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5 November 2021 / Laura Garvin Gomez

Frankincense Essential Oil: History, Uses and Benefits

Boost your mood and your immune system with this ancient incense. 

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Frankincense; hardened gum-like material (resin) that comes from the trunk of the Boswellia tree

Frankincense is a warming, uplifting oil that has stood guard over our health for centuries.

Frankincense is perhaps most famous for its Biblical connections, and tends to be at its highest level of popularity around the festive season for this reason.

Despite this infamous connection, frankincense oil has multiple health benefits that many people aren’t necessarily aware of. It can reduce stress, support the immune system, and tone the skin, among other things.

What is frankincense essential oil?

Sometimes referred to as “olibanum”, or by the botanical name root Boswellia, frankincense oil is extracted from the sap of the Boswellia tree - native to Oman, Somalia, Yemen, and other surrounding areas.

Either gently spicy or smooth and woody, frankincense comes in many varieties, largely based on the different regions they are derived from.

Gaining its name from the old French term “franc encens”, meaning quality incense, frankincense is renowned for its soothing, spiritual properties that help calm the mind and facilitate positivity.

What are the different types of frankincense essential oil?

There are a few variations of frankincense oil, most originating from about five different species of Boswellia trees.

The most prominent is Frankincense Carterii, native to the Red Sea area of Northwest Africa, which has a slightly more citrussy top note than other variations. Also prominent are Frankincense Serrata and Frankincense Frereana.

, or Indian Frankincense (Boswellia Serrata), is the more common of the two variations, originating from India and North Africa, and was used in the traditional Indian medicine system, Ayurveda.

, or Maydi Frankincense (Boswellia Frereana), comes from the Somali variation of the Boswellia tree and is considered the 'King of Frankincense' by Somali people.

All variations of frankincense have very similar properties and benefits, and are mainly distinguished by scent.

What are the health benefits of Frankincense Essential Oil?

Choosing the best frankincense oil variety for you largely comes down to personal scent preferences, as each one contains a great deal of equal benefits for the mind and body.

Some frankincense oil benefits include:

  • Lifting mood
  • Boosting immunity
  • Improving skin
  • Aiding digestion

    Burning frankincense in a metal goblet.

    Does frankincense oil help with mood?

    with animal subjects found that frankincense had similar effects to common medications used for lifting low feelings and moods.

    Researchers noted that the oil activated TRPV3 channels in the brain, which are implicated in the perception of warmth in the skin.

    These channels promoted psychoactivity that led to a more positive mood.

    This suggests that frankincense’s warming effects can promote mental positivity and decrease negative emotions.

    Can frankincense essential oil help with immunity?

    Frankincense oil has also been found to be very beneficial to the body’s ability to fight against infection.

    found that frankincense oil exhibits strong immunostimulant activity, which means that it can facilitate increased immune responses.

    These immune-boosting effects help frankincense oil to improve our breath, body odour, energy levels, and overall health. 

    For example, a  showed that these effects help frankincense can help the body to tackle gingivitis. 

    Using frankincense oil for the skin

    Frankincense oil has been found to be beneficial for the skin in multiple ways.

    found that frankincense can reduce redness and irritation, whilst also producing a more even skin tone.

    On top of this, frankincense oil is astringent, which means that it can help increase the skin’s elasticity as well as reduce the appearance of wrinkles.

    It’s been suggested that the pentacyclic triterpene structure of frankincense oil is what allows it to soothe skin and boost its appearance.

    This structure has occasionally been described as ‘steroid-like’ due to its potent effects.

    Try mixing a few drops of frankincense oil with a carrier oil and applying to skin to experience these benefits.

    Can frankincense essential oil aid digestion?

    found that the Boswellic acids present in frankincense can help to treat chronic inflammatory disease and soothe the gut.

    This isn’t the only way in which frankincense oil can aid gentle and effective digestion, however.

    It’s also been found to speed up the secretion of digestive enzymes, increase urination production, improve circulation, and relax the muscles of the digestive tract.

    All of this means that a diluted amount of frankincense oil applied to the stomach can possibly reduce gastric distress and promote gut health.

    How can frankincense essential oil be used? 

    Aromatherapy 

    Frankincense essential oil is perhaps most commonly utilised using the known practice of aromatherapy. 

    Diffusing this smooth and woody scent throughout your home can help relieve symptoms of low mood as well as provide a brightening atmosphere to maintain feelings of positivity and security. 

    Combine 5-7 drops of the oil with water and add to an oil burner or diffuser for a fresh aroma with notes of lemon and pine. 

    Alternatively, you can simply hold a bottle of frankincense essential oil to your nose and gently inhale - or add a few drops to a tissue or cotton ball for on-the-go aromatherapy. 

    Massage 

    Due to its immune-boosting properties, frankincense essential oil makes for a great at-home massage remedy for gastric stress, energy levels and prevention of infections. 

    Dilute 5 drops to 10ml of carrier oil (such as  or  oil) and massage evenly into the skin. 

    We always advise performing a patch test before applying frankincense essential oil to the skin. 

    Bath  

    Add 6-8 drops of frankincense essential oil to warm bathwater for a peaceful ad reassuring experience for the body. 

    Adding frankincense oil to your bath can carry many of the same therapeutic benefits as aromatherapy, as the scent will carry through and fill the air with a pure, relieving aroma. 

    This is also a good option if you’re experiencing negative feelings, as a warm bath combined with frankincense’s mood-boosting properties can be extremely beneficial. 

    Skincare  

    Add a couple of drops of frankincense essential oil to a carrier oil (such as sweet almond or jojoba oil) or your chosen lotion and spread evenly, or onto affected areas.

    The astringent properties found in frankincense make it a great choice for a DIY skin cleanser, as it can help get rid of fine lines and wrinkles, increase elasticity, and boost its appearance. 

    We always advise performing a patch test before using frankincense essential oil on the skin. 

    Soap & Candles  

    Suitable for soap making and candle making. We recommend following a tested recipe.

    Looking for creative ways to use your frankincense essential oil? Discover a number of fun candle and soap recipes in our Make at Home blog section.

    History of Frankincense Essential Oil

    The deeply religious roots of frankincense are certainly well known, however its history goes far beyond being offered as a gift to baby Jesus or its ties as Jewish incense.

    Frankincense oil was used by the Ancient Egyptians in their own religious rites - appearing on wall murals dating back to 480BC - as well as in parts of China and elsewhere in the East as a traditional remedy for both internal and external ailments.

    Frankincense is also said to have been traded in North Africa and the Middle East for more than 5000 years.

    The citrusy, woody, pine-fresh smell of frankincense makes it a popular choice for cosmetic products and, as discussed, a highly beneficial one as well.

    Once one of the most expensive and sought-after natural remedies in the world, it is now readily available to us in ways that our ancestors couldn't have dreamed of. We should be sure to take full advantage of frankincense oil's modern-day accessibility.

    Shop our frankincense essential oil here.

    Product Name

    100% Pure Frankincense Serrata (Indian) Essential Oil
    Botanical Name Boswellia Serrata
    Scent Type Earthy
    Benefits & Uses Immune-Boosting, Skin, Digestive Aid
    Suitable for Diffusers? Yes, this frankincense serrata (indian) essential oil is perfect for diffusers.
    Suitable for Candles and Soaps? Yes, this frankincense serrata (indian) essential oil is perfect for candle and soap making.
    Extraction Method Steam Distillation
    Bottle Type Tamper proof and UV resistant

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