From Dr. Axe, republished with permission.
Essential oils have been used for thousands of years for their therapeutic and healing properties as part of the practice of aromatherapy. They’re sourced from leaves, stems or roots of plants that are known for their health properties. So then, what is frankincense essential oil?
Frankincense sometimes referred to as olibanum, is a common type of essential oil used in aromatherapy that can offer a variety of health benefits: helping relieve chronic stress and anxiety, reducing pain and inflammation, boosting immunity and even fighting cancer.
Frankincense oil is sourced from the resin of the Boswellia carterii or Boswellia sacara tree that’s commonly grown in Somalia. This tree is different from many others in that it can grow with very little soil in dry and desolate conditions.
The word frankincense comes from the term “franc encens,” which means quality incense in old French. Frankincense has been associated with many different religions over the years, especially the Christian religion, as it was one of the first gifts given to Jesus by the wise men.
What Is Frankincense Essential Oil Used For?
Frankincense oil is used by either inhaling the oil or absorbing it through the skin, usually mixed with a carrier oil, such as an unscented lotion or jojoba oil. It’s believed that the oil transmits messages to the limbic system of the brain, which is known to influence the nervous system. A little bit of oil goes a long way; it should not be ingested in large quantities as it can be toxic.
If you’re purchasing essential oils, avoid oils that say “fragrance oil” or “perfume oil” as these can be synthetic and don’t provide the desired health benefits. Instead, look for oils that say “pure essential oil” or “100% essential oil” for the highest quality essential oils.
Top 8 Frankincense Uses
1. Stress Relieving Bath-Soak
Frankincense oil will immediately induce the feeling of peace, relaxation, and satisfaction. Add a few drops of frankincense oil to a hot bath for stress relief. You can also add frankincense to an oil diffuser or vaporizer to fight anxiety and for experiencing relaxation in your home all the time. Some people believe that the fragrance of frankincense can increase your intuition and spiritual connection.
2. Natural Household Cleaner
Frankincense oil is an antiseptic, meaning it will help eliminate bacteria and viruses from your home and to clean indoor spaces. The plant has been commonly burned to help disinfect an area and is used as a natural deodorizer. Use it in an essential oil diffuser to help reduce indoor pollution and to deodorize and disinfect any room or surface in your home.
3. Natural Hygiene Product
Due to its antiseptic properties, frankincense oil is a great addition to any oral hygiene regimen. Look for natural oral care products that contain frankincense oil, especially if you enjoy the aroma. It can help prevent dental health issues like tooth decay, bad breath, cavities, or oral infections. You can also consider making your own toothpaste by mixing frankincense oil with baking soda.
4. Anti-Aging & Wrinkle Fighter
Frankincense essential oil is a powerful astringent, meaning it helps protect skin cells. It can be used to help reduce acne blemishes, the appearance of large pores, to prevent wrinkles, and it will even help lift and tighten skin to naturally slow signs of aging. The oil can be used anywhere where the skin becomes saggy such as the abdomen, jowls, or under the eyes. Mix 6 drops of oil to one ounce of unscented oil and apply it directly to the skin. Be sure always to do a small patch area though first to test for possible allergic reactions.
5. Relieves Symptoms of Indigestion
If you have any digestive distress such as gas, constipation, stomach aches, irritable bowel syndrome, PMS, or cramps, frankincense oil can help relieve gastrointestinal discomfort. It helps speed up the digestion of food, similar to digestive enzymes. Add 1-2 drops of oil to 8 ounces of water or a tablespoon of honey for GI relief. If you are going to ingest it orally, consult your GP/doctor and aromatherapist as essential oils can be contraindicated. If you are going to ingest it orally, make sure it is 100% pure oil, do not ingest fragrance or perfume oils.
6. Scar, Wound, Stretch Mark or Acne Remedy
Frankincense oil can help with wound healing and may decrease the appearance of scars. It may also contribute to reduce the appearance of dark spots caused by acne blemishes, stretch marks, eczema and help with healing of surgical wounds. Mix 2-3 drops of oil with an unscented base oil or lotion and apply directly to the skin. Be careful of applying it to broken skin, but it is fine for skin that is in the process of healing.
7. Natural Cold or Flu Medicine
Next time you have a respiratory infection from a cold or flu, use frankincense essential oil to help provide relief from coughing. It can help eliminate phlegm in the lungs. It also acts as an anti-inflammatory in the nasal passages, making breathing easier, even for those with allergies or asthma. Add a few drops to a cloth and inhale for the respiratory benefits or use an oil diffuser.
8. Helps Relieve Inflammation and Pain
To improve circulation and lower symptoms of joint pain or muscle pain related to conditions like arthritis, digestive disorders, and asthma, try massaging frankincense oil to the painful area or diffusing it in your home. You can add a drop of oil to steaming water and soak a towel in it, then place the towel on your body or over your face to inhale it to decrease muscle aches. Also, diffuse several drops in your home, or combine several drops with a carrier oil to massage into your muscles, joints, feet, or neck.
Frankincense Essential Oil Benefits
1. Helps Reduce Stress Reactions & Negative Emotions
When inhaled, it has been shown to reduce heart rate and high blood pressure. It has anti-anxiety and depression reducing abilities, but unlike prescription medications, it does not have negative side effects and does not cause unwanted drowsiness.
2. Helps Boost Immune System Function and Prevents Illness
Studies have demonstrated that frankincense has immune enhancing abilities which may help destroy dangerous bacteria, viruses, and even cancers. (1) It can be used to prevent germs from forming on the skin, mouth, or in your home too. This is the reason many people choose to use frankincense of naturally relieving oral health problems; the antiseptic qualities of this oil can help prevent gingivitis, bad breath, cavities, toothaches, mouth sores, and other infections from occurring. (2) (3)
3. May Help Fight Cancer, or Deal with Chemotherapy Side Effects
Frankincense oil has been shown to help fight cells of specific types of cancer. (4) A 2012 study even found that a chemical compound found in frankincense called AKBA is successful at killing cancer cells that have become resistant to chemotherapy.
4. Astringent, Kills Harmful Germs, and Bacteria
5. Heals Skin and Prevents Signs of Aging
6. Balances Hormone Levels
Frankincense oil reduces symptoms associated with menstruation and menopause by balancing hormone levels. It can help relieve pain, cramps, constipation, headaches, anxiety, nausea, fatigue, and mood swings. Frankincense oil also helps with regulating estrogen production and reduces the risk of tumor or cyst development in pre-menopausal women.
7. Eases Digestion
Frankincense helps the digestive system to detox properly and to produce bowel movements, reduces pain and cramping in the stomach, can relieve nausea, contributes to flush out excess water from the abdomen that can cause bloating, and even relieves PMS-related stomach pains.
(7) It does this by speeding up the secretion of digestive enzymes, increasing urination production, relaxing the muscles of the digestive tract, and also helps to improve circulation which is needed for proper digestive health. It has been shown to be beneficial in reducing symptoms of the leaky gut syndrome, chronic colitis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and IBS. (8)
8. Acts as a Sleep Aid
Frankincense essential oil is useful in lowering levels of anxiety or chronic stress that can keep you up at night. It has a calming, grounding scent that can naturally help you to fall asleep. It helps open breathing passages, allows your body to reach an ideal sleeping temperature, and can eliminate pain that keeps you up.
9. Helps Decrease Inflammation and Pain
Frankincense can inhibit the production of the main inflammatory molecules associated with conditions like arthritis, asthma, painful bowel disorders like IBS, and many more conditions. (9) It can be useful in helping to prevent the breakdown of the cartilage tissue and has been shown to significantly reduce levels of dangerous and painful inflammation, making it a natural treatment option for pain-related conditions that affect the muscles, joints, and tendons.
Frankincense Interactions/Side Effects
Frankincense essential oil is extremely well tolerated, especially compared to prescription medications. To date, there are no reported serious side effects of using Frankincense oil, as long as you do not ingest large quantities which can result in it becoming toxic.
Rarely frankincense oil can cause certain reactions for some people- including minor skin rashes and digestive problems like nausea or stomach pains. Frankincense is also known to have blood-thinning effects, so anyone who has problems related to blood clotting should not use Frankincense oil or speak with a doctor first. Otherwise, the oil may have the potential to react with certain anticoagulant medications negatively.
Frankincense Oil DIY Recipes
Frankincense Oil blends well with carrier oils like jojoba oil, coconut oil, or shea butter. It can be combined with other essential oils depending on the benefits you’re seeking. For example, it blends well with citrus oils as a “pick-me-up”, but also blends well with lavender essential oil as a relaxant. This makes it a versatile and popular oil that lends itself well to many combinations and practical uses. Try one of these recipes to start experiencing the benefits of frankincense oil:
Homemade Frankincense Soap Bar
Total Time: 30 minutes
20-30 drops frankincense essential oil
5 drops pomegranate oil
Oval Bar Molds or Decorative Soap Mold
Put soap base in a glass bowl then place that bowl in saucepan with water.
Heat stove to medium and allow the base to melt.
Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Then add the frankincense and pomegranate oil
Mix well and transfer to a soap mold
Let mixture cool thoroughly before popping bar out of the mold. Keep at room temp
Scar Reducing Body Butter
Total Time: 5 minutes
2 oz shea butter or coconut oil
10 drops of Jasmine Oil
10 drops Frankincense Oil
Small Container or jar to mix the ingredients
In a double boiler melt the shea butter until it is liquid
Make sure the oil is not so hot that it will burn you, then add the other oils and stir together to combine. Having the shea butter be room temperature, or a little warmer is best.
You can either smear it on your scar right away or if you’d like to make it into a shelf-stable cream texture, place the mixture in the fridge until it is cool for a few minutes then use a hand mixer on high speed to whip the oils into a white cream.
Pour into a glass jar or containers and keep it at room temperature to use whenever you want.
Sleep Inducing Facial Cream or Body Rub
Total Time: 5 minutes
This all natural night cream is great to help you fall asleep. It also doubles as a skin health-booster if you apply it to your face and may be able to help clear up blemishes or breakouts.
5 Drops Frankincense Essential Oil
5 Drops Lavender Essential Oil
1 1/2 Tablespoon Organic Coconut Oil
1/2 Teaspoon Olive Oil
Small Container or jar to mix the ingredients
1. Use coconut oil that is not solid, but rather is soft. If need be, heat it first in a double broiler
2. Add the other oils and stir together to combine. Spread over your face and body. You may want to pat yourself off after to not allow the oil to seep into your bed sheets. You can also store this to use at another time.
Homemade Frankincense and Myrrh Lotion
This Homemade Frankincense and Myrrh Body Lotion recipe are great! It brings hydration and essential vitamins and nutrients to the skin. Also, the essential oils tone, lift, heal and protect the skin! This recipe is a must try!
Total Time: 90 minutes
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup Beeswax
1/4 cup shea butter
2 tablespoon vitamin E
20 drops frankincense essential oil
20 drops myrrh essential oil
BPA free plastic lotion dispenser bottles
Put olive oil, coconut oil, beeswax and shea butter in a glass bowl then place that bowl in saucepan with water.
Heat stove to medium and mix ingredients together
Once mixed put in refrigerator for an hour until solid
With a regular mixer or hand, mixer beat the mixture until it is whipped and fluffy. Then add essential oils and vitamin E and mix
Fill container and store in cool place
Essential oils are very highly concentrated and potent and it is important to always check the specific safety data provided. Keep out of reach of children, the elderly, and pets. For external use only. Avoid contact with mucus membranes and eyes. If any essential oils have contacted your eye, wash out with a vegetable oil such as olive oil, not water.
Some oils may cause skin irritation in people with sensitive skin. It is recommended to perform a patch test before use. To patch test, place one drop on the back of your wrist and leave for an hour or more. If irritation or redness occurs wash the area with olive oil then cold water and do not use the oil.
We do not recommend the ingestion of essential oils except while under the care and direction of a qualified health practitioner.