Frankincense - worth its weight in gold
The title of this blog might seem like an exaggeration, but in the ancient world, essential oils such Frankincense (and Myrrh) were actually more valuable than gold and precious metals. It was the gift you gave other kings and queens and hence why the 3 wise men brought this as a gift to the baby Jesus. The Frankincense tree (and there are several species – more on that in a moment) only grows in certain parts of world: eastern Africa,
the southern arabian peninsula and parts of India. It’s not a plant that lends itself to mass cultivation and obtaining the resin (from which the essential oil is made) is still performed manually; with resin only being obtainable from the tree at certain intervals during the year. Hence supply of the precious resin is quite limited.
But it’s not only scarcity that made this plant and its oil so valuable. The ancient peoples were a lot more savvy than modern science tends to give them credit for because the Frankincense resin and oil has remarkable healing properties; something which scientific studies are only now beginning to confirm. More than that the ancient people were also well aware that Frankincense had properties which enhanced spiritual awareness and meditation. Many of you will no doubt remember incense (which comes from a variety of frankincense) being burnt in a church or temple. This is probably the main use for Frankincense today; that and as a base for perfumes, although that is diminishing as synthetics grow in use. It’s use for medicinal purposes world-wide is very small,
though that could now increase.
Types of Frankincense
There are several species of Frankincense, but the ones which have the most therapeutic value are Boswellia Carterii and Boswellia Sacra. Carterii is found in east Africa, while Sacra is only found in Yemen and Oman. Another variety, Frereana is highly sought after for its fragrance, but has little therapeutic benefit. Frereana is found in Somalia. Sacra or Sacred Frankincense has the highest amount of boswellic acid, the constituent that accounts for much of the oil’s healing properties. It is now thought, that it was this variety that would have been brought to the Christ child. Much of what sells as Boswellia Sacra is in fact Boswellia Frereana or worst still paraffin or some synthetic.
Healing Properties of Frankincense
- Frankincense has been used as an anti-depressant. Frankincense contains molecules known as sesquiterpenes. This in essence means that Frankincense oil is able to penetrate the blood-brain barrier and reach the limbic system of the brain, the hypothalamus, pineal and pituitary glands. The limbic part of the brain is the centre for memory and emotions.
- It has anti-tumoral properties. A number of studies have now been carried out indicating that frankincense can be effective against cancer cells. In Oman, where the local people drink water infused with or chew the frankincense resin, there is very little incidence of cancer in the hospitals. There is also very little incidence of periodontal disease, so this is another promising area for research.
- Anti-inflammatory and immune stimulating properties.
- DNA repair
- Promotes meditation and spiritual awareness.
Try diffusing Frankincense in a room before you meditate or do your yoga practice or even just rub a few drops in your hand, rub 3 times clockwise and inhale.
You can also try applying a few drops to your chakra points.
If you wish to try using it internally you might wish to dilute 1 drop of Frankincense per 4 parts of olive oil and use a vegetable capsule. Take before a meal or before bed.
There are volumes that can be written on the subject of Frankincense, so for that reason I’ve provided links to further reading, some videos and research on the topic.
Disclaimer: Please remember that anything discussed here does not constitute medical advice and cannot substitute for appropriate medical care. Where essential oils are mentioned, it’s recommended you use only pure, unadulterated therapeutic grade essential oils and follow the safety directions of the manufacturer.
Boswellia sacra essential oil induces tumor cell-specific apoptosis and suppresses tumor aggressiveness in cultured human breast cancer cells. Suhail MM, Wu W, Cao A, Mondalek FG, Fung KM, Shih PT, Fang YT, Woolley C, Young G, Lin HK. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011 Dec 15;11(1):129.
The One Gift, By D Gary Young. This is a great novel, about what the Frankincense trade would have been like 2000 years ago. Definitely worth a read.
Frankincense: Harvesting (video) To this day frankincense is harvested using the same technique developed centuries ago. Learn the time-honored technique
in this informative video.
Frankincense: Trees (video) Of the forty-three species of frankincense, Young Living distills resin from only two—Boswellia carterii and Boswellia sacra. Watch to find out why.
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