Mystical, Magical Frankincense
Even non-believers probably know the part of the Christmas story where three wise men arrive bearing precious gifts, one of which is frankincense. But what exactly is frankincense, and what can it do for our health? Let’s take a look.
People have been collecting the gum resin of the evergreen frankincense tree for millenia. According to the American Botanical Council, a 3,000-year-old ball of frankincense was even found in the tomb of King Tutankhamun! Women of ancient Egypt (including Cleopatra) were said to have used charred frankincense to make a black powder called kohl for painting their eyelids. Cosmetic applications aside, the American Botanical Council reports that frankincense was mainly valued for its role in religious rituals—it was burned as ceremonial incense by both Jews and Romans, and is still used by the Catholic Church today.
Cultures around the world have long relied on frankincense to treat a wide array of ailments. The traditional medicine of India, Ayurveda, considers frankincense a remedy for arthritis, respiratory illnesses, skin problems, and more. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), frankincense is known as Ru Xiang and is used to alleviate swelling and heal wounds. Frankincense essential oil is revered for its many aromatherapeutic properties, some of which include:
- Promoting relaxation
- Easing joint pain
- Healing blemishes/wounds
- Relieving headaches
- Improving skin tone
- Keeping gums healthy
- Reducing stretch marks
- Soothing cold symptoms
Many, many promising studies have been conducted on frankincense and its healing compounds. One of these, boswellic acid, has been shown to possess powerful anti-inflammatory properties that may help treat autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis. Its ability to fight inflammation means frankincense can be used to relieve joint pain and other aches as well. The effects of frankincense on the skin have also been examined, with
remarkable results. In one study, 15 female volunteers applied a cream containing 0.5 percent boswellic acids (BAs) to one side of their faces while using the same cream minus the BAs on the other side for 30 days. At the end of the study, the facial skin treated with BA cream showed significant improvements in tactile roughness and fine lines as well as increased elasticity—all without any adverse reactions to the cream. In addition to its anti-aging activities, frankincense may help reduce blemishes and balance oily skin.
The healing impact of frankincense goes beyond the physical. Animal studies indicate a component of frankincese called incensole acetate may help regulate emotions, relieve anxiety, and stabilize mood. It is also believed to be spiritually grounding.
Frankincense oil and boswellia extract have also been associated with cancer treatment, although more research is needed to determine its efficacy.
With all these marvelous attributes, is it any wonder frankincense is one of our favorite oils? As we explain here, Jennifer first discovered its incredible healing power while vacationing at a lake house in Minnesota. Plagued by intensely itchy horse fly bites, she followed the advice of her essential oil guidebook and dabbed the bites with frankincense oil. Within 20 minutes, the swelling, pain and itching were gone—and never came back. Since then, our motto has been: “When in doubt, use frankincense.” We feature frankincense in several of our rollerball blends, including Anxiety Away, Balance + Center, Breathe Easy, Immunobooster, Love Potion, and My Aching Head. Frankincense is a key ingredient in our Soul Soak milk bath, which may help with body aches and stress while deeply hydrating your skin. We also incorporate it into The Balm, an anti-inflammatory and skin-calming solution to life’s irritations like cuts, burns, scrapes, rashes, bites, cracked hands and feet, sunburn, and diaper rash. We chose the quality ingredients and healing elements in our products to promote a balanced mind, body and spirit, and we strongly believe frankincense fits this bill.
This holiday season, why not give a present whose healing and spiritual powers have been revered for thousands of years? There’s not a single person on your list who wouldn’t benefit from frankincense. Whether it’s an Anxiety Away rollerball for the harried coworker struggling with stress, a Soul Soak milk bath for the friend who’s always on her feet, or an Immunobooster for the cousin who’s always getting sick, there’s a frankincense-containing product that can help. Since you likely burn the candle at both ends this time of year, consider treating yourself to a little something frankincense-y, too. After all, what could be more precious than the gift of good health?