Can Frankincense Help Relieve Depression?

Can Frankincense Help Relieve Depression

Frankincense is an aromatic resin that has been used for thousands of years for medicinal, spiritual and ceremonial purposes. Frankincense resin is made from the sap of trees in the Boswellia genus and can come in the form of an oil, liquid resin and crystallized resin. The aroma of frankincense is uniquely warm, deep, rich, and incense-like.

Essential oils like Frankincense are volatile oils that contain aromatic molecules that can have a very powerful effect on our emotions and mood. Hence, they have effects on parts of our brain that control stress, anxiety, fear, and depression.


For many, frankincense oil provides a natural solution for mild to moderate cases of depression. This oil is a good alternative to common antidepressant medications, which act slow, and can have various side effects.

Frankincense Essential Oil For Depression

Frankincense contains Incensole Acetate, one of the main neuro-active components present in it. Incensole acetate is a compound that stimulates the Transient Receptor Potential Vanilloid (TRPV3). The stimulation has been shown to relieve anxiety and depression in animal studies.


A 2008 study reported that frankincense smoke was a psychoactive drug that relieves depression and anxiety in mice. The researchers found that the chemical compound incensole acetate was responsible for the effects.1

Calming Effect

Frankincense essential oil has a calming effect on the mind and the oil is used in the management of depression and chronic anxiety. Its organic, woody scent uplifts the mood and has been found to have a balancing and regulating effect in people who suffer from extreme emotions and perpetual restlessness.


Frankincense Contains Sesquiterpenes

Frankincense essential oil can be extremely helpful in alleviating symptoms of depression because it contains sesquiterpenes, which contribute greatly to balancing hormones and emotions. They act to increase oxygenation of the pineal and pituitary glands in the brain, allowing for an ideal balance of emotion-regulating hormones.

Anti-Anxiety Effect

Moussaieff et al. reported the anti-anxiety effect of frankincense among rats. In another study, Burns et al. evaluated the effect of aromatherapy with frankincense among pregnant women during delivery. Results of the mentioned study showed that using frankincense reduces the pain and anxiety among pregnant women during delivery.2


Effective Sedative

Frankincense Oil is very effective as a sedative because it induces a feeling of mental peace, relaxation, satisfaction and spirituality. Frankincense essential oil promotes deep breathing and relaxation, which can open your breathing passages and reduce blood pressure, moving your mental state back to calmness.3

How Is Frankincense Used To Relieve Depression?

Essential oils such as Frankincense oils, mitigate depression and feelings of helplessness. Essential oils are generally used in four ways:

  • Aromatically
  • Topically
  • Internally
  • Externally (i.e. around the home)

The appropriate dose and method of application of frankincense depend on several factors such as the user’s age, health, and several other conditions. At this time, there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for frankincense.

However, the following methods have been followed traditionally to relieve depression:

  • You can apply a few drops to the back of the neck and especially around the brain stem, two or more times daily.
  • While essential oils can be used topically, aromatherapy, or the inhaling of essential oils, is the most powerful way to treat anxiety. According to the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy, aromatherapy seeks to unify physiological, psychological, and spiritual processes to enhance an individual’s innate healing process.
  • You can place a few drops on your palms, rub them together, cup hands around nose and mouth, and breathe in deeply.
  • Frankincense resin can be placed on top of hot charcoal and subsequently produce smoke that contains neuro-active compounds that can relieve anxiety and depression. The smoke should not be inhaled directly, but should rather be placed in a room where the person will reside in for a couple of hours.
  • You can diffuse frankincense oil in a steam vaporizer throughout the day. This constant exposure to the vapor alleviates both emotional and physical symptoms of depression.
  • For topical usage, add a few drops to an unscented carrier oil (such as almond or jojoba) or lotion and rub on any desired part of the body. Adding a couple of drops to a morning face regimen can help set the stage for increased mental function throughout the rest of the day.

There are no known adverse side effects. However, before you begin any sort of regimen using essential oils, always consult with your physician, naturopath, or aromatherapist before doing so.