With Christmas around the corner, it is a great time to talk about Frankincense, made famous by the event itself, since it is described as one of the precious gifts presented to Jesus at His birth by the wise men. And this resin and its essential oil remain precious to this day! Frankincense has been highly valued since ancient times for its medicinal, cosmetic, aromatic and spiritual applications. The resin comes from the Boswellia carterii tree and is typically sourced from Somalia, although there are other species of Boswellia that can be harvested from.
What is Frankincense?
The essential oil is distilled from the resin and it tends to smell sweeter, cleaner and fresher than the resin from which it is extracted. Many prefer the aroma of the essential oil to that of the resin, especially when it is being burned as incense. Frankincense smells fresh, woody, resinous and slightly spicy. The oil contains a significant percentage of α-pinene as well as other monoterpenes, leading to the fresh pine-like note; it also has limonene, leading to a citrusy note. However, no single chemical component has been found that directly leads to the ‘typical’ aroma of Frankincense. Its complex aromatic structure leads it to blend well with fir oils, citrus oils, spicy oils (as is well-known, since they are all familiar festive aromas!). Frankincense is also a great accompaniment to the intense floral essential oils such as jasmine and ylang ylang.
Frankincense is grounding, calming and relaxing without being sedating which makes it ideal for support during meditation. If you can use the holidays to find some rest or if you are experiencing burnout from the stress of the holiday season, seek help from frankincense. Since many find this time of year a period of reflection of both the year that has been and planning for the one to come, frankincense can be a wonderful choice to use during these introspections.
Is Frankincense good for healing?
As well as inner healing, frankincense essential oil is perfect for physical healing. The oil has excellent anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and pain-relieving properties as well as skin toning ability. It is a wonderful astringent, helping with aging skin, as well as preventing infection (antibacterial). I often catch my husband helping himself to my frankincense bottle after he has been working in the garden and has returned inside with sores on his hands. He was amazed to see his blisters rapidly disappear after a treatment with frankincense, and it is something that converted him to the use of essential oils, no longer regarding it as ‘woo woo’!
Even though frankincense is one of the more expensive essential oils, it is so valuable and versatile in its uses that I will recommend it for clients’ home collections of essential oils. If you see a cheap version of the oil, the chances are it is either a fragrance oil or adulterated – please seek out quality brands when purchasing frankincense.
Frankincense is called the ‘last resort’ by Aromatherapists, but not because it is left as a last resort – it can be the first oil to turn to for many treatments! However, if an Aromatherapist is stumped by a condition, frankincense is what may be chosen, simply because it is so effective for holistic health, supporting mind, body and soul. If all else fails, try Frankincense!