Latin: Boswellia carterii
For thousands of years a resin called frankincense (or olibanum) has been collected from the Boswellia tree and prized for the beautiful, calming smoke when burnt traditionally in religious ceremonies.
Historically the Boswellia tree grew in specific desert conditions in the Arabian Peninsula and parts of north Africa but recent plantations have been successful in US and South America. When the trees are eight to 10 years old, the bark is cut and resin flows out. The first milky sap is impure and discarded, but further cutting a few weeks later produces a finer resin. Solid “tears” of this resin are then sold as frankincense.
Still used as a holy anointing oil in the Middle East, the essential oil of frankincense is produced by steam distillation of the tree resin and has an uplifting sweet, spice with a hint of lemon fragrance that offers a variety of health benefits. The ancient Egyptians used it in rejuvenating face masks and two-thousand years later it is still a valuable ingredient in skin care products to naturally slow signs of aging. Frankincense strengthens, lifts and tightens skin, improving the appearance of scars, acne blemishes and large pores, improves the elasticity and appearance of skin to prevent wrinkles, and can help fade stretch marks and surgery scars.
Frankincense is widely used in perfume, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries, but more recently it has been used in traditional European and American hospitals and is currently the subject of substantial research in treatment of cancers, arthritis, osteoarthritis and asthma.
Soothe-me skincare products that contain Frankincense oil or hydrosol water
In aromatherapy, Frankincense essential oil is used either by inhaling the oil or absorbing it through the skin, usually mixed with a carrier oil. lotion or cream. It’s believed that the oil transmits messages to the limbic system of the brain, which is known to influence the nervous system. So this lovely, scented oil is excellent for relieving stress and depression, boosting hormone levels, easing digestion, and it can aid sleep and boost the immune system to prevent illness. The oil is an anti-inflammatory and an astringent which can kill harmful germs and bacteria (flu and cold germs), is used in oral hygiene and can be mixed with a little water and used as an alternative to chemical household cleaners.
Stress-relieving bath soak Add a few drops of frankincense oil to a hot bath to relax, find peace and destress. When inhaled it has been shown to reduce heart rate and high blood pressure.
Immune booster Add 3 drops each of frankincense and myrrh essential oils to a diffuser.
Natural cold or flu medicine use frankincense essential oil to help provide relief from coughing. It can help eliminate phlegm inthe lungs and acts as an anti-inflammatory in the nasal passages, making breathing easier, even for those with allergies or asthma. Add a few drops to a cloth and inhale for the respiratory benefits or add to an oil diffuser.
Scars, wounds, stretch marks or acne remedy to help reduce the appearance of dark spots caused by acne blemishes, stretch marks, eczema and help with healing of surgical wounds. Mix two to three drops of oil with an unscented base oil such as grape or almond and apply directly to skin. Don’t apply to broken skin, but it will be fine for skin that’s in the process of healing.
Inflammation and pain relief improve circulation and lower symptom of joint pain or muscle pain related to conditions like arthritis, digestive disorders and asthma, by combining several drops if frankincense essential oil with a carrier oil and massage into the painful area, sore muscles, joints, feet or neck You can also add a drop of oil to steaming water and soak a towel in it, then place the towel on your body or over your face to inhale it to decrease muscle aches or add several drops to a diffuser.
Other things to consider
When buying essential oils, avoid any described as “fragrance oil” or “perfume oil” as these can be synthetic and won’t provide the desired health benefits. Instead, look for oils that say “pure essential oil” or “100% essential oil” for the highest quality essential oils.
Frankincense is also known to have blood-thinning effects, so if you have problems related to blood clotting avoid using it or consult a doctor first as the oil may have potential to negatively react with certain anticoagulant medications.
Written by: Maggi Martin
Edited by: Suzie Hacker
Photography & Illustration: Suzie Hacker