You’ve likely heard of Frankincense, and maybe you can even recognize its distinct scent, but just what is frankincense? More importantly, why has it been a significant part of both religious culture and eastern medicine for thousands of years?
What makes Frankincense special is its vast array of health benefits. It is an antiseptic, astringent, analgesic, expectorant, anti-depressant, anti-inflammatory that has been shown to improve the immune system, help wound healing, and relieve gastrointestinal discomfort. WOW!
Here’s a closer look at why Frankincense is so amazing:
Helps reduce stress, improve mood, & promote sleep.
Helps prevent illness by boosting immune system function.
Studies have determined that Frankincense has immune enhancing (3)(4) abilities and may help fight against many bacteria and viruses. Because of its antiseptic properties, it can be helpful in eliminating many germs in the home, too. Many people also choose to use Frankincense to naturally relieve oral health problems, as it’s been shown to prevent gingivitis, bad breath, cavities, toothaches and other infections from occurring. (5)
Reduces the appearance of stretch marks and scars and helps heal skin.
Frankincense can be beneficial in strengthening the skin and improving its tone, elasticity and defense against bacteria or blemishes. It can also help reduce the appearance of scars, acne, or stretch marks. (6)
Assists the digestive process.
Frankincense has been shown to reduce symptoms of colitis, Chrohn’s, IBS and leaky gut syndrome.(7) It improves the body’s production of digestive enzymes, relaxes muscles of the digestive tract, improves circulation, and helps to flush out excess water that can cause bloating. It has shown very helpful in reducing stomach pain, cramping, and relieving nausea.(8)
Helps decrease pain and inflammation.
Many studies have documented Frankincense’s ability to significantly reduce inflammation and pain. (9) (10)(11)(12) It has been shown to inhibit the production of key inflammatory molecules associated with many conditions, and can be useful in helping prevent the breakdown of cartilage, making it a superb natural option for management of pain related conditions that affect the muscles, joints or tendons.
Helps ease Chemotherapy side effects; may help fight cancer.
Because of its proven ability to relieve pain and improve digestion, Frankincense can be very helpful in easing the pain and nausea associated with chemotherapy and other treatments. Studies have also shown that it has been successful at fighting cells of specific types of cancer in lab animals. (13)(14)(15)(16)(17)
It’s clear that Frankincense is incredibly versatile, but what about side effects? To date, there haven’t been any reported serious side effects from using Frankincense. As an essential oil, Frankincense is extremely well tolerated, though it is known to have blood thinning effects so care should be taken when using it. Anyone with problems relating to blood clotting, or who currently takes anti-coagulant medications should speak to their doctor prior to using Frankincense. Though rare, frankincense oil can cause minor skin rashes and digestive problems in those with sensitivities.
Throughout history, Frankincense has predominately been burned as incense, ingested by chewing on the hardened sap, or converted into an essential oil. Today, the most common way to use Frankincense in western society is as an essential oil. A pure frankincense essential oil is safe to be used aromatically (by smelling/inhaling), topically, or ingested, depending on preference, though caution should be taken when choosing an oil. Only 100% pure oils should be consumed; essentials oils marked as ‘fragrance’ or ‘perfume’ should not be ingested.
- To relieve inflammation & pain
Combine a few drops of Frankincense oil with a carrier oil (coconut, jojoba, almond, etc.) and massage into the painful area to improve circulation & decrease symptoms of pain. Alternatively, add a drop or two of oil to hot water, soak a towel in it, then place on your body or over your face to inhale.
- To help ease cold or flu symptoms
As an anti-inflammatory, Frankincense oil can decrease nasal swelling and make breathing easier. It also acts as an expectorant and help provide relief from coughing. Use an oil diffuser or place a few drops on a cloth and inhale.
- As the ultimate in acne-reducing, anti-aging, wrinkle-fighting, skin remedy
Frankincense oil is an astringent, Frankincense oil can be very helpful in reducing the appearance of large pores and diminishing acne breakouts. It can also help to light and tighten the skin to naturally slow the signs of aging. It may even help with decreasing the appearance of scars, dark spots, and stretch marks. Mix 2 – 6 drops to an ounce of carrier oil and apply to the skin. Be careful not to apply to broken skin.
- Stress relief
The scent of Frankincense is a powerful stress-reliever and anxiety fighter; it immediately induces a feeling of peace, relaxation, and satisfaction. Some people even believe that it can increase your intuition and spiritual connection. Use in an oil diffuser, add a few drops to a hot bath, or apply diluted to the body to promote stress and anxiety relief.
- Natural hygiene
Frankincense oil is a great addition to your oral hygiene routine. Its antiseptic properties can help prevent tooth decay, bad breath, cavities, and oral infections. Make your own toothpaste with 100% pure Frankincense oil & baking soda, or add a drop or two to your oil-pulling mixture. Use only 100% pure oil internally; do not use oils marked as ‘perfume’ or ‘fragrance’.
- Relieve indigestion
Because it helps to speed up the digestion of food, Frankincense oil can help relieve gastrointestinal issues like gas, constipation, stomach aches, IBS, PMS or cramps. Add 1-2 drops of 100% pure oil to a glass of water and drink for relief.
- Natural household cleaner
As an antiseptic, Frankincense has commonly been burned to help disinfect an area and is used as a natural deodorizer. Use in an oil diffuser to help eliminate bacteria and viruses from your home or clean indoor spaces.
Do you have a favorite way to use Frankincense? We’d love to hear it!
What is Frankincense?, livescience.com, Douglas Main, Dec 24, 2012 http://www.livescience.com/25670-what-is-frankincense.html
Myrrh and Frankincense, itmonline.org, Subhuti Dharmananda, PhD., May 2003 http://www.itmonline.org/arts/myrrh.htm
A Wise Man’s Cure: Frankincense and Myrrh, History.com, Jennie Cohen, Jun 27, 2011 http://www.history.com/news/a-wise-mans-cure-frankincense-and-myrrh
Burning Incense is Psychoactive: New Class of Antidepressants Might be Right Under Our Noses, Science Daily, Various, May 2008 http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080520110415.htm
What are the Benefits of Frankincense & Myrrh?, LiveStrong.com, Juniper Russo, Jul 24, 2015, http://www.livestrong.com/article/136270-what-are-benefits-frankincense-myrrh/
Indian Frankincense, Arthritis.org, accessed Jan 31, 2016, http://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/treatments/natural/supplements-herbs/guide/indian-frankincense.php
Frankincense, Wikipedia, accessed Jan 29 – Feb 2, 2016 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankincense
Boswellia Serrata, A Potential Anti-Inflammatory Agent: An Overview, Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, M.Z. Siddiqui, May – Jun 2011, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3309643/
Effects of aroma hand massage on pain, state anxiety and depression in hospice patients with terminal cancer, Department of Nursing, Keimyung University, Chang SY, Aug 2008, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18753801
Frankincense Effective in Killing Ovarian Cancer Cells, Study, University Herald, Various, Dec 20, 2013, http://www.universityherald.com/articles/6350/20131220/frankincense-christmas-gift-ovarian-cancer-cells-leicester-university-gum.htm
Researchers discover cancer-killing properties of frankincense in ovarian cancer, News Medical, Various, Dec 20, 2013, http://www.news-medical.net/news/20131220/Researchers-discover-cancer-killing-properties-of-frankincense-in-ovarian-cancer.aspx
Incensole acetate reduces depressive-like behaviour and modulates hippocampal BDNF and CRF expression of submissive animals, Journal of Psychopharmacology, A Moussaieff et al, Dec 2012, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23015543
Frankincense oil derived from Boswellia carteri induces tumor cell specific cytotoxicity, BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, MB Frank et al, Mar 2009, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19296830
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