Could frankincense essential oil be the most important and versatile essential oil in your collection? What are the uses of frankincense oil? Frankincense is one of the most ancient medicinal remedies known to man. It has a fascinating history in many religions, particularly Christianity, where it was believed to have been given as a gift to Jesus by the wise men. It is considered by many to be a particularly uplifting and clarifying oil.
First, a Word of Warning
When choosing frankincense oil, avoid those labelled as “perfume oils” or “fragrance”; these are NOT therapeutic and do not have the health value of pure essential oils. Sourcing your oil from a trustworthy source is incredibly important. I have recently seen oils for sale at Bed, Bath & Beyond, Target and even Best Buy (yes, really!)
When I asked the employees if they could give me information about their sources, I got a lot of….blank stares LOL. Now, I’ll give them one thing–these oils are definitely cheap. And sometimes, cheap things are as good as their more expensive counterparts that claim to do the same thing (hello coconut oil! apple cider vinegar! castile soap!) But in this case, you get what you pay for. So please–choose wisely.
What is Frankincense Oil?
Frankincense is derived from the gummy resin that is found in the Boswellia trees. There are numerous varieties of Boswellia; most frankincense oils are derived from one of two trees: Boswellia Carterii and Boswellia Sacra.
Boswellia carterii is the more common and most frequently studied source of frankincense and contains high levels of boswellic acid. Numerous scientific studies have been performed on boswellic acid and can provide you with hours of fascinating reading if you’re so inclined,
Boswellia sacra, the source of Sacred Frankincense oil, grows primarily in Oman. This is considered the rarest and most highly prized form of frankincense in the world. Only one company is licensed to exported Boswellia Sacra oil from Oman. In addition, Sacred Frankincense oil has extremely high levels of a medicinally important compound called incensole acetate, a psycho-active and anti-inflammatory compound. According to Gary Young:
Incensole acetate, which is a very important compound found in frankincense resin, only shows up after 11 hours of distilling with agitation and 15 hours without agitation. 1
This is why it is extremely important to source your oils correctly if you hope to get any health supporting benefit from them-most companies simply cannot provide evidence that they distill their oils the necessary length of time. A very interesting and informative study incensole acetate was published in 2008, and demonstrated its role activating psychoactive channels in the body.
Top Ten Uses for Frankincense
- Smooths and supports aging skin. I recommend putting a couple of drops in coconut or apricot kernel oil.
- Supports the body in healing wounds when applied topically.
- Strengthens the body’s immune system when diffused or applied topically.
- Relieves stress and anxiety. I place a few drops in my bath along with epsom salts and emerge refreshed and calm.
- Helps the body’s aches and pains. For more information, check out this fascinating article at history.com
- Alleviates feelings of helplessness, loneliness and despair.
- Helps ease the body into a natural night time rhythm without using dangerous drugs or sleep aids. I diffuse it bedside and also apply a drop on the soles of my feet before bed.
- Helps teenage skin when going through hormonal rough patches. Use a carrier oil sparingly as the body is already producing excess sebum.
- Supports the female body’s natural transition as it enters midlife.
- Supports a healthy digestive system, and is a useful adjunct to aloe vera juice and apple cider vinegar when used sparingly. As a sufferer of IBS, I have found 2 drops frankincense along with 3 ounces of aloe vera juice daily to be of tremendous help.
A Personal Note
When I was studying for my Master’s in Traditional Chinese Medicine, one of the things I often found myself doing was assigning “personalities” to each of the Chinese herbs. I think this not only helped me remember them, but it also reflected what sort of character I felt each herb “possessed” or exuded.
I sometimes find myself doing the same thing with essential oils–not all, but the ones that particularly resonate with me. Frankincense, to be honest, is my absolute hands-down most favorite essential oil that I own. I use it daily, and I think of it as “The Comforter”. When I diffuse it, I am filled with a sense of peace and happiness, and when I use it internally or topically, I feel a sense of protection come over me.
I believe plants have a spiritual side, something beyond just their chemical components and the results of their scientific studies (my love of scientific studies notwithstanding). I think it’s this connection that we often find ourselves missing in modern times, and reconnecting with it can be a source of great joy. If you’re curious about learning more about the spiritual side of essential oils, I recommend reading Gabriel Mojay’s Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit: Restoring Emotional and Mental Balance with Essential Oils. Want to dig deeper? Check out The Healing Intelligence of Essential Oils by Kurt Schnaubelt, Phd. and The Secret Life of Plants by Tompkins and Bird.