Frankincense Essential Oil: Uses, Benefits, and Blends
The word “frankincense” originates from Old French: the word franc means free, or pure, in combination with encens, which translates to incense. Coming from the resin of the Boswellia tree, frankincense is one of the world’s oldest commodities. These trees are native to Northern Africa and the Middle East, but can also be found in areas such as Oman and Yemen. Also known as olibanum, frankincense is in heavy demand for its use in incenses, oils, and perfumes. One particularly large importer of frankincense essential oil is the Catholic Church. They use large quantities of incense in ceremonies and services. Due to increases in demand, over-exploitation, and the destruction of forests for agricultural use, it is important to ensure you are purchasing high-quality, sustainable frankincense essential oil.
Along with its enticing woodsy aroma, frankincense has many potential benefits. In this article, we will be discussing these, as well as how to incorporate frankincense essential oil into home-made products, cosmetics, and soaps.
Where Does Frankincense Essential Oil Come From?
As mentioned above, frankincense essential oil is extracted from the Boswellia tree. To get frankincense from the trees a tapper will cut into the trunk, extracting the sap. This sap then hardens into what we call resin. A tree must grow for about 8-10 years before it is large enough to tap, which means there can be quite a wait between the time planting occurs and when it is ready to harvest. After harvesting the sap, the resin then goes through a process of steam distillation, which creates the essential oil. VINEVIDA uses all natural sources to ensure the resulting product is of the highest-quality possible. If frankincense oil isn’t extracted properly it can result in an inferior product with duller color and a less significant aroma. Currently, Somalia and Ethiopia are the two largest producers and exporters of frankincense in the world.
What is Frankincense Essential Oil Used For?
Historically, frankincense is probably most famous for its starring role in the tale of the three wise men. In this Christian Bible story depicting the birth of Jesus, the three men arrive bearing gifts - one of which is frankincense. Archaeological history shows frankincense was often used in holy rituals, including by the Greeks and Romans who were huge importers. Historical evidence in the form of the writings of Pliny the Elder—a Roman historian and botanist—show us the many ancient uses of the oil. Among other things, Frankincense was a common ingredient in many traditional medical treatments. Indications show frankincense essential oil was used as an insect repellent, in salves, and even to treat toothaches and leprosy. Some people were even known to chew the edible resin, using it as a sort of gum. (Note that this was only pure resin, and it is never advisable to ingest any essential oil.)
Today, frankincense essential oil is used for many different things. In terms of holistic healing, this essential oil is often a key component in aromatherapy, Chinese medicine and Ayurveda, which is another type of alternative medicine. Cosmetically it is commonly believed that frankincense essential oil benefits the skin, which is why it is often used as an additive in many popular products. As we get further on we will discuss these uses in more detail, including how they can prove beneficial for you.
What is Frankincense Essential Oil Good For?
As expected of a product that has been around for thousands of years, the benefits of frankincense essential oil are numerous. While a lot of the claims about this oil’s benefits come from anecdotal research, there is also a great deal of science-backed research available for your consideration. Studies indicate frankincense essential oil may be able to reduce inflammation, improve skin tone, reduce scarring, and even fight cancer. We are now going to delve a little deeper into the potential benefits of both the medical and cosmetic uses of frankincense.
Frankincense Essential Oil Benefits
In Chinese Medicine, frankincense and myrrh are commonly seen in use together. They are both from the same family of trees, though each comes from a different species. Both of these oils contain terpenoids, along with many other organic compounds. Studies show some of the properties frankincense contains may have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects. While each of these substances shows promise on its own when you combine frankincense and myrrh together something amazing happens. The combination produces acetyl elemolic acid, which is a significant anti-inflammatory agent.
Using frankincense essential oil in aromatherapy may also help reduce symptoms of inflammation, including those brought on by rheumatoid arthritis. Studies show that a certain component of boswellic acid can act as an inhibiting agent on certain enzymes which trigger inflammation. Read on for more detail on what aromatherapy is, and how best to achieve results!
In addition to anti-inflammatory properties, studies also show both frankincense and myrrh showing promising results in terms of cancer treatment. Extracts of these showed particular promise when looking at breast cancer. The findings show exposure to this combination of frankincense and myrrh may cause cancer cell death. Preliminary results indicate frankincense essential oil may be able to differentiate between cancer cells and normal, healthy cells. Though more evidence is necessary frankincense and myrrh appear to be top contenders for further research in terms of natural cancer treatments.
Frankincense Oil Benefits for Skin
Initial research shows promise when looking at frankincense essential oil in regards to tissue remodelling. This may be of particular interest to those who suffer from acne or scarring, particularly on the face. This potential ability to repair and regenerate tissues means it may also prove beneficial in reducing the signs and symptoms of aging. When added to products it may help improve overall skin tone, reducing redness, age spots, scarring, and other negative effects from sun. Though we will discuss this further on, it is important to note that you should never apply the oil directly to the skin.
Some anecdotal research shows frankincense essential oil may also be capable of working as an astringent. Astringents can help cut down on oils in the skin, as well as tightening pores, thereby reducing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
Though much more research is necessary, an initial study done on sleep-deprived rats found promising results. Frankincense essential oil shows promise as a natural sleep aid, which means it may prove beneficial in terms of stress management. Aromatherapy is also a common remedy for reducing stress and anxiety. To use frankincense in aromatherapy continue on to the next section, where we discuss how to best garner results.
Frankincense Essential Oil: Methods of Use
As we now know, frankincense essential oil contains many components which show promise for both medical and cosmetic uses. However, if we wish to benefit from these components we need to know the best—and most effective—way to use them.
Most people have heard of aromatherapy, but not everyone knows what it is. Aromatherapy is a holistic method of healing which aims towards improving mental and physiological well-being. While the practice originates from Middle Eastern and Asian countries, it is becoming more and more popular in the Western world. This is because of the sheer number of people moving towards more natural approaches to health.
You can achieve aromatherapy either topically or—more commonly—through inhalation.
Frankincense essential oil uses in aromatherapy can include adding it to baths or diffusers, or applying it topically. The first two options are simply straightforward; simply add a few drops of frankincense essential oil to the water in your bath or diffuser. This is a good way to induce the sedative effect this essential oil may offer, as you can add it to a diffuser and leave it on while you sleep.
When using topically, never apply frankincense essential oil directly to the skin. Always dilute it with a common carrier oil first, such as jojoba or coconut oil. If adding oil to products, start by testing a small area to ensure the skin does not react negatively. For regular use, add a few drops to lotions, soaps, or massage oils and rub into the skin. Examples of products you can use in conjunction with aromatherapy include lotions, creams, bath salts, face masks, hair masks, and many more.
Frankincense essential oil can also be used in DIY candle making. Whether you wish to use it on its own or create a blend, the options are endless. Create your own non-toxic candles at home to permeate the air with the woodsy scent of frankincense, and enjoy all the benefits it has to offer.
Create your own room spray using frankincense essential oil. Add a few drops of essential oil to a spray bottle full of warm water. Shake it up, then mist around the room as required. You can also mist onto linens, pillows, and furniture to help keep fresh and fragrant. Have fun with it by coming up with your own essential oil blends and combinations. Create a room spray that will suit any mood or occasion!
Frankincense Essential Oil for Soapmaking
Frankincense essential oil is a common additive in many perfumes, soaps, and other cosmetic products. Its fragrance is sweet and bright, giving off notes of pine, citrus, and spice. This woodsy scent is what makes it such a good option for scenting soaps and products.
Adding frankincense essential oil to liquid soap is your easiest option. Essential oils can react negatively to added chemicals, so it is important to use a base liquid soap which is devoid of these. Look for pure products that contain no added fragrances. Once you have your base soap, simply add 1g of essential oil for every 100g of liquid soap. Add in more after if you wish for a stronger scent, but it is better to start with less. You can always add more, but you can’t take it back out!
For more information on soapmaking, check out our article on how to make your own soap at home!
Frankincense Essential Oil Blends
When it comes to health purposes, one of the best essential oils to blend frankincense is with myrrh. Other great options include citrus-scented oils, which will complement frankincense’s earthy aroma. Common citrus essential oils include sweet orange, lemon, and grapefruit. For a more musky blend, try combining frankincense essential oil with rosemary, eucalyptus, or bergamot.
For over five thousand years, frankincense essential oil has shown itself to be a popular choice in terms of both medicinal use and cosmetics. Here are VINEVIDA we take care to offer high-quality, 100% pure and natural products. Whether you prefer aromatherapy or simply adding essential oils to existing products, the options for frankincense essential oil are endless. As always take care when using essential oils, keeping them away from pets and small children. You should never ingest an oil, or apply directly to skin without dilution. Remember that the use of aromatherapy and other holistic and alternative medicines should always include consult with a medical health professional.
Disclaimer: These statements (and all statements herein) have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Essential Oils sold by VINEVIDA are to be used for cosmetic purposes only. They are not intended to diagnose, treat, mitigate, cure, or prevent a disease or ailment. Research citations are added merely to support the claims to a certain extent. VINEVIDA makes no representation to the comprehensiveness or accuracy of the published information. Read our DISCLAIMER for further details.
Caution: Beware of excessive use as it may lead to nausea and headaches. For topical use, always dilute the oil with a carrier oil. We do not suggest the internal use of any essential oils. Keep it out of children’s reach. It is not recommended for a pregnant woman without a proper prescription by a specialist.