It is likely, you have heard of frankincense, one of the gifts - mentioned in the Bible – a King’s treasure for the child Savior.
In the Hebrew language, frankincense is lebownah; which means “whiteness” referring to its milky color. Lebownah is a feminine noun denoting a state of love, life or a living tree. In English, frankincense - aka gum olibanum – is derived from an old French expression meaning “noble”, “pure”, “high-quality incense” or “free burning”. The root of frank means free, because when it burns it has a steady flame, illuminating for a long time.
So what exactly is frankincense?
Frankincense is the resin of the Boswellia sacra evergreen tree or a tree of similar species. When dried, it is glittery and brittle and has a bitter taste, with a distinct aroma some have described as woody, spicy and fruity.
The frankincense is harvested by cutting the trunk of the tree to bleed out the resin. The white resin that drips down the trunk of the tree and hardens is called the “tears”. The older the resin is, the yellower the color is. Resin is then distilled for extraction, crushed or burned as incense.
About the Boswellia Sacra Tree
It is common for the Boswellia sacra to grow in the harshest, most unforgiving of environments such as on a steep, coastal, rocky mountain slope. They are even known for their unusual ability to grow out of solid rock.
Its spreading flat crown and tangled drooping branches characterize the Boswellia sacra. The bark of the tree peels off in smooth, paper-like pieces and the leaves are pinnate with a rippling edge growing on the ends of the branches. Usually, Boswellia sacra are small, deciduous trees producing tiny, yellowish-white flowers. The trees are harvested when they are around 8-years-old. Some properly cared-for Boswellia sacra trees have been known to grow to be 40 feet high, producing resin all-year-round for up to 100 years.
Associated History of Frankincense
Frankincense has been used for thousands of years for animal sacrifice, religious ceremonies, embalming, and medicinally.
The Egyptians used frankincense in the process of embalming. In 1922, when the tomb of Tutankhamen was opened, there were sealed flasks, some of which contained frankincense oil. Even after more than 3,000 years, the scent from the frankincense was as powerful as if it were freshly made oil.
The Egyptian Papyrus Ebers is one of the oldest, most extensive, well-preserved records of herbal knowledge. In it, it recommends the priests to use frankincense for the treatment of wounds.
In India it is called Salai guggal and has traditionally been used in Ayuryedic medicinal compositions to treat ulcers, boils and abscesses. It was also said to counteract poisons, cure baldness, leprosy, worms, snakebites, diarrhea, scurvy, and even the plague.
Traditional Chinese medicine alleges frankincense can better blood circulation, relieve pain, and improve digestion.
For thousands of years the fragrance of frankincense has been used as a perfume. Frankincense is used to perfume clothing and purify the air in Arab homes. Arabic doctors fumigated their clothing heavily with the pleasant smell of frankincense before visiting the sick.
In the 14th century, during the bubonic plague frankincense and pine were burned in the streets giving more immunity to the disease. Incense burning, fumigating and perfuming was an act of purifying, killing bacteria and cleansing the environment and surrounding atmosphere. It was noted that people who worked closely with frankincense remained free of the disease.
Frankincense is being investigated for its effects on the human body and as a possible treatment for many conditions, such as Chrohn’s disease, asthma, and even some cancers. Used all over the world as a natural treatment, frankincense has many therapeutic properties: diuretic, antiseptic, anti-tumoral, disinfectant, anti-inflammatory, sedative, expectorant, tonic, and uterine substances. Here are 8 science-backed benefits of frankincense.
Applied topically, frankincense is cytophylactic and vulnerary helping to fade dark spots, pox marks, scars, acne and boils at a faster rate. This includes stretch and surgery marks. It is also an astringent, shrinking or constricting body tissues and tightening the skin. It is wonderful to use to shave with to prevent razor bumps and feel skin you love. One of best ways to shrink the pore size of aging skin is to keep the pores clean and use frankincense to rid the body of dead skin; stimulating new skin cells, and reduces skin redness and irritation.
Frankincense is a calming fragrance that gives a focused positive lift naturally. Pharmacologists, in one study conducted at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, showed evidence that frankincense drops levels of anxiety and depression. The powerful aroma of frankincense dispels negative feelings promoting satisfaction, peace and wellness. It also promotes brain function and memory. The best way to put it is on pulse points, like the neck, the wrist, the back of your spine, the bottom of your feet, etc.
For healthy strong fingernails, rub frankincense oil on the cuticles and fingernails. It will revive the feel and look of your fingernails.
Frankincense regulates estrogen hormone production. Dr. Jane Buckle of the University of Minnesota reported in the Clinical Aromatherapy in Nursing that their study shows frankincense reduces the chance of a cyst forming in the uterus, post-menopausal tumors, and uterine cancer. It keeps a woman’s menstrual cycles regular and regulates gynecologic stresses and conditions.
Frankincense is antimicrobial helping to protect against pathogens. The oils, fumes and smoke also have antiseptic and disinfectant qualities, to filter out germs. It can be applied to wounds to guard against tetanus or becoming septic, with no side effects. It can also give internal wounds protection form developing infections.
The oil of frankincense has antiseptic attributes that can be useful in promoting oral health as a preventative against cavities, premature loss of teeth, toothaches, sores, infections and gingivitis. It strengthens the gums.
Frankincense is a carminative; it prevents excessive gas buildup from the digestive system, reduces indigestion, abnormal excessive sweating, and other associated conditions. It strengthens the intestines and abdominal muscles and stimulates urination.
Frankincense is an emmenagogue; which increases menstrual flow. It can delay the advent of menopause and help with other menses symptoms such as pain, nausea, headache and tiredness.
As an anti-inflammatory, frankincense naturally eliminates phlegm from the lungs, opens up breathing passageways and relieves coughing.
Frankincense improves circulation and symptoms of joint pain. It is wonderful for arthritis relief, asthma, and digestive disorders. You can rub the oil into your muscles and joints with carrier oil or diffuse it into the air.
Precautions & Warnings
Frankincense had no know adverse side effects but it is known to have blood-thinning effects. If you have issues with blood clotting speak with your doctor first. It can have a negative reaction with certain anticoagulant medications. As with all substances, if you are pregnant or breast-feeding, there is not enough research on the use of frankincense so consult your physician. Avoid contact to sensitive areas of the body such as the eyes and inner ears. In some rare cases, some people have experienced minor skin rashes, nausea and stomach pain with frankincense oil.
Concluding Thoughts on Frankincense
Frankincense has been shown to “turn off” the substances that cause excessive inflammation. If you have aching, swollen joints, stifling your mobility, are weak from an overworked heart, trouble breathing, allergies or sinus issues, erratic blood sugar levels, these are just a few of the many symptoms that might be improved with frankincense.