Straight from biblical times, drawn on the old temple walls of Egypt, frankincense is a 5000-year old favorite in natural remedies. And that’s not just because of its earthy wooden smell. It is believed that Egyptian queens would burn frankincense resin to cleanse the air from impurities and germs. Early Africans would chew on frankincense for oral health.
Frankincense is a resin derived from the tree “Boswellia carterii,” found in Somalia. Known as “dhoopan” in Ayurveda, frankincense has been used for centuries to calm vata and pitta doshas by releasing anxiety and nervousness. It is also been to known to give your mood a boost by clearing out excess kapha. But there’s more to it.
Thanks to immense research, the use of frankincense oil has gained momentum. Here is why you need to add the essential oil in your medicine cabinet.
1. Boosts Your Immunity
Our immune system is what gives us the power to ward off infections and heal wounds. Frankincense oil contains a compound known as boswellic acids. This has been found to modify the immune system. A study done on mice reveals that frankincense helped improve T-cell interactions (the part of our immune system that responds to a foreign substance in our bodies), boost immunoglobins (aka antibodies which fight bacteria and viruses), and slowed down hypersensitivity (which causes the immune system to react undesirably to a foreign substance such as in the case of allergies and autoimmunity).1 The use of frankincense oil also aids in better absorption of nutrients. All great things for your immune system!
How to use it:
- Mix one drop of frankincense oil with a teaspoon of coconut oil and a teaspoon of honey (optional). You could do this once or twice a week. For the perfect dosage recommendation, please check with your aromatherapist.
- Another option is to place one drop of frankincense oil under your tongue.2 However, be sure to consult a professional before you do so.
2. Treats Wounds
One research pointed out that frankincense’s anti-microbial properties effectively prevent infections.3 This could be why frankincense is believed to speed up the healing process for minor cuts and wounds. This includes razor burns as well!
How to use it:
- For wounds, rub a little lavender oil onto the affected area and follow it up with a few drops of frankincense oil diluted in a few drops of coconut oil. Lavender oil is also known to speed up wound healing because it helps destroy bacteria.4
3. Relieves Stress And Anxiety
Do you feel stressed out at the end of your day? Add a little frankincense oil to a diffuser and put your feet up. Studies have shown that, when inhaled, frankincense lowers heart rate and blood pressure, in turn, relieving anxiety. Research has also shown that it has depression-reducing abilities but does not come with any negative side effects or drowsiness.5 Besides this, when combined with bergamot and lavender and diluted in sweet almond oil, frankincense can boost your mood and make you feel energized.6
How to use it:
- Dilute frankincense oil in sweet almond oil and rub this onto the bottom of your feet.7
- You could also add a few drops of the oil to your bath.8
4. Treats Respiratory Issues
Frankincense oil can give you relief from a stuffy nose. Studies state that the anti-inflammatory properties of frankincense oil can cut down phlegm buildup and congestion in your nose and lungs.9 This makes it a great source of relief to people with allergies, asthma, and bronchitis.
How to use it:
- Add frankincense oil to a diffuser and keep it in your bedroom.
- For quick relief, squirt a few drops of the oil onto a cloth and inhale every few minutes.
5. Promotes Oral Health
If you’re looking for a natural way to keep your oral health game strong, frankincense oil is the way to go. Its antiseptic properties prevent common oral issues like gingivitis, cavities, canker sores, and nasty breath.10 It’s no wonder early civilizations would chew frankincense resin to strengthen their teeth and gums.
- 2 drops of peppermint essential oil
- 1 drop of Frankincense essential oil
- A pinch of salt
- Add water as required. It should have the same consistency of an ordinary mouthwash.
- Mix the ingredients together and gargle. You can do this once a week.
6. Regulates Menstrual Cycle
Looking for a safe way to regulate your menstrual cycle? Frankincense oil can help you. Research has shown that frankincense can help regulate estrogen production and your menstrual cycle.11
Take a sigh of relief, ladies. Frankincense oil can also help you to deal with the pains of PMS, like abdomen cramps, mood swings, and fatigue. It also claims the oil can help reduce chances of uterine cyst or tumor formation in post-menstrual women.
How to use it:
- All you need to do is to add 2-3 drops of frankincense oil to 1ml of primrose oil.12 Massage the combined oil onto your abdominal area.
- Put two drops of frankincense essential oil and two drops of sandalwood oil over your abdomen. Massage the area gently for relief. Sandalwood is known to reduce pain from endometriosis, a condition in which the skin from the uterus grows out of the uterus.13
7. Prevents Scarring
If you’ve been using topical creams to get rid of acne scars, stretch marks, or marks left behind by wounds, you could add frankincense to the mix. Certain studies have found that it might improve wound healing while reducing the incidence of scarring.14
How to use it:
- Add 2 drops of frankincense essential oil to your moisturizer.15
- Mix lavender oil with frankincense oil essential oil. You can apply this mixture on your skin after a shower and before you sleep.16
8. Relieves Pain
Frankincense oil has been found to have anti-inflammatory properties, which have the potential to stop the production of inflammatory molecules that surround diseases like coeliac disease, hepatitis, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, and Crohn’s disease and cause pain.17 Besides this, the boswellic acid in frankincense prevents the breakdown of cartilage, which is common in the case of rheumatoid arthritis, hence relieving the discomfort that comes with it.18 19
How to use it:
- Add five drops of frankincense oil to a squirt of almond oil and apply it to your joints. Or you could apply a few drops of frankincense essential oil onto your palms and rub them. Almond oil is proven to be anti-inflammatory in nature.20
9. Promotes Sleep
If you find yourself tossing and turning in bed for several nights, save yourself the wrestle, and place a diffuser in your bedroom. Research states that diffusing frankincense oil into the air helps induce sleep.21 To add to this, centuries ago, frankincense resin was used to ward off evil spirits. So, no more nightmares!
How to use it:
- Simply add frankincense oil to your diffuser and let it do its work.
10. Aids Digestion
Research has proven that frankincense oil helps speed up things in the digestive department. It increases the secretion of gastric juices which in turn helps a smoother movement of food to down under. One study claims that boswellic acid (present in frankincense) can reduce the signs of a leaky gut syndrome, ulcerative colitis, and chronic colitis.22
How to use it:
- Add one drop of frankincense oil to 1 ml of sesame oil. Massage this mixture onto your abdomen to push out any feelings of flatulence and constipation. Sesame oil is known to improve circulation because of its high zinc content.23
11. Might Fight Cancer
There have been studies that reveal compounds in frankincense can help destroy stubborn cancer cells that chemotherapy hasn’t been able to. One line of research gives credit to a compound known as AKBA (Acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid) present in frankincense that eliminated leftover cancer cells that had become resistant to chemotherapy. This could be because cancer is known to cause inflammation while frankincense is known to work against it.
Research also states that frankincense oil might work against the malignant cells of breast cancer.24 25 Do keep in mind these studies were done in vitro, which translates to an experiment performed with cells outside their normal biological context.
How to use it:
Mix frankincense oil with raspberry seed oil, and tea tree oil. Massage the combined oil on the affected area twice a day.26
A Word Of Caution
- For the case of any essential oil, do make sure to do a spot test to check for any sensitivity.
- There has been a lot of debate regarding if frankincense oil is safe for pregnancy or not. Since the oil is a known emenagogue, it would be wise for pregnant women to avoid it until further research.
- When buying frankincense oil, make sure to look for something 100% pure and organic. For a safer bet, try to purchase a bottle from a qualified aromatherapist.
- You would need a carrier oil when using frankincense oil. The reason being frankincense might be a little harsh to take orally or directly on your skin.
- Carrier oils that work well with frankincense oil are coconut oil, jojoba oil, lavender oil, and almond oil.
- Lastly, when taking frankincense oil internally or applying it on the skin, please consult your neighborhood aromatherapist for a proper dosage.
|↑1||Khajuria, Anamika, Amit Gupta, Pankaj Suden, Surjeet Singh, Fayaz Malik, Jaswant Singh, B. D. Gupta et al. “Immunomodulatory activity of biopolymeric fraction BOS 2000 from Boswellia serrata.” Phytotherapy research 22, no. 3 (2008): 340-348.|
|↑2||Snyder, Mariza. Smart Mom’s Guide to Essential Oils: Natural Solutions for a Healthy Family, Toxin-Free Home and Happier You. Ulysses Press, 2017|
|↑3||Van Vuuren, S. F., G. P. P. Kamatou, and A. M. Viljoen. “Volatile composition and antimicrobial activity of twenty commercial frankincense essential oil samples.” South African Journal of Botany 76, no. 4 (2010): 686-691.|
|↑4, ↑12||Lodhia, M. H., K. R. Bhatt, and V. S. Thaker. “Antibacterial activity of essential oils from palmarosa, evening primrose, lavender and tuberose.” Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences 71, no. 2 (2009): 134|
|↑5||Al-Yasiry, Ali Ridha Mustafa, and Bożena Kiczorowska. “Frankincense-therapeutic properties.” Advances in Hygiene & Experimental Medicine/Postepy Higieny i Medycyny Doswiadczalnej 70 (2016).|
|↑6||Anxious Or Feeling Down: Can Essential Oils Help? American College Of Healthcare Sciences.|
|↑7||Quick Reference Guide for Using Essential Oils. Abundant Health, 2005.|
|↑8||Highet, Juliet. Frankincense: Oman’s gift to the world. Prestel, 2006|
|↑9||Michie, Colin A., and E. Cooper. “Frankincense and myrrh as remedies in children.” Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 84, no. 10 (1991): 602-605.|
|↑10||Khosravi Samani, M., H. Mahmoodian, A. A. Moghadamnia, A. Poorsattar Bejeh Mir, and M. Chitsazan. “The effect of Frankincense in the treatment of moderate plaque-induced gingivitis: a double blinded randomized clinical trial.” Daru 19, no. 4 (2011).|
|↑11||Buckle, Jane. “Essential oils: Management and treatment of gynecologic infections and stressors.” Sexuality, Reproduction and menopause 4, no. 1 (2006): 38-41.|
|↑13||Ali, Babar, Naser Ali Al-Wabel, Saiba Shams, Aftab Ahamad, Shah Alam Khan, and Firoz Anwar. “Essential oils used in aromatherapy: A systemic review.” Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine 5, no. 8 (2015): 601-611.|
|↑14||Han, Xuesheng, Damian Rodriguez, and Tory L. Parker. “Biological activities of frankincense essential oil in human dermal fibroblasts.” Biochimie Open 4 (2017): 31-35.|
|↑15||Snyder, Mariza. Smart Mom’s Guide to Essential Oils: Natural Solutions for a Healthy Family, Toxin-Free Home and Happier You. Ulysses Press, 2017|
|↑16, ↑26||L.Reardon, Tamikio. The Benefits of Natural and Essential Oils Quick Guide: Healthy/Cooking/Beauty. Createspace, 2016|
|↑17||Siddiqui, M. Z. “Boswellia serrata, a potential anti-inflammatory agent: an overview.” Indian journal of pharmaceutical sciences 73, no. 3 (2011): 255.|
|↑18||Al-Harrasi, Ahmed, Liaqat Ali, Javid Hussain, Najeeb Ur Rehman, Mansoor Ahmed, and Ahmed Al-Rawahi. “Analgesic effects of crude extracts and fractions of Omani frankincense obtained from traditional medicinal plant Boswellia sacra on animal models.” Asian Pacific journal of tropical medicine 7 (2014): S485-S490.|
|↑19||Cardiff University. “A wise man’s treatment for arthritis: Frankincense?.” ScienceDaily. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110621121316.htm (accessed March 2, 2017).|
|↑20||Ahmad, Zeeshan. “The uses and properties of almond oil.” Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice 16, no. 1 (2010): 10-12|
|↑21||Steflitsch, Wolfgang, and Michaela Steflitsch. “Clinical aromatherapy.” Journal of Men’s Health 5, no. 1 (2008): 74-85|
|↑22||Ammon, H. P. “Boswellic acids (components of frankincense) as the active principle in treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases.” Wiener medizinische Wochenschrift (1946) 152, no. 15-16 (2001): 373-378.|
|↑23||Deosthale, Y. G. “Trace element composition of common oilseeds.” Journal of the American Oil Chemists Society 58, no. 11 (1981): 988-990|
|↑24||Frank, Mark Barton, Qing Yang, Jeanette Osban, Joseph T. Azzarello, Marcia R. Saban, Ricardo Saban, Richard A. Ashley, Jan C. Welter, Kar-Ming Fung, and Hsueh-Kung Lin. “Frankincense oil derived from Boswellia carteri induces tumor cell specific cytotoxicity.” BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 9, no. 1 (2009): 6.|
|↑25||Suhail, Mahmoud M., Weijuan Wu, Amy Cao, Fadee G. Mondalek, Kar-Ming Fung, Pin-Tsen Shih, Yu-Ting Fang, Cole Woolley, Gary Young, and Hsueh-Kung Lin. “Boswellia sacra essential oil induces tumor cell-specific apoptosis and suppresses tumor aggressiveness in cultured human breast cancer cells.” BMC complementary and alternative medicine 11, no. 1 (2011): 129|