Frankincense Oil – The King of Essential Oils

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Yes, that’s a bold title, but this amazing essential oil truly has much to offer!

It is a natural essential oil that has many benefits for both physical and emotional health. It can be used to improve respiratory function, reduce stress levels, induce relaxation and improve skin health. Frankincense oil is also known for its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, making it a valuable addition to any natural health regimen.

Let’s explore some of the fantastic benefits of Frankincense essential oil.

What is Frankincense oil and where does it come from?

It’s a valuable extract with a long history of use as a medicine and in religious ceremonies. The name comes from an old French phrase, ‘franc escens’, which translates to ‘quality incense’. It is still used for ceremonial purposes today in Christianity, Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox churches.

The History of Frankincense oil

The Egyptians used it in their religious ceremonies and also used it to embalm their dead. It is also very well known as being part of the trilogy of gifts brought to the birth of Jesus by the three kings.

It was also used in Ancient Greece and Rome for medicinal purposes. During the Middle Ages, it was one of the most valuable commodities in the world. It was traded along the Silk Route and was worth more than its weight in gold. With such a long history of use, it’s easy to see how it is still one of the most popular essential oils in the world.

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How is Frankincense oil extracted?

The first step in extracting Frankincense oil is peeling the bark on the tree away from the trunk with a knife. This is a very labour-intensive process. A milk-white sap exudes from the cuts and peeling bark, which hardens into a resin over the next few days. These chunks of Frankincense resin are scraped off and sent to be processed.

It’s then necessary to crush the chunks of Frankincense resin into a powder before it goes for steam distillation. The vapour from the steam distillation is put through a condenser to cool it down, and the oil floats to the surface. The remaining water is sold as a hydrosol, which also has many of the benefits of Frankincense. CO2 extraction is being increasingly used as the cost of this method of production goes down.

Varieties of Frankincense essential oils

Frankincense oil comes from the resin of the Boswellia tree, which is native to North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, the Middle East, and India. There are several varieties of the Boswellia tree, each producing a slightly different resin and subsequent essential oil. The changes occur with different climates and growing conditions, even within the same variety. Different harvest times can also yield different coloured resins. Any of these different varieties of Frankincense oils will be amazing to use.

Boswellia carterii

This is the most commonly known one, as much research has been done on it. It has a crisp, light, soft aroma. This is what many people associate with the fragrance of quality incense.

Boswellia neglecta

This variety has a warm, sweet, balsamic aroma, like a mix of soft vanilla and amber with just the slightest hint of camphor.

Boswellia sacra

This resin comes from the Boswellia Sacra tree and occurs as white, green and amber depending on the growing conditions and harvest time. It has a haunting aroma that is light with a hint of sweet floral.

Boswellia serrata

This variety has a light, refreshing, lemony top note with a balsamic, much stronger, woody aroma.

Boswellia frereana

This variety has a powerful, deep, woody aroma with a hint of lemon. It is also called “Maydi“, which translates as “King of Frankincense essential oils“, and Copti, which refers to its use by the Coptic church of Egypt.

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The therapeutic properties of Frankincense essential oil

Frankincense oil has quite a wide range of therapeutic and practical physical and lifestyle benefits.

Frankincense is a natural astringent

Frankincense essential oil can cause skin cells to contract, which will not only lift skin that is sagging but is also the catalyst for skin cell regeneration. This is most effective when used regularly and goes to explain why it has such an excellent anti-ageing reputation. It can also repair the damage from scars and improve the skin’s appearance.

This astringency combines well with Frankincense’s antimicrobial and disinfectant qualities. Use it diluted as a spray surface cleanser for a healthier and great-smelling home. Blend it with Thyme essential oil to boost this even further.

Its anti-inflammatory properties can help decrease Inflammation and Pain

This natural remedy has been used for centuries to treat various ailments, and recent scientific studies have shown that it is effective in treating inflammatory conditions like arthritis as it reduces the inflammatory response. The boswellic acids in Frankincense essential oil inhibit the production of inflammatory enzymes. The essential oil’s anti-inflammatory effects may also help individuals cope with their pain levels.

It’s very popular with massage therapists for clients with muscular and joint pain. You can make your own cream containing Frankincense that will help those coping with arthritis symptoms, especially when your joints are stiff in the mornings. Adding a few drops to a plain bubble bath can really make your day start better.

Frankincense oil can help your breathing

It relaxes the muscles between the ribs, so you can increase the capacity of your chest and breathe deeper, getting greater lung expansion. It also slows down your breathing, which also stops you hyperventilating. It’s great for use with mild asthma, but please check with your doctor.

It may help boost immune system function and prevent illness

Researchers believe that it works by reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol. It is also known to relax the intercostal muscles between the ribs, allowing you to breathe deeper and slower, calming you down. If you’re looking for a natural way to reduce stress and improve your mood, consider Frankincense oil. Just a few drops in a diffuser can make a big difference.

It may help balance hormones

Frankincense essential oil is thought to work by stimulating the release of oxytocin, a hormone that plays a role in labour, breastfeeding, and social bonding. Frankincense oil may also help to reduce stress and anxiety, which can also help manage hormone levels.

It certainly helps to balance sebum production in your skin, helping to clear acne whilst moisturising dry and mature skin. Blend Frankincense essential oil with another essential oil like Manuka essential oil or Myrrh oil to really sort out irritated skin and troublesome acne.

It protects the skin and may prevent the signs of ageing

This is perhaps the most popular of Frankincense oil uses – essential oil infused skincare.

Frankincense essential oil effectively minimises wrinkles and fine lines when applied topically to the skin, speeding up cellular renewal. It is also preventative as it slows down the damage caused by photoaging. You can strengthen skin by combining it with Helichrysum essential oil and Pomegranate Seed carrier oil to make a super potent rejuvenating serum.

It’s suitable for all skin types, particularly dry and mature skin. Even problematic acne skin can be improved by using Frankincense essential oil. It has long been used to help heal cuts and wounds and smooth out skin imperfections. Research has shown it to be particularly effective when blended with Myrrh essential oil. You can see why these two were such useful, practical gifts brought by the Three Kings.

Frankincense can act as a sleep aid

Adding several drops to a diffuser or using it in a body lotion before bed will increase relaxation and calm you, ready for a good night’s sleep. It decreases distraction and stops your mind from wandering. Even better, it helps to reduce stress and negative emotions. Just let go and let the essential oil take the strain.

Find out more about The Power of Aromatherapy for Restful Sleep

It may help to improve concentration, boost mood and promote relaxation

This may sound conflicting, having just read about how relaxing it is, but in a daytime environment, it is amazing for sharpening your mental focus without the side effects that caffeine would have.

Find out more about The Top 12 Essential Oils for Focus and Concentration.

Its uses in haircare

Are you bothered by dandruff? Add Frankincense essential oil to your shampoo or conditioner (Purodem will show you how to make high-quality hair products). Just like it conditions your skin, it will condition your scalp, so you no longer have flaky dandruff!

It makes an excellent natural household cleaner

Frankincense essential oil is a good antiseptic and disinfectant agent to kill harmful germs and viruses in the home by cleaning the surrounding air. It’s helpful for deodorising interior spaces and is much nicer to use than chemical household cleaners.

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How to use Frankincense oil

There are many uses and benefits of Frankincense essential oil. Of course, you should use it in a diffuser or nebuliser to freshen the air in your home. Use it to relax while spending time with your family, or use it on your own to help with meditation. Tip… Try blending it with Ho Wood essential oil for a meditative blend.

Add it to bath bombs, bath salts, shampoo and conditioner for incredible results.

Use it in face and body oils, serums, creams and lotions to improve skin imperfections. Massages for aching joints and muscular pain are much better when using Frankincense in a massage blend. You could add many other oils for pain relief, but one of the best is Plai oil, a powerful analgesic. This blend would even help with rheumatoid arthritis.

Using Frankincense essential oil safely

Do not use it on children under six, and keep the bottle away from inquisitive toddlers.

Do not use Frankincense essential oil if you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant.

Anyone with bleeding disorders should also not use this as it is an emmenagogue with blood-thinning effects. If you are in any doubt, please consult your doctor or aromatherapist.

Ongoing research with Frankincense essential oil

This research is a hot topic at the moment because Frankincense oil has a very good safety profile, and the areas that are now being researched could be very lucrative for drug companies.

There are several bacteria against which Frankincense essential oil is effective. Many essential oils are also bactericides, and the possibility of combining them in new ways is very interesting.

Ulcerative colitis has been shown to respond well with Frankincense essential oil in some trials, but it is early days yet, and this area needs more research.

Digestive disorders and irritable bowel syndrome are another area of interest, but were the anti-inflammatory properties or the anxiety-relieving Frankincense benefits that gave the positive results?

Some test tube studies on gum disease, mouth sores and oral infections suggested Frankincense essential oil may be of help. Still, there needs to be extensive human trials before it could be safe to recommend using it internally like this.

However, there is a downside to this interest as well. There are non-verifiable claims of using Frankincense to kill cancer cells in cancer treatment. It is not enough to have one test tube study to call this a credible cancer treatment, and even though it is promising, much more research needs to be done to be able to make such claims.

What to look for when purchasing Frankincense oil

When it comes to purchasing essential oils, not all companies are created equal. When looking for a reliable company to buy Frankincense essential oil from, avoid MLM companies because you want to buy the highest quality essential oils, not something blended with other, cheaper ingredients.

A good turnover rate is also a sign of a reputable company. A full INCI is another sign that you’re dealing with a reliable source.

With so many choices on the market, knowing what to look for when buying pure Frankincense essential oil is important.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Frankincense essential oil

Can you apply Frankincense oil directly to skin?

Before applying it to your skin, you should always dilute Frankincense essential oil with an unscented carrier oil. This will help to reduce the risk of irritation and other side effects. There are many carrier oils that you can use, depending on your individual needs and preferences. Some popular options include Jojoba oil, Coconut oil, and Sweet Almond.

How do you use Frankincense for ageing skin?

Choose an unscented carrier oil that you will dilute the Frankincense oil in. This should be suitable for your skin type. Camellia Seed oil is a good choice, as is Pomegranate Seed oil. You can also blend it with other essential oils, such as Helichrysum, to help repair sun damage. Citrus oils like Red Mandarin also boost the skin function and create an amazing aroma.

To use, apply a few drops of the mixture to your clean face and massage gently using upward strokes. This will help improve circulation and promote cell regeneration, which can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles over time.

Otherwise, add the Frankincense essential oil to a cream, lotion, or serum you have made for yourself.

What are the healing properties of Frankincense oil?

It can help improve skin tone and reduce wrinkles in mature skin. It is also effective in healing wounds and scars. Frankincense essential oil is a natural antiseptic and can be used to treat infections more easily than prescription medications.

What is the best way to use Frankincense essential oil?

There are many ways to use Frankincense essential oil. You can add a few drops to a diffuser or bracelet and enjoy the aroma throughout the day.

You can also add it to lotions or creams and apply it topically. You can make really effective serums and gels with it and even include it in shower gels and bath bombs!

Get some Frankincense essential oil if you’re looking for a more natural way to reduce stress or anxiety.

Is Frankincense a calming oil?

It helps you to breathe deeper and slower. This automatically calms you down and relaxes your muscles. It is calming and helps get your mind in a relaxed state. The Frankincense benefits have been known for centuries, which is why churches use it so much in ritual services. A thurible is a small charcoal burner on chains that the priest swings around. The Frankincense resin slowly burns and produces a high-quality incense aroma.

Can Frankincense be toxic?

Any essential oil has the potential to be toxic – IF it is used carelessly. Keep your bottles away from young children; never use the oils internally. You will find some companies with poorly trained staff telling you this is safe, but their oils are usually so heavily diluted that they have little potency. Of course, do not get essential oils into your eyes or in contact with sensitive mucous membranes. It’s a lot of common sense, as Frankincense oil has an excellent safety record.

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Final thoughts...

Frankincense essential oil has many therapeutic properties and positive health benefits. It can be used to help a variety of skin conditions, from dry and mature skin to acne-prone skin. It is phenomenal for promoting relaxation and easing stress. If you are looking for an essential oil with a multitude of uses as well as positive health benefits, give Frankincense a try!

Picture of Deana Kassim
Deana Kassim
Deana is the Director and Principle Tutor at Purodem. She is also a Member of International Federation of Aromatherapists (IFA), and a fully qualified aromatherapist, skincare formulator, and certified educator with over 20 years of professional experience.

Disclaimer: Our website content is for advertisement, informational and educational purposes only. Purodem does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Professional advice should always be sought before using essential oils.

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