Frankincense is an aromatic gum resin obtained from an African tree (Boswellia family of trees) and burnt as incense. The entire species of Boswellia is commonly known as Frankincence.
The milky white sap is extracted from the tree bark, allowed to harden into a gum resin for several days, and then scraped off in tear-shaped droplets. Boswellia has been for centuries in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine to treat a range of health issues.
Uses Of Frankincense Oil
Frankincense, is a common type of essential oil used in aromatherapy that can offer a variety of health benefits including:
- Helping relieve chronic stress and anxiety;
- Reducing pain and inflammation;
- Boosting immunity and even fighting cancer;
- Promoting healthy cell regeneration;
- Useful for skin health, and can help treat dry skin, reverse signs of aging, and reduce the appearance of stretch marks and scars;
- Strengthen gums and hair roots;
- Stop wounds from bleeding; and
- Speed up the healing of cuts, acne, insect bites, and boils.1
Cancer Fighting Properties Of Frankincense
Gum resins of Boswellia species contain active ingredients that have potent anti-cancer activity. Using the compound AKBA (acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid) derived from the resin, various research studies has successfully shown its effectiveness as a potential treatment for brain, breast, colon, pancreatic, prostate and stomach cancers.
According to various studies, the potential cancer-killing properties of frankincense are due to the regulating cellular epigenetic machinery which highlights its ability to influence genes to promote healing.
Cancer cells develop when the DNA code or information within the cell’s nucleus becomes corrupted. Frankincense separates the ‘brain’ of the cancerous cell – the nucleus – from the ‘body’ – the cytoplasm, and closes down the nucleus to stop it reproducing corrupted DNA codes, thus, preventing the formation of cancerous cells.2
Frankincense Cancer Research
1. Ovarian Cancer
Using the compound AKBA (acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid) derived from the resin, research has successfully shown its potential effectiveness in targeting ovarian cancer and has been able to demonstrate the ability of AKBA to combat cancer cells in late-stage ovarian cancer.
Researchers found that boswellic acids are toxic to ovarian cancer cells at pharmacologically achievable concentrations and may form the basis of a novel anti-cancer treatment for ovarian cancer, perhaps alongside conventional chemotherapy.
2. Breast Cancer
Studies suggest that Frankincense essential oil may be effective for advanced breast cancer. In a study, researchers tested the healing properties of Frankincense essential oil and found that it was significantly potent against breast cancer cell lines.3
3. Colon Cancer
AKBA (compound derived from Frankincense) prevents the growth of colonic adenocarcinoma through modulation of multiple signaling pathways. AKBA could be a promising agent in the prevention of colonic cancers.4
4. Skin Cancer
Basal-Cell Carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of skin cancer. Traditionally used for aromatherapy, frankincense essential oil prepared by hydro-distillation of Boswellia sacra gum resins, also possesses anti-cancer activity that can potentially provide non-surgical and non-invasive treatment option for BCC by topical application.
5. Stomach And Pancreatic Cancer
AKBA could be useful in the treatment of gastric cancers. Studies have also demonstrated that AKBA can suppress the growth and metastasis of human pancreatic tumors.5
For Consumption: In What Forms And How Much?
Frankincense can be administered in a therapeutically acceptable dosage, mode and/or manner such as:
The mode and method of dosage depends on the health and/or physical and mental condition of the patient being treated, the health care practitioner or the doctor prescribing the said preparation.
As a supplement, if using boswellia serrata resin itself, doses can increase up to 1,800 mg taken thrice a day (5,400 mg daily), but are usually in the range of 800-1,200 mg taken thrice a day to total a daily dose of 2,400-2,600 mg. Within this range, benefits appear to be dose-dependent.
For all forms of boswellia serrata, it is advisable to start at the lower end of the dosage range for 2-3 months and afterwards increase the dose. If greater benefits are not seen with a higher dose (ie. the benefits are similar to a lower dose) then continue supplementation with a lower dose.
Boswellia has a history of general anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects making it a very interesting herb and it appears to be fairly non-toxic. However, it is advisable to take it under the guidance of a certified practitioner.6