient times.
How is frankincense oil extracted?
It is extracted using the process of steam distillation from the sap of the trees.
The sap from the tree is left to harden, scraped off the tree, and then steamed to extract the oil.
What is the color of frankincense oil?
Frankincense oil is a clear liquid that can be colorless to pale yellow.
Why is frankincense considered The King of Oils?
Frankincense rightfully earned the title The King of Oils because of its amazing versatility. The benefits of frankincense essential oil are so plentiful that even the other most popular essential oils can't compete for the title.
What are the Health Benefits of Frankincense Essential Oil?
Frankincense essential oil has more health benefits than almost all other essential oils. Some of these benefits are surprising. Frankincense oil alleviates symptoms of anxiety, insomnia, and even arthritis.
Here’s a rundown of the health benefits of frankincense oil:
Alleviate Arthritis (Osteoarthritis)
Arthritis is a well-known autoimmune disease that causes joint inflammation.
One of the most common types of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which occurs when the flexible tissue at the end of the bones wears down. With its anti-inflammatory properties, frankincense oil can alleviate symptoms of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other forms of arthritis.
Results from multiple studies show that frankincense reduces joint inflammation. In a 2015 study on rats, medical researchers from the Nanjing University of Chinese medicine found that frankincense combined with myrrh significantly suppressed arthritis progression.
Improve Gut Function
When taken internally, frankincense oil soothes the gut lining and speeds up the secretion of digestive enzymes, improving overall gut health.
For centuries, frankincense essential oil has been used to treat asthma. Active components in frankincense may prevent the production of leukotrienes. These cause the bronchial muscle to constrict in people with asthma.
It may also positively affect Th2 cytokines, which can cause inflammation and mucus overproduction in people with asthma.
This all-in-one essential oil helps quieten your mind and restore focus, which are two things your mind needs during an anxiety attack.
Research at the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Medical Science found that it counters the effects of stress by effectively relieving sleep debt and maintaining antioxidant capacity.
You can enjoy this benefit by way of aromatherapy, simply by inhaling the woody aroma or diluting it in jojoba oil or any other unscented carrier oil and massaging it into your temples and other stress points.
Maintain Oral Health
Frankincense essential oil is known as an effective disinfectant and it's gentle enough for your mouth, making it a perfect mouthwash when diluted in water.
Use this essential oil for oral health to enjoy fresh-smelling breath, fight halitosis, and eliminate mouth sores. It also combats other oral infections and helps alleviate symptoms of gingivitis.
May Fight Certain Cancers
Frankincense resin may have anti-cancer effects thanks to the boswellic acids it contains.
It may be able to help fight breast cancer, skin cancer, and bowel cancer.
Unfortunately, more research is needed to confirm these findings.
Can Frankincense Shrink Tumors?
In one 2020 study of mice, the use of Frankincense caused remission in melanoma tumors, meaning it may have the ability to shrink these tumors.
It's no surprise that this Holy Grail of essential oil also has anti-aging benefits. It rejuvenates mature skin by minimizing wrinkles and fine lines. Also, it reduces signs of scars and blemishes.
Simply add two to three drops of pure frankincense essential oil to your moisturizer or make your serum by diluting the oil with a carrier oil.
Balancing and Moisturizing
The moisturizing properties of frankincense oil keep the skin from drying out and help balance it by reducing redness and discoloration.
As with all essential oils, you should dilute it with a carrier oil before using it on your face.
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The anti-inflammatory properties of this oil are like no other. They help reduce symptoms of some stomach-based diseases such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
In China, treatment of inflammatory diseases often uses a combination of frankincense and myrrh oil. They both contain powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
Frankincense essential oils (Boswellia Sacra) have been used to treat microbial infections since the early 11th century.
Scientists hope that more studies will increase the number of substances available to fight pathogens and resistance to antibiotics.
The boswellic acid in frankincense resin accounts for its antiseptic qualities.
Even the smoke from burning the resin causes antiseptic and disinfectant effects that filter out and kill harmful germs in the air.
The astringent properties in frankincense oil help protect skin cells, tighten skin, and heal flaws. It has been dubbed a healing oil because of its healing effects on skin conditions like acne, wounds, and scars.
Provide Skin Protection
By adding a few drops of frankincense oil to your favorite facial lotion you can experience its skin-protecting benefits and improve overall skin health.
Improve skin tightness
This is one of the best essential oils to tighten and strengthen skin because of its ability to reduce inflammation and remodel skin tissue. Because of this, your skin can rebuild cells and have more elasticity.
Reduce the appearance of scars
Thanks to the powerful astringent effects mentioned earlier, topical use of frankincense can reduce the appearance of stubborn scars and other skin imperfections, giving the skin a smooth, even tone.
This oil has a wide array of benefits for hair health and maintenance. It promotes hair growth and reduces hair loss, split ends, thinning hair, and tangles. Also, you can add shine to hair by placing up to six drops of oil in your shampoo or conditioner and using it as normal.
Is Frankincense Oil Good For The Face?
In short, YES! When applied topically, frankincense is one of the best essential oils for your face. It's gentle, smells amazing, and has seemingly endless benefits.
Can you use frankincense oil on your face daily?
Yes, you can use it daily on your face to reap all the wonderful benefits this oil offers.
Does frankincense remove dark spots?
Yes, frankincense oil is known to lighten and remove dark spots - just add frankincense oil to your everyday skincare routine.
Does frankincense help wrinkles?
Yes! Frankincense essential oil helps smooth wrinkles and tighten skin, especially when mixed with geranium oil.
Does frankincense oil help for insomnia?
Relief from insomnia is just another one of the many health benefits of frankincense essential oil.
In aromatherapy, frankincense can naturally reduce feelings of stress, invoke feelings of peace, and promote relaxation. You can also enjoy these benefits by adding other relaxing oils such as lavender or sandalwood to your diffuser.
Many essential oils such as jojoba oil, coconut oil, and citrus oils are ideal for blending with frankincense.
Insomnia doesn't stand a chance when you pair this aromatherapy method with relaxation.
Can you use frankincense oil for eczema?
Because of its intense skin healing properties, antimicrobial effects, and ability to reduce swelling, frankincense oil makes a perfect home remedy for symptoms of eczema.
Mix a few drops of oil with your regular body lotion to see results.
Frankincense Oil Myths and Contradictions
It's true that frankincense is a herbal wonder but unfortunately not every health benefit claim is backed by science. It's not that these claims are untrue, there isn't enough research in humans to support these claims.
Claim #1: Frankincense balances hormones and reduces symptoms of PMS
Some claims have been made that frankincense delays menopause and reduces menstrual cramping, nausea, headaches, and mood swings related to PMS.
In a 2017 study, researchers from the Nagasaki University in Japan found that some essential oils increase the amount of estrogen in female saliva, which may reduce menopause symptoms. Frankincense was not one of those essential oils.
More research is needed to either confirm or deny this claim.
Claim #2: It enhances fertility
One 2013 study conducted at the Department of Herbal Medicine, Pars Bioscience in Leawood, KS, found that frankincense increased fertility in male rats. This means it could be useful in fertility enhancement in humans
Human trials are needed to support this claim.
Claim #3: Frankincense essential oil kills cancer cells
As good as it sounds, this isn't true.
There is scientific evidence from researchers at Al Afia Medical Complex in the Sultanate of Oman that the boswellic acids found in both Boswellia sacra and Boswellia carteri have anti-cancer properties and can be used to prevent cancer cells and induce tumor growth.
However, the distillation process eliminates most of the boswellic acids. Only trace amounts are found in the essential oil.
Claim #4: Improves memory
Promising animal studies conducted by researchers at the University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran, show improvements to the memory of rats. However, there have been no human studies to confirm this claim.
Frankincense Oil Uses
Beauty: In the beauty industry frankincense oils are used topically in lotions, creams, and hair care products.
Aromatherapy: Frankincense oil is widely used in aromatherapy to promote feelings of peace, diminish negative feelings, provide stress relief, promote relaxation, counter depression, and other benefits. Since it needs to be inhaled, an essential oil diffuser is perfect for taking advantage of these aromatherapy benefits.
Health supplements: Many supplements incorporate the benefits of frankincense in a capsule to be taken by mouth.
Massage therapy: Frankincense makes amazing massage oil when you blend it with a carrier oil. A massage is ideal for the management of arthritis pain and swelling.
Where to apply frankincense essential oil?
Because everyone's skin is unique, you never know how yours will react to certain essential oils. Until you're familiar with this particular oil, always dilute it to be on the safe side.
Application of frankincense oil depends on the specific purpose:
Stress and anxiety: Apply to the temples or the jaw/neck/face area.
Skincare needs: Apply directly to the skin.
Insomnia: Applied topically to the temples or other stress points.
Pain and swelling: Apply directly to the sight of pain.
Hair maintenance: Add to shampoo or conditioner to be sure it's applied thoroughly to the scalp and hair.
Can you use frankincense oil under your eyes?
When applied under the eyes, frankincense can reduce under-eye puffiness and bags. Its antioxidant properties diminish dark circles under the eyes, but always be careful when applying any essential oil around the eye area.
Recommended daily dosage
The dosage of Frankincense is dependent upon age and other health factors. Here are some general guidelines.
Asthma: 300-400 mg of B. Serrata extract 3 times daily.
Inflammatory conditions: 300-400 mg of B. Serrata 3 times daily.
Ulcerative colitis: 350-400 mg 3 times daily.
Always follow the dosage instructions on the product label.
How often can you apply frankincense oil?
There are no specific guidelines on how often to apply frankincense oil topically. When diffusing, limit exposure to 1 hour, 3 times daily.
Are there any side effects associated with frankincense oil?
As with most essential oils, frankincense may cause some unwanted side effects like allergic reactions (very rare), gastrointestinal side effects, as well as an increased risk of abnormal bleeding due to its natural ability to thin the blood.
Although some side effects are possible, frankincense still has fewer negative effects than other anti-inflammatory drugs such as steroids and NSAIDs.
Can frankincense oil be toxic?
Despite all the wonderful benefits of frankincense essential oil, it can still be toxic to some, causing upset stomach and worsening stomach pain in some cases.
Does frankincense oil interact with any drugs and medications?
Because frankincense essential oil has natural blood-thinning effects, it can increase the risk of abnormal bleeding. This is especially true for anyone taking medications or herbs with anticoagulant effects like heparin, warfarin, ibuprofen, aspirin, or ginkgo biloba.
Consult your doctor or a healthcare professional before using frankincense essential oil if you take any of the medication above.
What To Look For When Buying Frankincense Oil?
Do the following to make sure you get the highest quality essential oils.
Read the product label: look for Latin name, plant part used, extraction process used (distillation or expressed), and how it was grown (e.g., organic, wild, or traditional). Beware of labels that say frankincense or even frankincense essential oil. It usually means the oil is either diluted with a carrier oil or mixed with another essential oil. A bottle of pure essential oil should say 100% essential oil.
Look for dark glass bottles: pure essential oils are sensitive to light and heat and will break down quickly if not packaged properly. It's important to buy essential oils sold in dark glass bottles. Most reputable sources sell their essential oils in amber glass bottles.
Buy from reputable brands: this is where research comes in! Search the most popular brands of essential oils, and be sure to read reviews! Once you feel comfortable with a brand, give it a try.
Are There Any Substitutes for Frankincense Oil?
Sadly, the oil's popularity has pushed the tree to the brink of extinction. So instead of reaching for frankincense every time the need arises, try a substitute now and then.
Depending on your need, there are other oils you can use instead of frankincense.
CBD oil: this oil is derived from the leaves, flowers, and stems of the cannabis plant and has similar health benefits such as reducing inflammation and pain relief.
Hemp oil: although hemp oil is derived from the same plant as CBD oil, the two oils come from different plant parts. Hemp oil contains vitamins and fatty acids that are beneficial to the skin and have anti-aging properties.
Coconut oil: thanks to its antibacterial properties, it is ideal for oral hygiene, topical use for beauty purposes, and beneficial for hair health.
Lavender essential oil: this popular essential oil has many similar applications and benefits. Its disinfectant and soothing capabilities make it perfect for treating acne and other skin conditions. Aromatherapy also uses lavender oil. When you inhale the floral fragrance, it helps reduce stress and anxiety and promotes sleep. This lavender bath gift set from body and earth is perfect for winding down after a long day.
Frankincense essential oil truly leaves little to want for.
If you’re looking for an oil that complements your whole life: beauty, mental health, physical health, and spirituality - then this essential oil is a must-have!
What’s not to love about frankincense oil?
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