There are 4 basic types of Frankincense, Boswellia carterii and Boswellia frereana, which come from Somalia, Boswellia serrata, from India, and Boswellia sacra, from Oman. The Frankincense tree (Boswellia carterii), is a small deciduous tree in the Burseraceae family. The tree typically grows to be anywhere from six to thirty feet tall. It can have one or multiple trunks which are covered in a papery bark that can be easily removed. The leaves of the Frankincense tree are compound with an odd number of leaflets growing opposite of each other along its branches. When new leaves begin to form, they are covered in a fine down. Frankincense trees grow tiny yellowish-white flowers that are gathered in clusters. Each flower consists of five petals surrounding ten stamens and a cup with five teeth. The fruit produced by the tree is small and capsule-like. Frankincense (Boswellia carterii), is derived from the resin of the tree, milky white sap that is secreted. The trees begin producing this resin when they are around eight to ten years old.
The name "Frankincense" comes from the French term “franc encens,” which means “pure incense". The country of Oman is the earliest known source of Frankincense (traditionally Boswellia sacra), having exported the resin across India, China, and the Mediterranean for thousands of years. Frankincense and natron were used by Egyptians to cleanse body cavities during the mummification process. Herodotus, a Greek historian, mentions Frankincense in his work “The History”. He writes that the resin is dangerous to harvest because of winged snakes that guard the trees, and recommends burning storax as the smoke would drive the snakes away. Frankincense is used throughout the Abrahamic religions to cleanse negative or evil energy from houses and other buildings. It is also used for blessings and during exorcisms. Frankincense is mentioned as a prominent offering in ancient Hebrew sacrificial legislation. Frankincense is also mentioned in the New Testament of the Christian bible as one of the three gifts, along with gold and myrrh, that are presented to the baby Jesus after his birth. In the Book of Exodus, Frankincense, blended with other spices, is said to be ground and burnt in the sacred altar before the Ark of the Covenant as a holy offering. Frankish Crusaders brought Frankincense to western Europe after journeys to the Eastern Roman Empire where it was commonly used in church services. During Medieval times, Frankincense was often burned in religious spaces and during rituals. Frankincense, referred to as “dhoop”, is used to help heal wounds, relieve arthritis pain, and balance hormones in Ayurvedic medicine. In traditional Chinese medicine, Frankincense, along with myrrh, are used topically and orally for their antibacterial properties as well as to relieve pain, and promote blood circulation.
Frankincense Essential Oil is extracted from the resin that is excreted from the trees. To harvest Frankincense resin, farmers make incisions in the bark of the tree until small tears of the fluid begin to form. To achieve the highest quality resin without causing any damage to the tree, each tree is usually sliced around three times. The droplets of resin are then allowed to dry and harden on the tree for three to ten days. Then the resin droplets are scraped off of the tree and left to continue drying until they harden completely. When dry, the resin droplets look like small, rough, translucent stones. The quality of the resin is determined by the size of the hardened droplets and their color, with larger size and lighter color being optimal. Most Frankincense resin that can be readily found ranges in color from golden to amber but very expensive and high-quality resin can be clear to white in color. After harvesting and drying, frankincense resin is transported to the distillery and crushed into a powder before distillation. Frankincense essential oil is extracted through hydrodistillation. The resulting essential oil is thin and clear to pale yellow in color, with an exotic sweet and earthy aroma.
Benefits and Uses
When used in aromatherapy, Frankincense Essential Oil has expectorant properties that can work to encourage easier breathing by relieving congestion and clearing nasal passageways. It helps to stimulate the immune system as well as strengthen the respiratory system. Frankincense Essential Oil is known to enhance the mood and combat stress and anxiety. It also has sedative properties that can help the body and mind relax before bed and improve sleep quality. It can help to give the brain a boost by improving concentration and memory retention. Frankincense Essential Oil is commonly used in different spiritual practices where it is believed to strengthen one's intuition and spiritual connections. It can also be used to help focus intention and thoughts during yoga or meditation. Used topically, Frankincense Essential Oil can help to combat signs of aging by reducing the appearance of wrinkles and skin discoloration and improving skin elasticity. It can help stimulate the growth of new skin cells, helping wounds heal faster. When applied to the scalp, this essential oil can help to soothe dryness and strengthen the hair. Frankincense Essential Oil has anti-inflammatory properties that allow it to soothe inflamed and irritated skin as well as reduce redness and swelling. It works to disinfect the skin and tighten the pores for a cleansed and smooth complexion. Frankincense Essential Oil makes a helpful addition to household cleaners. It works to eliminate harmful bacteria on the surface and in the air while also deodorizing areas in the home.
Here are some recipes using Frankincense Essential Oil that we love...
Focused Intentions Diffuser Blend
- 4 Drops of Frankincense Essential Oil
- 3 Drops of Bergamot Essential Oil
- 2 Drops of Patchouli Essential Oil
Add water to your diffuser up to the fill line. Add drops of the essential oil blend. This diffuser blend recipe is formulated for a 200ml ultrasonic diffuser. Adjust the amount according to the size and directions of your diffuser.
Decompress and Destress Bath Salts
- 1 cup of Epsom Salt
- 1/4 cup of Dead Sea Salt
- 1/4 cup of Baking Soda
- 1 tablespoon of Fractionated Coconut Oil
- 20 drops of Frankincense Essential Oil
- 15 drops of Lavender Essential Oil
- 10 drops of Patchouli Essential Oil
- 5 drops of Chamomile Essential Oil
Pour the Epsom Salt into a clean mixing bowl. Add Dead Sea Salt and Baking Soda. Mix well. Add the essential oils and mix thoroughly. Store mixture in an airtight glass container. To use, scoop about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the salts into a warm bath. Let it completely dissolve before entering the water, to avoid slipping.
Age Defying Facial Mist
- 4oz Amber Glass Bottle with Spray Top
- 2oz Witch Hazel Extract
- 2oz Cooled Green Tea
- 10 drops of Jojoba Oil
- 20 drops of Frankincense Essential Oil
- 15 drops of Rosemary Essential Oil
- 10 drops of Clary Sage Essential Oil
Mix all ingredients in a 4oz glass amber bottle. Shake well to combine. Wash face before using spray. Use facial spray twice daily as a part of a daily beauty regimen or mist as needed throughout the day.
"Breath of Fresh Air" Room Spray
- 4oz Amber Glass Bottle with Spray Top
- 2oz Distilled Water
- 2oz White Vinegar
- 30 drops of Frankincense Essential Oil
- 20 drops of Cedarwood Essential Oil
- 20 drops of Eucalyptus Essential Oil
- 10 drops of Lemon Essential Oil
Add vinegar and essential oils to a 16oz glass bottle. Fill the rest of the bottle up with distilled water, leaving room at the top to mix. Shake well to combine thoroughly and again before each use. Spray all around your home to deodorize as needed.
Inflammation Soother Roll On
- 10ml Amber Glass Roll-On Bottle
- 10ml of Fractionated Coconut Oil
- 5 drops of Frankincense Essential Oil
- 3 drops of Lavender Essential Oil
- 2 drops of Tea Tree Essential Oil
Add the essential oils to the bottle. Fill the rest of the bottle to the top with fractionated coconut oil. Replace the rollerball and cap, gently shake, and roll across skin and massage areas of inflammation.