Essential Oil Spotlight: Frankincense
Frankincense may be one of the most well known essential oils & aromatic resins, and is often referred to as the King of oils. In fact, it is said to be one of the three gifts given to baby Jesus by the wise men, along with gold & myrrh. Sometimes referred to as Liquid Gold, frankincense is a treasured component found in products from skincare to medicinal formulations, and is also known for its ability to enhance the experience of mediation & worship. Officially known as Boswellia Sacra (the most common species for oil production), this shrubby tree grows naturally in Africa & the Arabian Peninsula. Aromatic resin is extracted through deep incision of the bark, where the sap or “tears” will drip and harden before they are collected. Essential oil is then obtained via steam distillation of the resin.
Emotionally, frankincense has been long known for its ability to enhance meditation & worship. Being a resin, it is associated with the Sahasrara or Crown Chakra, which relates to thoughts, contemplation, expression, abstraction, time and divinity. For spiritual and meditative purposes, Boswellia incense or resin can be burned, while the essential oil can be both diffused in the air and applied topically to pulse points, temples, and third eye. Frankincense can be used to relieve anxiety and tension, and displays antidepressant qualities. These benefits can be obtained through topical application of the essential oil, as well as through inhalation. It is true that “In inhalation aromatherapy, the inhaled air containing essential oils can not only reach the circulation system via the blood capillary network in the nose and the bronchi in the lungs but also stimulate brain areas directly via the olfactory epithelium” (Carke S.). Essentially, the olfactory system is equally capable of breaking down these molecules and allowing them to effectively enter the brain and stimulate a response- via essential oil inhaler tube, incense, resin burning, or combined with topical application.
The musculoskeletal system is yet another area where frankincense shines. Often seen in topical analgesics, frankincense displays anti-inflammatory and pain relieving qualities, and has shown to reduce swelling in joints. Isn't it no surprise that frankincense made its way into the 42020 Visionaries Muscle Soothing Salve, our most popular topical for pain relief?! Nicollete Perry, PhD states in Your Brain on Plants that “Frankincense is considered a safer anti inflammatory than corticosteroids for osteoarthritis treatment, and vets find it also works in dogs”. (118) Frankincense can also be taken orally through capsules / extract for both its anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulating (stimulates an immune response) effects. An oil of many qualities, frankincense is additionally praised for its correlation with the respiratory system. Boasting anti-catarrhal and decongestant effects, this monoterpene-rich essential oil can be used to help combat respiratory infections, clear and expel mucus from the lungs, and open up the respiratory pathways- through an essential oil facial steam, inhaler, and/or applied topically over the lungs.
Frankincense oil is one that you won’t want to leave out of the skin care routine! Prized for its benefits with aging skin and wrinkle reduction, frankincense has shown up in many high end beauty products and facial treatments. A drop of Boswellia in your favorite facial oil, cream or moisturizer will go a long way. Working to balance sebum production and reduce oil skin, frankincense can also be equally soothing to dry, itchy, or irritated skin & helps to dissolve black heads. Our refreshing facial oil is a lightweight oil consisting of jojoba (which also balances sebum production and our skins pH levels), pumpkin seed oil, & apricot kernel oil. The sweet, uplifting aroma comes from a light dilution of frankincense, ylang ylang, and wild orange essential oils. Although applying oil to your face may seem a bit intimidating at first… I promise that it will leave your skin smooth, bright & glowing, without clogging the pores or leaving a greasy film! Frankincense is also shown to promote wound healing and cellular regeneration. This makes it quite useful in terms of post operative wound healing, scratches or insect bites, and reduction of scars and burns.
The musky, lemony, pungent, and slightly spicy aroma of frankincense is one that really stands out from most others. All in all, frankincense has earned its title as the king of oils. It truly shines in so many areas, both psychologically and physiologically, and makes a statement in each one of them. The active components in frankincense react with the body in a way that leaves us feeling calm, yet uplifted, expansive, and crisp. With such a variety of uses and benefits, frankincense makes a great addition to most products, either on it’s own or blended with other oils that will support the function of the blend. Next time you sit down to do some yoga, read, write, or meditate, I encourage you to do so with a bottle of frankincense, or maybe even the resin itself. Take mental notes on how, and what you feel when it comes to this aroma. Think about the journey that this oil has gone on… from the beginning of its life contained within the trunk of the Boswellia, to dripping freely down its bark, and then being collected, cleaned, and distilled for its precious oil. If that isn’t magic, then I’m not quite sure what is!
I hope you enjoyed reading about the benefits of Frankincense essential oil. I would love to hear your questions & feedback in the comments section below.
Emails can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org with any additional questions, suggestions on future oils to cover, or to design a personal blend. Resources will be posted below.
In the 42020 Visionaries shop, we currently have a beautiful frankincense from Somalia that is available in 1mL samples, 3mL, and 15mL bottles.
The Healing Intelligence of Essential Oils Kurt Schnaubelt, PhD
Your Brain On Plants Nicolette Perry, PhD and Elaine Perry, PhD
One of my favorite sources for frankincense resin and specially distilled oils:
(Visit their shop if you are in NYC!)