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Frankincense (likewise known as olibanum) is an aromatic resin utilized in incense and fragrances, acquired from trees of the genus boswellia in the family burseraceae. The word is from old french franc encens (‘ high-quality incense’).

There are numerous types of boswellia that produce real 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 different grades, which depend upon the time of harvesting. The resin is hand-sorted for quality.

Etymology and other names

The english word frankincense derives from the old french expression franc encens, meaning ‘top quality incense’. The word franc in old french implied ‘worthy, pure’.

Although named frankincense, the name is not referring to the franks. [1]


Frankincense is the hardened gum-like product (resin) that originates from cuts made in the trunk of the boswellia carteri tree. People utilize it to make medicine.

Frankincense is utilized for colic and digestive gas (flatulence). It is in some cases applied to the skin in hand cream.

The necessary oil of frankincense is utilized on the skin and by inhalation as a pain-killer. [2]


Flowers and branches of the boswellia sacra tree, the types from which people produce most frankincense.

The trees begin producing resin at about eight to ten years old. Tapping is done two to three times a year with the final taps producing the best tears due to their greater fragrant terpene, sesquiterpene and diterpene content. Generally speaking, the more opaque resins are the very best quality. Inexpensive resin is produced in the horn of africa, which is the roman catholic church’s major source.

The primary species in trade are:

  • Boswellia sacra: south arabia.
  • Boswellia bhaw-dajiana (older spelling boswellia bhau-dajiana): horn of africa. It is a synonym of boswellia sacra.
  • Boswellia carteri (older spelling boswellia carterii): horn of africa, nubia. it was long thought about an independent species, but in the 1980s discovered to be a synonym of (is the same types with) boswellia sacra.
  • Boswellia serrata (synonym boswellia thurifera, indian frankincense): india.
  • Boswellia papyrifera: ethiopia, eritrea, sudan.
  • Boswellia frereana: horn of africa. Resin is less bitter than, and fragrance of incense is less “heavy” than boswellia sacra. Consists of no boswellic acids.

Other notable types:

Boswellia occulta: horn of africa. In 2019, it was discovered that somali harvesters thought about boswellia occulta to be the same species with boswellia carteri even though their shapes are various, and offered resins from both species as the very same thing. However, the chemical compositions of their essential oils are totally different.

Current research studies suggest that frankincense tree populations are decreasing, partially due to over-exploitation. Heavily tapped trees produce seeds that germinate at just 16% while seeds of trees that had actually not been tapped sprout at more than 80%. In addition, burning, grazing, and attacks by the longhorn beetle have actually lowered the tree population. Conversion (clearing) of frankincense woodlands to farming is also a significant risk.

Chemical composition

Structure of β-boswellic acid, among the primary active components of frankincense.

These are some of the chemical substances present in frankincense:.

  • Acid resin (6%), soluble in alcohol and having the formula c20h32o4
  • Gum (comparable to gum arabic) 30– 36%
  • 3-acetyl-beta-boswellic acid (boswellia sacra)
  • Alpha-boswellic acid (boswellia sacra)
  • Incensole acetate, c21h34o3
  • Phellandrene
  • Amongst various plants in the genus boswellia, just boswellia sacra, boswellia serrata and boswellia papyrifera have actually been validated to include substantial quantities of boswellic acids.


Frankincense has actually been traded on the arabian peninsula for more than 5,000 years. Frankincense was likewise traded from the horn of africa during the silk road age.

The greek historian herodotus wrote in the history that frankincense was collected from trees in southern arabia. He reported that the gum was dangerous to harvest because of winged snakes that guard the trees, which the smoke from burning storax would drive the snakes away. Pliny the older also pointed out frankincense in his naturalis historia.

Frankincense was reintroduced to western europe by frankish crusaders, [citation needed] and other western europeans on their journeys to the eastern roman empire where it was typically utilized in church services. Although called frankincense, the name refers to the quality of incense gave western europe, not to the franks themselves.

Southern arabia was an exporter of frankincense in antiquity, with some of it being traded as far as china. The 13th-century chinese writer and customs inspector zhao rugua wrote that: ruxiang or xunluxiang (chinese: 乳香 rǔ xiāng/ 薰陸香 xūn lù xiāng) comes from the 3 dashi states (chinese: 大食 dàshí – caliphate (arab muslims)) of maloba (murbat), shihe (shihr), and nufa (dhofar), from the depths of the remotest mountains; the trunk of the tree is notched with a hatchet, upon which the resin flows out, and, when solidified, becomes incense, which is collected and made into lumps; it is carried on elephants to the dashi ports, then on ship to sanfoqi; which is why it was called an item of sanfoqi.

Benefits of frankincense oil

May minimize arthritis

Frankincense has anti-inflammatory impacts that may help in reducing joint inflammation triggered by arthritis.

Researchers believe that frankincense can avoid the release of leukotrienes, which are substances that can cause swelling.

Terpenes, including boswellic acid, seem the greatest anti-inflammatory substances in frankincense.

In one 2014 research study, both oral and topical boswellic acid decreased cartilage loss and joint lining inflammation in osteoarthritis in mice.

In people, frankincense extract may help in reducing signs of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

In one 2018 review, frankincense was regularly more efficient than a placebo at lowering osteoarthritis discomfort and improving mobility.

However, the evaluation noted that the quality of a lot of studies was low and more research study is required.

In a subsequent study, individuals took 169.33 mg of boswellia extract twice daily for 120 days. Results suggested that the supplement minimized swelling, joint discomfort, and stiffness in moderate to moderate knee osteoarthritis, without severe adverse effects.

Another research study discovered that oliban oil, another name for frankincense, lowered osteoarthritis discomfort when applied to the skin for 6 weeks. However, participants’ capability to do day-to-day activities or take part in sports didn’t show substantial enhancements.

Mixes of frankincense with other supplements may also be effective.

A 2018 study found that 350 mg curcuminoid and 150 mg boswellic acid supplement taken 3 times per day for 12 weeks was related to decreased osteoarthritis pain. The mix was more reliable than curcumin on its own or a placebo.

Similarly, taking a combination of 5 g of methylsulfonylmethane and 7.2 mg of boswellic acids daily for 60 days was more efficient at improving discomfort and function than taking glucosamine sulfate, a basic supplement for osteoarthritis).

For rheumatoid arthritis, scientists induced arthritis in rats then treated them with 180 mg/kg of boswellia extract. They discovered that frankincense decreased swelling but wasn’t as reliable as standard medications.

Overall, more research is needed, particularly for rheumatoid arthritis.

Might improve gut function

Frankincense’s anti-inflammatory residential or commercial properties might likewise assist your gut function properly.

One 2017 research study discovered that frankincense, in mix with other organic medications, lowered stomach discomfort, bloating, and even associated anxiety and anxiety in individuals with irritable bowel syndrome (ibs).

Another research study likewise indicated that boswellia 250 mg tablets taken daily for 6 months improved symptoms in people with ibs.

This resin appears particularly efficient at lowering signs of ulcerative colitis, one of the main inflammatory gut conditions.

A study found that boswellia extract taken daily for 4 weeks improved symptoms in people with moderate ulcerative colitis in remission.

Boswellia extract also had anti-inflammatory and antioxidant impacts in rats with colitis.

However, most studies were little or not done in people. For that reason, more research is needed before strong conclusions can be made.

Enhances asthma

Standard medication has actually used frankincense to deal with bronchitis and asthma for centuries.

Research recommends that its compounds may avoid the production of leukotrienes, which cause the bronchial muscles to constrict in asthma.

Frankincense might likewise affect th2 cytokines, which can trigger inflammation and mucus overproduction in people with asthma.

In one small research study, individuals who took a daily supplement of 500 mg boswellia extract in addition to their standard asthma treatment were able to take less inhalations of their regular medications throughout the 4-week research study.

In addition, when scientists provided individuals 200 mg of a supplement made from frankincense and the south asian fruit bael (aegle marmelos), they found that the supplement was more effective than a placebo at minimizing asthma symptoms.

In another research study, asthma symptoms in mice enhanced with boswellic acid, a part of frankincense resin.

Maintains oral health

Frankincense might help enhance oral hygiene and prevent gum disease.

The boswellic acids it offers appear to have strong antibacterial residential or commercial properties, which may help avoid and treat oral infections.

In one test-tube study, frankincense extract was effective against aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans, a bacteria that triggers aggressive gum disease.

In another very small study, individuals chewed gum including frankincense for 5 hours, with saliva samples suggesting reduced varieties of microorganisms each hour.

The authors suggested that frankincense may decrease sources of infection in the mouth.

Nevertheless, more research study is needed on the result of frankincense on oral health.

Might have anticancer homes

Studies reveal that frankincense may have anticancer impacts.

Test-tube research studies suggest that the boswellic acids it consists of may prevent cancer cells from spreading.

A research study evaluation notes that boswellic acids may also prevent the development of dna in malignant cells, which might help limit cancer growth.

So far, test-tube research studies recommend that frankincense may fight breast, prostate, pancreatic, skin, and colon cancer cells.

It may likewise help in reducing adverse effects of cancer treatment.

In one study of individuals being treated for brain tumors, 4,500 mg of boswellic acid extract taken each day helped reduce brain edema– a build-up of fluid in the brain– while likewise reducing participants’ routine medication dose.

More advantages

Frankincense’s anti-inflammatory results might help reduce signs of osteoarthritis and perhaps rheumatoid arthritis. Nevertheless, more premium studies are required to verify these results.

Frankincense might help in reducing symptoms of ibs and ulcerative colitis by decreasing swelling in your gut. However, more research study is required.

Frankincense might help ease asthma signs and decrease the amount of asthma medication needed. Larger research studies need to be done to confirm these results.

Frankincense extract may assist battle gum illness and preserve oral health. However, more studies are needed. [3]

Helps reduce stress responses and negative emotions

When breathed in, frankincense oil been shown to reduce heart rate and hypertension. It has anti-anxiety and depression-reducing abilities, however unlike prescription medications, it does not have negative effects or cause undesirable sleepiness.

A 2019 study found that substances in frankincense, incensole and incensole acetate, have the ability to activate ion channels in the brain to relieve anxiety or anxiety.

In a research study involving mice, burning boswellia resin as incense had antidepressive impacts: “incensole acetate, an incense element, elicits psychoactivity by activating trpv3 channels in the brain.”.

Scientists suggest that this channel in the brain is linked in the perception of warmth in the skin.

Protects skin and avoids signs of aging

Frankincense benefits consist of the capability to enhance skin and improve its tone, flexibility, defense mechanisms versus bacteria or imperfections, and appearance as someone ages. It might help tone and lift skin, decrease the look of scars and acne, and treat injuries.

It may also be beneficial for fading stretch marks, surgical treatment scars or marks connected with pregnancy, and healing dry or cracked skin.

An evaluation published in the journal of standard and complementary medication suggests that frankincense oil reduces inflammation and skin inflammation, while also producing a more even skin tone. Research studies suggest that it’s the pentacyclic triterpene (steroid-like) structure of frankincense oil that adds to its calming effect on irritated skin.

Enhances memory

Research recommends that frankincense oil can be utilized to enhance memory and discovering functions. Some animal studies even show that using frankincense during pregnancy might increase the memory of a mom’s offspring.

In one such research study, when pregnant rats got frankincense orally throughout their gestation duration, there was a substantial increase in the power of learning, short-term memory and long-lasting memory of their offspring.

May help balance hormones and enhance fertility

Frankincense oil advantages might consist of lowering signs related to menstruation and menopause by balancing hormonal agent levels, although the research on this subject is restricted. It has actually been used to help alleviate:.

  • Pain
  • Cramps
  • Constipation
  • Headaches
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Tiredness
  • State of mind swings

Frankincense oil may likewise help with regulating estrogen production and might minimize the danger of growth or cyst advancement in premenopausal women.

Animal studies have actually shown that frankincense oil can be used as a fertility-promoting agent, which might be due to the oil’s chemical structure acting similarly to that of steroids. When frankincense was utilized on rats internally, it increased fertility and the number of implantations and viable fetuses, which recommends that the oil might potentially increase sperm motility and density.

Eases food digestion

Frankincense helps the digestive system correctly detox and produce bowel movements. Research indicates that it may also help to decrease discomfort and cramping in the stomach, relieve queasiness, eliminate excess water from the abdomen that can trigger bloating, and even relieve pms-related stomach discomforts.

It does this by speeding up the secretion of digestion enzymes, increasing urination production, relaxing the muscles of the digestion tract and helping enhance flow, which is required for appropriate gastrointestinal health. It’s been revealed to be helpful in lowering signs of leaky gut syndrome, persistent colitis, ulcerative colitis, crohn’s disease and ibs.

Serve as a sleep help

Frankincense utilizes include lowering levels of anxiety and chronic tension that can keep you up at night. It has a soothing, grounding fragrance that can naturally help you to drop off to sleep.

This natural sleep help helps open breathing passages, permits your body to reach a perfect sleeping temperature level and can eliminate discomfort that keeps you up, which has been confirmed in studies analyzing frankincense substances. [4]

Breathing health

Traditional chinese medicine and the indian ayurvedic system have actually been utilizing frankincense for rather some time to treat bronchitis and asthma, knowing the respiratory health benefits.

Some studies have found frankincense might help in reducing the possibility of an asthma attack and asthmatic-related symptoms, such as shortness of breath. According to one six-week research study, 70 percent of asthmatic participants showed improvement after using frankincense regularly. [5]
The primary chemical constituents of the essential oil are limonene, pinene, borneol, farnesol, phellandrene, myrcene, and other constituents. Limonene shows antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-fungal homes. It is believed to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety and to stimulate the immune system. Pinene is known to reinforce and invigorate the breathing system and is reported to have actually diuretic properties based on empirical evidence. Borneol contributes tonic, anesthetic, sedative and anti-spasmodic homes to this oil. Farnesol is the component that permits this oil to reduce the user’s indications of aging by smoothing the appearance of wrinkles and increasing skin’s flexibility.

Utilized topically and cosmetically, its astringent and cytophylactic qualities assist frankincense oil to decrease the appearance of wrinkles and skin flaws such as discoloration. It promotes the development of new cells, hence when utilized on cuts it promotes quicker healing.

Utilized in aromatherapy, frankincense works as an expectorant to clear the nasal passageway, promote the relief of blockage, and encourage easy breathing. It’s sweet, woody fragrance is sedative and boosts state of mind by lessening sensations of stress and anxiety while improving concentration and memory.

Used medicinally, this anti-inflammatory oil is understood to soothe irritated skin by decreasing the experiences of inflammation, swelling, and itching. It assists to decontaminate and tighten the pores, consequently promoting the rapid recovery of cuts, injuries, and scars. It is used to alleviate flatulence, promote the growth of brand-new skin cells, and stimulate blood circulation and flow to name a few competencies.

As shown, frankincense important oil is reputed to have lots of therapeutic residential or commercial properties. The following highlights its numerous benefits and the kinds of activity it is believed to show:.


Astringent, cytophylactic.


Carminative, expectorant, sedative.


Bactericide, anti-inflammatory, astringent, carminative, cicatrisant, cytophylactic, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, tonic. [6]

Side-effects & allergic reactions of frankincense oil

When applied to the skin: frankincense necessary oil or gum extract is potentially safe. It may cause skin inflammation in some individuals.

When breathed in: frankincense important oil is possibly safe. There isn’t adequate reputable information to understand what the side effects might be.

For details on the security of taking frankincense by mouth, see boswellia serrata. [7]


Boswellia might be safe when taken by mouth for approximately 6 months. It could be safe when applied to the skin for approximately 5 weeks. However follow your healthcare provider’s instructions.

Boswellia might cause negative effects, including:.

  • Queasiness
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Heartburn
  • Heartburn
  • Allergic reactions [8]

Boswellia is a natural extract, but it can still have side effects. It may cause digestion negative effects, such as queasiness, acid reflux, and diarrhea.

Some people might experience skin rashes when using boswellia, especially if they apply it directly to the skin.

Boswellia appears to function as an anti-inflammatory. As a result, it may interact with comparable drugs, such as nsaids. It is necessary to talk with a medical professional prior to taking boswellia along with other medications, such as:.

  • Aspirin
  • Naproxen
  • Ibuprofen

Boswellia may likewise interfere with the action of specific drugs, consisting of some anticoagulant medications and antiplatelet drugs. Anyone taking these drugs need to speak to a doctor before taking boswellia. [9]

Traditional Uses

The oleoresin gum from b. Serrata has actually typically been utilized for its anti-inflammatory effects in conditions such as asthma, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome. It has actually likewise been utilized for the management of diabetes, urinary conditions, skin-related disorders, and renal disability. Boswellic acids have actually demonstrated immunomodulatory, antiproliferative, cytotoxic, and antimicrobial results; nevertheless, there are no adequate clinical trials to support any of the usages.


Administration with high-fat foods may boost plasma levels of b. Serrata. Asthma: 300 to 400 mg of an extract (consisting of 60% boswellic acids) 3 times daily. In one trial, 300 mg 3 times daily of powdered gum resin pills (s-compound), or 400 mg 3 times daily of an extract (standardized to 37.5% boswellic acids per dose) was used. Inflammatory conditions: 300 to 400 mg of a b. Serrata extract (consisting of 60% boswellic acids) 3 times daily was used in a clinical trial of patients with knee osteoarthritis. 2 pills of articulin-f (includes b. Serrata, withania somnifera, curcuma longa, zinc complex) 3 times daily; or supplements with casperome (150 mg of boswellic acids) 3 times daily has actually been used for inflammatory conditions such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Ulcerative colitis: 350 to 400 mg 3 times daily. [10]


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