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5 November 2021 / Caitlin Devlin

Frankincense Essential Oil: History, Uses and Benefits

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

Frankincense Essential Oil: History, Uses and Benefits

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

Frankincense is most famous for its Biblical connection, and tends to be popular around the festive season. However, 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.

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.

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

Frankincense Frereana, or Maydi Frankincense, 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.

Frankincense essential oil can help to lift mood.

A study in 2008 with animal subjects found that frankincense had antidepressant effects. 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.

    It can give the immune system a boost.

    Frankincense oil has also been found to be very beneficial to the body’s ability to fight against infection. A 2003 study 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 study in 2011 showed that these effects help frankincense can help the body to tackle gingivitis. 

    It’s beneficial for the skin.

    Frankincense oil has been found to be beneficial for the skin in multiple ways. A study in 2013 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 increase skin elasticity and 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 can be described as ‘steroid-like’.

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

    It can aid digestion

    A study in 2002 found that the Boswellic acids 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 – 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 reduce gastric distress and promote gut health.

     

    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 wouldn'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.

     

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