Frankincense is widely believed to be one of the gifts offered by the three wise men to the newborn Jesus. Long-revered in the Middle East, it’s been used in religious ceremonies for thousands of years. It’s even been found in the remains of Anglo-Saxons and ancient Egyptians.
However, the oil has long-since transcended its original symbolic meanings and is now also used as an essential oil for aromatherapy and other natural health practices.
OILS AND FRAGRANCES
Firstly, never confuse the essential oil with fragrance oil. Whilst essential oils come from plants, a fragrance oils is usually an artificially-created product and may well contain synthetic chemicals. It will probably smell good, and should definitely be cheaper than an essential oil, but be warned – there are no actual therapeutic benefits like you would find in an organic essential oil. And if you are ingesting the oil for medical purposes, it must be 100% pure essential oil – nothing else.
WHAT IS FRANKINCENSE?
Solid frankincense (resin) is traditionally burned as incense, and was charred and ground into a powder to produce the heavy kohl eyeliner used by Egyptian women. Today, this resin is steam-distilled to produce an aromatic essential oil with many benefits.
Frankincense oil has a woody, earthy, spicy, and slightly fruity aroma, which is calming and relaxing. It’s said to be sweeter, fresher, and cleaner than frankincense resin.
WHERE DOES IT COME FROM?
Also known as Olibanum, it comes from the Boswellia tree (found in African and Arabian regions). Milky white sap is extracted from the bark of the tree and then then left to harden into a gum resin over for several days. This is then scraped off in tear-shaped droplets.
Oman is the best known and most ancient source of frankincense, where it’s been traded and shipped to other places like the Mediterranean, India, and China for thousands of years.
WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE?
The highest-quality frankincense oil is clear and silvery, but with a slight green tinge. Brown-yellow varieties are the cheapest and most readily available. In Oman, the best frankincense is usually reserved for the sultan and is rarely shipped out of the country.
THE USES OF FRANKINCENSE OIL
Known for its comforting properties, and for helping to improve one’s spiritual connection, overcoming stress and helplessness.
It has anti-inflammatory properties and also acts as an astringent, antiseptic, disinfectant, digestive and diuretic. It also has expectorant properties.
Other uses include:
* Treating dry skin
* Reversing signs of ageing
* Reducing the appearance of stretch marks and scars
* Strengthening gums and hair roots
* Stems bleeding
* Speeds up healing of acne, insect bites, boils and cuts.
Aromatherapy: Here, the oil is either inhaled or diffused via a vaporizer – a very effective sedative that induces a feeling of mental peace, relaxation, and satisfaction, helping to relieve anxiety, anger, and stress. Topical : Massaged into the skin, it can provide a multitude of benefits
Ingested: If you are to swallow this oil, make sure it is 100% pure and follow the guidelines as to how many drops per liquid ratio you should take.
Soak: Try it as a bath soak to relieve stress
Cleaning: Use it to clean your home too! Add a few drops to some warm water as it’s a natural deodoriser and antiseptic.
Frankincense oil has been found useful for certain health conditions, such as:
* Arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) – Cardiff University carried out some research that confirmed how frankincense can inhibit the production of key inflammatory molecules, helping prevent the breakdown of the cartilage tissue that causes these conditions.
* Colds and respiratory disorders – Frankincense oil can break up phlegm deposits in your respiratory tract and lungs, and can relieve bronchitis-related congestion.
* Oral health problems – The antiseptic qualities of this oil can help prevent bad breath, cavities, toothaches, mouth sores, and other infections.
* Digestive disorders – Frankincense oil speeds up the secretion of gastric juices, bile, and acids.
* Uterine health – Frankincense oil regulates estrogen production in women and reduces the risk of post-menopause tumor or cyst formation in the uterus
(uterine cancer). It also regulates the menstrual cycle of premenopausal women.
Frankincense is generally safe but as always, use with caution. Do a spot test to see if there is any sensitivity to this oil. In rare cases, the oil has caused skin rashes. Frankincense essential oil is also not recommended for pregnant women and nursing mothers, as it may induce menstruation, which may be dangerous for an unborn foetus.