Ancient Romans called it olibanum. Its name means “high quality incense”. When you breathe Frankincense you are participating in a tradition that started at the beginning of our history. Its spicy, balsamic aroma has wafted through the temples of Ancient Egypt, Babylonia, Persia, Israel, Rome, and Greece. Frankincense calms and centers you. It gives you the space you need to be brave. This essence of antiquity contains the wisdom of the Universe. It guides our way through the dark, illuminating what we truly need to focus on. Frankincense will take you to the outer limits, but not against your will. Frankincense will never take you further than you are ready to go.
Frankincense is a resin found in the Boswellia tree. It is a member of the Burseraceae, or Torchwood family. This highly aromatic family, of both trees and shrubs, is known as the incense family. Myrrh is just another aromatic member of the Burseraceae Family. Boswellia serrata is also known as Indian Frankincense. Boswellia Carterii is another Frankincense tree, whose resin is also often harvested. Indian Frankincense has a large, expansive canopy
Native to Somalia, Yemen, Oman, and parts of India and Pakistan this medium sized tree can grow to be about 30- 50 feet tall. It has a very distinct gray-green bark that peels off in papery flakes. Opposite, green leaves fill out its expansive canopy. To harvest the resin, a cut is made on its papery bark. A milky white substance oozes from its wound. Once this resin hardens it turns into the yellow crystals we know as incense.
Frankincense trees like elevation. They can usually be found at altitudes around 4,000 feet. Despite the elevation they like, these trees like it hot. They thrive in daytime temps in the 90-100’s. They also love to be in full sun. If it gets enough sun, it really doesn’t need much else. They prefer it rather dry, so they definitely don’t need too much water. Their native areas usually get about 4-5 feet of rainfall per year. Frankincense can also thrive in shallow soils and minimal nutrients.
The English word frankincense derives from the Old French expression “franc encens”, or high quality incense. It has been used as incense, and has been traded for 5,000 years.
Frankincense is mentioned 22 times in the Bible.
Widely used in ancient Egypt, it was one of the ingredients used in the holy oil described in the Talmud.
In addition to being a main ingredient in Egyptian temple incense. Frankincense gum was charred to produce kohl, and black powder used by Egyptian women to paint their eyelids.
Indian Frankincense is collected twice a year (March and June)
Each tree can give about 2 pounds of gum resin each year.
Propagating Boswellia serrata from seed can be a little tricky, and the germination rate isn’t spectacular. Before you plant these seeds, they should be soaked in water first to separate the unviable seeds. Once planted the trees should germinate in a week or two. For ease of propagation and to ensure genetic purity most Frankincense trees are propagated via stem cuttings. Frankincense trees are working their way down the endangered list and is listed as near threatened due to overharvesting.
Frankincense Essential Oil Info
There are several species of Boswellia that produce true frankincense: Boswellia sacra (syn. B. bhaw-dajiana, syn. B. carteri), B. frereana, B. serrata (B. thurifera, Indian frankincense), and B. papyrifera. Resin from each is available in various grades, which depend on the time of harvesting. The resin is known as olibanum, derived from the Arabic al-luban or 'that which results from milking'. The properties of each of these oils overlaps a bit, but there are distinct characteristics that make them all a little different.
Properties of Frankincense Essential Oil:
Alterative, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antidepressant, antiseptic, aperient, aromatic, astringent, decongestant, demulcent, deodorant, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, immune stimulant, refrigerant, sedative, uterine tonic
Skin and Hair
Frankincense does wonders for your skin. It is both anti-inflammatory and astringent. This is a miracle worker for any dermatitis, irritation, itching, or swelling. Add in its antimicrobial properties and you get a powerful remedy for acne and pimples. Frankincense is also a champion for repair and healing. It is effective to treat wounds and scars. Frankincense is also a wonderful addition for aging or wrinkle products.
Frankincense soothes and eases the Musculoskeletal system as well. It can reduce inflammation from osteoarthritis. It will increase circulation, speeding the recovery from muscle strain and pain. This is a wonderful addition to Epsom salts baths aimed to alleviate joint and muscle pain.
Frankincense is a powerful demulcent and anti-inflammatory. It is also a diuretic. All these means if your digestive system suffers from irritation and inflammation it will love Frankincense. Inflammatory conditions like IBS, ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease respond well to Frankincense. It can also balance the digestive system, finding the happy medium between constipation and diarrhea.
The properties of Frankincense really shine when it comes to the respiratory system. Demulcent, anti-inflammatory, and expectorant, Frankincense is sure to clear your airways alleviating sinus congestion and bronchitis. It will also soothe the symptoms of asthma and laryngitis.
*There are new studies coming out that indicate Frankincense can target and kill abnormal cells. This could be a promising component in future treatments of cancer.*
Frankincense is calming and centering. This is one of the reasons it is so widely used in sacred spaces. It alleviates both physical and emotional discomforts. Anxiety, tension, stress, obsessive thoughts and fears all recede under the effects of Frankincense. Frankincense also eases depression, and is a valuable addition to treatment, even including postpartum depression. This is a highly transformative oil that can cut our busy work, bringing into focus what is important. It provides the ease needed to break free from over achievement.
The spiritual realm is where Frankincense really shines. This ancient medicine brings with it ancient wisdom and patience. Frankincense relaxes, promoting a meditative atmosphere. It also enhances concentration, enhancing spiritual experiences. People seeking both enlightenment and inspiration will find a true friend in Frankincense. This resin will push your limits of expansion, but not in an invasive way. Frankincense won’t push you further than what you are ready for. Frankincense is all about balance and renewal. This is a highly protective plant that repulses negativity.
Deodorize and purify the air by eliminating harmful bacteria.
Dilute before use; for external use only. Do not use during pregnancy. May cause skin irritation in some individuals. Contact with eyes should be avoided.
Balance, Inspiration, knowledge, and strength. These are the qualities that Frankincense has provided for us since the dawn of our ancient ancestors. This sacred plant has been a powerful ally for our minds, bodies, and especially our spirits. People across time and space have used this plant to enhance their spiritual experiences, finding both healing and growth in its fumes. Frankincense is a time proven ally for the spirit, but it is just as powerful a friend for our bodies. Frankincense is a must have in our plant apothecary. Just make sure to buy from ethically sourced supplies to prevent this powerful potion from becoming endangered or threatened.
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Frankincense is such a special medicine. We have a variety of blends that include this special oil. All of them are grounding, and centering. Each one is relaxing, yet focusing. All of these blends are powerful tools in your wellness arsenal.