Frankincense benefits have been known about in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years and now, in the US, researchers at the University of California have been running trials using it for reducing the symptoms of arthritis. Scientists at The University of Oklahoma is testing Frankincense to use against cancer cells.
The BBC made an interesting radio program about Frankincense and Myrrh brought by the three kings to the stable at Bethlehem. If you want to read the book discussed with Wanda Sellar, you can get a Kindle copy here.
Frankincense starts as a resin or gum that exudes from 5 varieties of small tree that grow in the wild in the Middle East and North Africa. The Frankincense trees can grow in the most hostile environments and can even be found managing to survive growing out of rocks.
Incisions are made in the bark of the trees and in response, the bark secretes a gummy resin which hardens up like a scab on the tree. This resin is scraped off the bark and separated into different grades. The best quality is Grade A, which is a clear white color without any obvious impurities in it. Smaller pieces of the same quality are sieved to allow smaller particles, which are classified as Grade B. The best frankincense oil is made from these grades.
Further grades have more impurities in, and the lowest grades are sold for local use at the markets. The best quality grades are exported as resin or transferred by steam distillation into essential oil. This trade in Frankincense benefits a global population whilst supporting a local population.
Frankincense in the Bible is referred to as Olibanum which is a corruption of “oil of Lebanon”, although there is a much longer history of use for over 5,000 years. The Roman Catholic Church uses an estimated 50 metric tons of Frankincense resin a year for ritual burning in thuribles.
Frankincense smells deep, earthy, woody and incense-like, although there is also a version that is harvested in the Summer months which has a much lighter fragrance.
The INCI name is Boswellia Carterii, although there are other varieties that can be bought as well. The CosIng listing for Frankincense essential oil lists it as a fragrance and a tonic. Tonic is a very all encompassing word, meaning it is beneficial for many systems in the body.
Essential Oil Chemistry
As with most aromatherapy oils, the chemical compounds list is extensive, but can broadly be summarized to enable an Aromatherapist to make informed decisions about which chemical molecules are relevant.
A typical chemical breakdown of this oil is;
- Monoterpenes (89.81%)
- Other (5.98%)
- Monoterpenols (1.65%)
- Esters (1.08%)
- Sesquiterpenols (0.63%)
- Ketones (0.49%)
- Sesquiterpenes (0.36%)
You can see that Frankincense contains a LOT of Monoterpenes. These components are usually smaller molecules, so they are often responsible for the fragrance of the oil, and they reach your nose quickly. Certainly true with Frankincense. There has been intense research for decades about these molecules because they have been found to inhibit bacterial growth and also can be used as natural herbicides. There are a great many individual Monoterpenes in this oil that have powerful effects in minute amounts.
Note that adding terpene rich essential oil to cannabis infused oils, enriches them and makes them much more powerful in effect. For example, the Limonene content in Frankincense Essential Oil, will greatly enhance the relaxation and anti-anxiety effects of cannabis topicals.
Limonene is a Monoterpene that is anti-inflammatory (which helps with the breathing) but also with other areas of inflammation such as acne. It is also an amazing antifungal agent, making it great in foot and hand products. You may be surprised to read that it reduces the feeling of anxiety, which is why the oil has such a great reputation for calming someone down and helping them to relax. If that wasn’t enough, it also stimulates the immune system.
You can see that the Sesquiterpene levels are incredibly small, however, one of the Sesquiterpenes is Farnesol. That tiny amount is sufficient to have a big effect on your skin because it smooths out wrinkles and increases the suppleness and elasticity of your skin.
Pinene is another Monoterpene that is known to strengthen the respiratory system. I have also mentioned above, how well it slows and deepens the breathing. As a qualified aromatherapist myself, my most common Frankincense use has been to calm people down in times of stress by using an aromatherapy diffuser. If you like to have an essential oil fragrance gently wafting in the background, this oil diffuser is USB charged, safe and has an on/off timer as well. I have this one from Amazon and have been very happy with it, so am confident to recommend it to you.
The therapeutic aspects of Frankincense benefitted the client and me, while I worked with other essential oils for whatever the client needed. It could often send the client into a meditative state of deep relaxation. This could be used to build up a reflex response so that when they were at home and used any aromatherapy products that I had given them, they quickly relaxed with an overall sense of peace and wellness. It is very nurturing to get that response.
Frankincense oil for skin
- One of the Frankincense benefits is that the essential oil is astringent. Frankincense oil for acne is a good choice because it is also cytophylactic which helps in healing and stimulates the creation of new cells. It is just as effective when used on cuts and wounds, making it a great choice to use in products designed to soothe inflammation after shaving.
- This same astringency makes it an ideal choice for mature skin and anti-ageing products. It reduces the appearance of wrinkles and can even out skin imperfections like discoloration. It reduces the size of large pores as well. This is even more enhanced when combined with Vitamin B3 into a cream or lotion.
- As mentioned above (Farnesol), this is a wonderful essential oil to use for all skin care if you are interested in looking good. It helps to smooth out fine lines and wrinkles and keeps your skin supple and more elastic, i.e., younger looking.
- It’s a great addition to hand a foot creams because it is a strong antifungal agent. Great for sorting out athlete’s foot and jock itch from the gym. Being anti-inflammatory goes well with this, as well as being a good antioxidant.
- Aromatherapy massage products will often use the Frankincense benefits in blends for relaxation. The oil helps to relax the intercostal muscles between the ribs, which allows the lungs to take in more air. This slows and deepens the breathing, which automatically has a relaxing effect.
Where Do You Apply Essential Oils For Chakras?
Frankincense resonates with;
- 1st Chakra / Root Chakra / Muladhara / Base of spine
This chakra connects with our stability, roots, and foundations and gives us the security of feeling grounded. When the chakra is open, we feel balanced and capable.
Mantra: “I can’t grow from an unsteady foundation”
- 7th Chakra / Crown Chakra / Sahasrara/ Crown of the head
This is the highest chakra which gives clarity and connects with our ability to be fully connected spiritually. When your crown chakra is fully open, it is possible to access a higher consciousness. It is meditative, purifying, expansive and grounding.
Mantra: “I am a vessel for love and light”
Color: Violet or white
Element: Divine Consciousness
Stone: Clear quartz
How To Get The Best Quality Products?
It’s always a concern when you buy something for the first time, to know that you are getting good quality. Some of the heaviest marketing for essential oils is done by the MLM companies – I’m sure you have heard of the big names? Well, someone has to pay for all that market AND the high commissions the resellers get (spoiler alert – it’s you that pays) and, in my experience, the quality is not always what I would choose to use. I’ve hunted around and checked online paperwork to find suppliers that offer the best quality products at a fair price, and also make it easy for you. I recommend these that are available on Amazon;
Just a reminder not to use aromatherapy oils undiluted. Always dilute them with a vegetable oil and use just a few drops to start with. Always read up first to check for contraindications and use safely.
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