Frankincense is among the most popular and widely known resins in the world. It has a long history and it has been used since ancient times. It is also considered a communication link between humans and heavenly powers. But what exactly makes it so popular and how can you enjoy its benefits too? Most importantly, what are the uses of Frankincense essential oil?
You will find out the answers to these questions, and a ton of other info on this sacred essence in a few moments. The first paragraphs of this article are dedicated to finding out interesting facts about the resin of frankincense.
Make sure you choose the right type of oil by knowing which resin you need for therapeutic purposes. There are more types of frankincense and I believe it’s necessary to know them.
After this entire introduction, you will read about the most important uses of this oil. They will give you an idea or two on how else you could use one of your favorite essential oils besides how you do it now. There are so many things Frankincense oil is good at! You can almost guess why it was and still is so popular. Recent studies show that it truly has wonderful and helpful properties.
Before I conclude the article, I will also give you a few recipes to draw your inspiration from.
Did you know?
- Frankincense can be harvested all year round. The resin needs 12 hours in the steam distillation process to release all its beneficial molecules.
True Frankincense Oil and Its Constituents, plus Other Types to Know About
Botanical name: Boswellia carterii
Texture: thin oil.
Color: silvery, clear with a green tinge for good quality oils. Brown-yellow for lower quality oils
Aroma: oriental, woody with spicy notes. It is a medium base note.
Boswellia carterii is the tree that gives the resin from which we extract Frankincense oil. The tree is intentionally wounded to release a white sap. The sap’s role is to protect the tree from infections.
This sap is left for 10 days to dry before harvesting it. Once dried, it is cut in very small pieces. These pieces are then steam-distilled for the extraction of their essence. Thus we get Frankincense essential oil and Frankincense floral water (hydrolate).
It is said that the more wounded the tree, the better quality of resin it gives. In a way, this makes sense because the tree would have to produce even more concentrated sap. But there’s no real proof to this claim so this piece of info is just anecdotal.
100 kilos (220 lbs.) of frankincense resin yields 8 – 10 kilos (17 – 22 lbs.) of essential oil.
The incense is also called olibanum. Its name comes from the Latin “incensum” or “al-libaan” in Arabic.
There are many types of Boswellia trees that give pure essential oils. Their quality depends on the harvesting time and the soil in which they’ve grown. That’s why they also have different properties. Even though all Frankincense oil types contain the same constituents, these ones vary in percentages.
The Boswellia trees are native to Oman, Yemen, and Somalia. But they can also grow in India, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Sudan.
The uses of Frankincense essential oil are quite many since we have so many types to choose from. There is also a type called Boswellia sacra that is very similar to the carterii type. However, the type of oil that is the most popular is the carterii type.
But we also have:
- Boswellia serrata – This one is a close relative of the Boswellia carterii and sacra oil types. It comes from India and it’s considered a very high quality oil. It has a strong and rich aroma (citrus and pine notes).
- Boswellia frereana – This type of resin gives what it’s considered to be the “king” of Frankincense oil types. It has a more balsamic scent with stronger citrus and spicy notes. It is more expensive than the other types. It is so because its cost also supports the development of Somaliland.
- Boswellia rivae – This type of resin has a finer scent and it’s used mostly in the perfume industry. Its scent is more complex and elegant. Besides the scent, this resin variety also has therapeutic qualities. This oil variety reminds some people of Palo Santo.
- Boswellia neglecta – This resin is brown – black and it seeps naturally from the tree. It is different in color and extraction from the other types of frankincense. It has an earthier and almost moldy smell. It comes from Northern Kenya.
- Boswellia papyrifera – This resin is not as clear and light colored as frereana and carterii It is brownish and it has a subtle orange scent. It can be found in Ethiopia, Sudan and Kenya.
Note* Most sources and many aroma therapists say that both carterii and sacra resins yield the same type of essential oil. Some studies have shown they are very similar indeed, but they should be treated as two distinct species of Frankincense oil.
Frankincense essential oil contains:
- Over 60% Alpha and beta-thujene – These substances have antibacterial and antiseptic and analgesic properties. They can kill airborne germs and bacteria.
- Alpha and beta-pinene – They have stimulant and decongestant properties. They are also antiviral and have effects against tumors.
- Limonene – they have the same effect like alpha & beta-pinene.
- Camphene, Sabinene, Myrcene.
- Boswellic acids (traces).
About boswellic acids:
Boswellic acids have analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. They work well in anti-rheumatic treatments and they’re also good antioxidants. These acids are recommended in oral care, but they’re great in hair and skin care also.
But there’s a catch! Boswellic acids are found in the resin part. They have a large molecular weight and cannot be properly distilled/extracted. Boswellic acids can’t be separated like all the other molecules are during steam distillation.
These acids are too heavy to be broken down. Frankincense essential oils don’t contain actual boswellic acids. But they may contain high trace amounts of the acids.
Boswellic acids may be added manually into the oil. But then, after the insertion the oil would become an oleoresin. Oleoresins are thicker and they need melting before working with them. The good thing is that they can be mixed with certain essential oils. If you add a few drops of Frankincense oleoresin to your Frankincense essential oil you would get a very potent oil.
Before getting to the uses of Frankincense essential oil, let’s see what its few precautions are:
- Pregnant women should not use this oil during the first trimester.
- Don’t use it in high doses because it can affect the mental activity and behavior (psychotropic effect).
- Test it for allergies before the first use. Pour a drop on the soft inside of the elbow and leave it for a few hours.
- Don’t use on children under the age of 6 without medical consent.
- Always dilute the oil with carrier oils, salts, honey or milk. As a general rule, 1% dilution means 6 drops per Oz. carrier oil.
Did You Know?
- Frankincense was a multi-benefit product ever since ancient times. It was used as medicine, fumigant and disinfectant, but also as a bug repellent. At the same time it was used in cosmetics and dyes too.
17 General Uses of Frankincense Essential Oil
When you’re looking for pure frankincense, make sure you read its label first. It must contain:
- The botanical (Latin) name of the species.
- The country of origin.
- The distillation method. Steam distillation is for pure essential oils. Solvent or CO2 extraction methods are for oleoresins.
- The oil must come in a dark glass bottle. They are very sensitive to light.
- It mustn’t come diluted with another essential oil or carrier oil.
This essential oil can be used just like all the others. It can be inhaled, diffused, added to cosmetics or mixed with carriers for massage blends. It can also be added to the bath water, mixed with honey, milk or salts. Or you can also add a drop on your toothpaste to strengthen the gums.
Of course, it can be added to a teaspoon of carrier oil and swished in the mouth for a few good minutes. Be careful though, this oil pulling method must never be ingested because it’s full of toxins.
Now let’s see what the uses of Frankincense essential oil are:
- Air and surface purifier.
This oil possesses strong antibacterial and antifungal qualities. These things make the oil of Frankincense great for diffusion. It has been proven that strong antibacterial oils can kill airborne pathogens within 30 minutes.
Diffuse 4 – 5 drops of oil in a candle burner or diffuser. Don’t keep it burning for more than 10 -15 minutes. Also, make sure the room is well-ventilated to avoid nausea and headaches. The oil will purify the air and all the surfaces in the room.
- Change the way your home smells.
Frankincense has a characteristic scent and some may simply love it, while others don’t. It is often used in churches and temples, so this fact could also play a part in the way you perceive its aroma. But because there are so many different types of Frankincense oils, you could find one to really like.
Diffuse the variety you like to change the smell in your home. You can also pour a few drops on a cotton pad and throw it in the garbage bin. It will kill the germs there and improve the smell.
- Use as natural cleaner in the kitchen.
You can either mix it with Lemon essential oil or you can use it on its own. Add in a spray bottle 15 – 25 drops of Frankincense in 2 Oz. water. Shake well before use and spray your counter tops and cabinets with this mixture, then wipe it clean. It will disinfect and scent the area as well.
- Unwind and improve your anxiety.
This is probably one of the best uses of Frankincense essential oil. The oil has the power to bring peace and relaxation in a few seconds after inhalation. For this purpose you can inhale a drop of oil from cupped hands or from a diffuser. You can also inhale its beneficial molecules in a hot bath. Your skin will enjoy the Frankincense treatment too.
- Use the oil of Frankincense in meditation sessions.
You don’t necessarily need to be in a temple or church to feel that godly connection and atmosphere. You can burn some frankincense or diffuse a few essential oil drops for prayer or meditation. Some yoga practitioners say they can focus better on their meditation .They say they feel more connected to the nature around them.
- Repel insects.
Among the many uses of Frankincense essential oil there is also the ability to repel insects. Its scent is strong and its power can keep mosquitoes and flies away. The same goes for the incense that can be burnt on an outside patio during summer.
- Relieve inflammation and joint or muscle pain.
Frankincense, with its strong anti-inflammatory properties can help with painful, inflamed areas. It also has sedative and analgesic properties. You can rub a few drops of a massage blend on the affected areas and it will improve the circulation as well. This works well when you inhale the oil molecules also.
- Use as immune system booster.
The uses of Frankincense essential oil include the ability to kill viruses and bacteria inside the body. It also stimulates vital processes that can help the body perform at full capacity, and fight illnesses.
For this purpose the best way to enjoy the oil’s benefits is by diffusion. The molecules will enter the bloodstream faster and in a greater concentration.
- Use this sacred essence to guard your body from colds or flu.
The same ability to kill germs and to boost the immune system can help during the cold season. Inhale Frankincense oil as often as possible, and diffuse it around the house to prevent an epidemic.
- Improve the circulation in your hands and feet.
Those who have cold hands and feet all the time can use Frankincense. Make yourself a blend from 12 drops of essential oil into 1 Oz. carrier oil and rub your feet with it. Then rub your hands with it and give it a few minutes. For a more potent blend you could also try adding 1 – 2 drops of chili oil.
- Improve stomach problems.
Among the best uses of Frankincense essential oil we have the ability to help with stomach problems. Indigestion, slow digestion or constipation and gas, they can all be improved. Rub a few diluted drops of essential oil onto your stomach with clockwise movements and keep the area warm.
- Soothe and improve allergies.
Frankincense has decongestant qualities, and it’s a mild sedative and stimulant. It is good at opening up the nasal passages for a deeper breathing. It can calm down asthma attacks and kills most airborne pathogens.
- The oil of Frankincense helps with respiratory problems too.
Being a good decongestant, it can clear up nasal passages to breathe easier. Its stimulant qualities will speed up the dissolving of the phlegm in the lungs and the respiratory tract.
You can add a drop of oil in steaming water and inhale deeply for a few minutes. Make sure you cover your head with a towel to keep all the steam inside. Or you can rub some diluted oil on your chest for the same purpose.
- Restless leg syndrome (RLS) aid.
Among so many uses of Frankincense essential oil, we can count on it to help this time too. The RLS can be quite overwhelming. Symptoms may look like throbbing and other unpleasant sensations in your legs.
You may also feel the urge to move them right away. When you feel these sensations you can rub your soles with 2 drops of Frankincense oil in a teaspoon of carrier oil.
- Improve PMS symptoms.
This claim still needs more research to find out exactly how the oil balances the hormone levels. However, it is considered that among the uses of frankincense essential oil there is also the ability to balance hormone levels.
This fact would result in reducing menstrual cramps, headaches and mood swings. It is also considered that the oil can regulate the estrogen production. Rub your stomach area with a blend or inhale 3 – 4 times a day.
- Oral hygiene.
Frankincense oil has astringent qualities. They may help strengthen the gums and keep them healthy. This oil is great to use in oil pulling or to add it to your toothpaste. It can kill germs and fungi in the mouth and protect against plaque and tartar.
- Strengthen finger nails.
Protect your nails against fungi and bacteria while doing your manicure. Frankincense oil is nourishing to the skin too. Make yourself a blend and rub your cuticles and nails weekly or daily. The frequency of applications depends mostly on the severity of the problem.
Its astringent qualities make it great for skin care too. Use frankincense to protect against premature aging, and acne. It can also be used to improve scars and other signs or skin discoloration.
Did You Know?
- It’s hard for the Boswellia tree to establish itself as a mature tree because it can easily be grazed. But once it reaches maturity, the tree can live at least a hundred years. Boswellia trees bloom from October to February. That gives us a constant source of Frankincense oil.
Aromatherapy Blends with Frankincense Oil
These blend recipes are meant to help you get started with your experiments and testing of this oil. You can adjust the ingredients according to your preferences and desired results.
Release tension, stress and hyperactivity blend
- Frankincense essential oil: 4 drops
- Lavender essential oil: 4 drops
- Rose essential oil: 4 drops
- Macadamia oil: 1 Oz. (30 ml)
Blend all the oils together and keep them in a small roll on bottle. Shake well before use and apply on your forearms, pulse points and even chest 3 or 4 times a day. It will help you calm down, unwind and relax.
Relieve neck pain blend
- Frankincense essential oil: 6 drops
- Elemi essential oil: 6 drops
- Peppermint essential oil: 6 drops
- Sweet Almond oil: 2 Oz. (60 ml)
Blend the ingredients and shake well before each use. Apply as many times as necessary until the symptoms fade away. You can continue with fewer applications for a few days after, to make sure they’re gone.
In conclusion, the oil of Frankincense really deserves its fame and popularity. It is so well-versed and it adapts to almost all the needs! It makes for a great base note in homemade perfumes. This fact can help you create your own oriental scent, along with other reputed oils.
Make sure you don’t use it undiluted and in high doses to prevent any undesired effects. Otherwise, feel free to try out all the frankincense varieties you find, to see which one you like best.
I’m sure you’ll find at least one among the many uses of frankincense essential oil to help you with specific issues. Or maybe you already have? If so, which type of Frankincense would you rather go for? Do you even like Frankincense oil? I’m a very curious being so I’ll be enjoying your comments if you want to share.