Frankincense (Carterii) essential Oil: Uses, Benefits, and Blends
Frankincense is white resin exuded from a tree when it bleeds because it has been injured. Under the fierce sun, the tree oozes resin (not sap, sap is a different thing) as a means of repairing itself. Almost like a human scab, it closes up the injury making it impenetrable to pathogens and insects.
The resin is left to harden on the tree, then is snapped off.
The resin is steam distilled to make frankincense essential oil.
The Frankincense tree (Boswellia carterii), is a small deciduous tree in the Burseraceae family. The frankincense family comprises 25 genus, that grow in dry mountainous regions of India, Northern Africa and Middle East.
The oleo gum-resins contain 30-60% resin, 5-10% essential oils, however ot all species resins creating very interesting essential oils.
The four main ones you will find on the market are:
- Boswellia carterii and Boswellia frereana from Somalia
- Boswellia sacra, from Oman
- Boswellia serrata, from India
Boswellia serrata Roxb is often referred to as ‘Indian olibanum’, ‘Indian frankincense’, ‘dhup’ and ‘salai’ or ‘salai guggul’ and grows in the middle and northern parts of Eastern India.
The resin is sometimes referred to as Shallaki.
Boswellia seratta is one of the most ancient and valued herbs of Ayurveda. It carries the Sanskrit name “Gajabhakshya”, “Amazing herb” and people say elephants seem to love it.
Frankincense seratta is India’s own frankincense and offering incense ritually has deep symbolism in Hinduism. On a practical level, it cleanses the air of the stench of animal sacrifice as well as airborne pathogens, and is used to propitiate deities since worshippers believe fragrant smokes pleases the gods. Since the burning consumes entirely to ashes yet leaves a fragrant aroma behind, it is imagined as the beauty of man's human sacrifice in daily life. The swift burning also symbolizes the transience of life. As the fragrant incense smoke vanishes, we are reminded of the impermanence of existence. Daily sacrificial ceremonies prevent influences from evil spirits and honor the dead.
In Hindu puja, we connect with the divine through the five senses. Incense serves the sense of smell, stimulating and elevating the spiritual experience. Frankincense creates an atmosphere conducive to meditation and prayer.
It cleanses the environment of negative energies and creates worshipful sacred space.
Frankincense, slows the breath and reminds us to remain present within it.
Frankincense Essential Oil Slows The Breath
There are many layers to the effects that frankincense has on the respiratory system.
It slows the breath, soothing and calming us.
It slows the breath to be supportive for asthma or coughs where you cannot catch your breath.
It slows the breath if you are panicked, shocked or hyperventilating.
It slows our breath and our minds to help us sleep.
It slows the breath to make us aware of it and centers us in prayer.
Frankincense is one of my favorite respiratory essential oils, especially for children. It is far better to help them breath when they have coughs or colds than eucalyptus and peppermint, which are difficult to use on little ones anyway.
Frankincense is subtle yet powerful.
It is so supportive for people with asthma. It opens the airways and slows the breath. This is the most effective bronchodilator essential oil and one of the most beautiful anti-inflammatory oils.
Psychologically, it is comforting and helps to calm the panic that asthma attacks can cause.
Safety: Not suitable for use in the first 16 weeks of pregnancy.
Frankincense Essential Oil Restores Elasticity
Frankincense Essential Oil And Mummification
You’ll likely hear many tales of how frankincense and myrrh embalmed the mummies of ancient Egypt.
This is true except for the part of it being essential oils. We have no evidence of distillation before the twelfth century. These “frankincense and myrrh oils” were made from resins soaked into warm vegetable or animal fats.
The frankincense in particular protected the skin fibers from falling apart after decomposition.
While on one hand we should be clear that Egyptian mummies were indeed protected and purified with fragrant oils, this is not the reason they have lasted. They have been preserved because of the aridity of the air.
That said, we know that while much of the frankincense in Egypt came from Arabia and the land which they referred to as “Punt” (thought to be Somaliland or Ethiopia) there were also extremely good trade links from India.
You may enjoy a story tale video done by Elizabeth Ashley about The Spirit of Frankincense and The Queen of Sheba, who controlled the frankincense trade of antiquity. .There is huge amounts of information in it and at times is pretty amusing.
Frankincense Essential Oil for Skin Preservation
As we have stated, the magic of mummification is most assuredly down to the desert conditions of the Sahara but, that should not detract from how brilliant a recommendation frankincense essential oil is for preserving tissues.
Frankincense essential oil is superb for very dry skin and skin that is starting to sag. That might be around the eyes as crows feet, wrinkles generally, a post natal saggy tummy or stretch marks. All of these respond brilliantly to frankincense.
It is better suited to mature skins rather than young dry skins, which might respond better to rose rather than frankincense essential oil.
Tendons and Connective Tissues
Aromatherapists tend to use frankincense essential oils for massage when connective tissues have become over extended. Consider pulling a hamstring or over extending the Achilles tendon…
Both extremely painful, which frankincense essential oil certainly addresses, but also it gradually restores elasticity to them. Frankincense essential oil helps restore flexibility and suppleness to joints.
Anti Inflammatory Actions of Frankincense Essential Oil
Frankincense essential oil has powerful anti-inflammatory actions, which are mediated by reducing the body’s immune response. (Aldahlawi, 2020) As such then, this is helpful for joint pains etc, but may also be helpful for people struggling with conditions related to autoimmunity.
Frankincense Essential Oil Restores Sleep Deprivation
Frankincense essential oil is a really important tool for treating stress, especially long term stress. It relaxes, soothes and focuses the mind into quieter ways.
Perhaps most saliently, it reverses harm done to the brain by lack of sleep.
A rodent study showed that when sleep deprived creatures were exposed to vapors from frankincense, it not only helped them to go to sleep quicker and stay asleep longer, it also reversed the effects of their sleep debt in the preceding days. (Okano, 2019)
Frankincense for Fatigue
A beautiful case history was published in the journal, Holistic Nursing Practice, in 2018 about a lady who had cancer.
People who have cancer often experience dreadful fatigue, from the treatment, from the worry, from the pain. The case history followed one such lady whose therapy had been supported by complementary medicine. Daily topical treatments of frankincense essential oil had taken her from being “barely able to lift her head to being able to do some basic activities of daily living.”(Reis, 2018)
In 2022, a team at Franklin Health Centre comprised a blend of essential oils including frankincense essential oil as a support for women recovering from long covid.
The inhalation blend of thyme, orange, clove and frankincense essential oil was proven to hep restore energy levels for women who were five months post covid 19 recovery. (Hawkins 2022)
Frankincense Essential Oils for Blinking and Twitching Eyes
Essential blepharospasm (sometimes known as benign essential blepharospasm) refers to blinking or eye twitching, that you can't control. These would normally disappear of their own accord, but sometimes benign essential blepharospasm can develop severe and chronic (long-term) eyelid twitching.
An article in the American Journal of Ophthalmological Case Reports told of two patients who were treated topically with a blend of frankincense essential oil into coconut oil in a 1:1 dilution. They applied to both the top and bottom eyelids on both eyes.
“After starting frankincense, one patient stopped BT injections altogether and the other increased the interval between BT injections from 3.5 months to 8 months.” (Baker, 2023)
Frankincense Essential Oil for Children.
Frankincense is lovely for any kind of aches and pains or ear infections (Volpe, 2022)., but also for coughs and colds.
In particular it opens the airways, as described earlier too, that it slows the breath and is helpful for people with asthma (Jaber, 2002).
Ordinarily, we might read for oils like eucalyptus for stuffy noses, and indeed eucalyptus essential oil is a super decongestant. However eucalyptus essential oil is high in a constituent - 1,8 cineole, which slows respiration in a way that would be problematic for young children.
Frankincense essential oil is a wonderful decongestant, is soothing, calming and comforting and is a much better choice for children.
Blossoming Heart author Robbi Zeck relates how frankincense moves us away from feeling vulnerable and feeling protected. She says “Frankincense bring stability and insulation when the inner landscape of the heart is feeling vulnerable. When you feel yourself wide open, choose to stay connected to the light and know that the unseen helpers will protect you”.