What is Frankincense Essential Oil and How Does it Work?

What is Frankincense Essential Oil and How Does it Work?

Frankincense essential oil has been revered for thousands of years. This regal resin derivative has benefited generations who used it for longevity and spiritual connection. As we continue on our mission to unearth nature's marvels, we invite you to explore this time-honored essential oil, specifically focusing on the extraordinary Boswellia sacra and Boswellia carterii species. There are many other frankincense species, all with their own unique profiles, but these two offer particular promise when it comes to inflammation reduction, immune support, skin health, and spiritual awakening.

Sacred Sap: The Origins of Frankincense

Frankincense hails from the aromatic resin of Boswellia trees, specifically Boswellia sacra, native to the Arabian Peninsula, and Boswellia carterii, predominantly found in East Africa. Beyond the obvious color differences—the sacra resin typically being more green, brown, and tan, and carterii being more orange-yellow—each species possesses a unique aromatic profile.

Traditional Uses: A Sacred Walk Through History

Frankincense has a storied history of use across multiple cultures and religions. In ancient Egypt, it was utilized for both spiritual rites and medicinal practices, often used in anti-aging skin treatments. The Greeks and Romans burned Frankincense in temples and public spaces to clear the air, both literally and metaphorically. In Ayurvedic medicine, it is commonly used to balance the Doshas—body's elemental energies—and to assist in meditation. The use of Frankincense in Christian ceremonies, as an offering to the divine, showcases its universality and sanctity.

Chemical Constituents: The Chemistry of Frankincense

Boswellia Sacra

Alpha-Thujene (0.6%), Alpha-Pinene (68.2%), Camphene (2.1%), Sabinene (2.9%), Beta-Pinene (2.0%), Myrcene (0.7%), Limonene + Beta-Phellandrene (6.2%)

Boswellia Carterii

Alpha-Thujene (7.9%), Alpha-Pinene (37.3%), Camphene (0.8%), Sabinene (4.9%), Beta-Pinene (1.8%), Myrcene (7.3%), Limonene + Beta-Phellandrene (14.4%)

The Benefits of Frankincense

The high Alpha-Pinene content in Boswellia sacra, constituting approximately 68.2% of its composition, suggests a potent anti-inflammatory effect. Alpha-Pinene is known for its ability to modulate the body's inflammatory response, making sacra potentially more effective for acute inflammation issues and respiratory conditions where inflammation is a significant factor.

In contrast, Boswellia carterii has a more balanced profile with notable levels of Myrcene (7.3%) and Limonene (14.4%). Both these constituents have been researched for their anti-inflammatory and immune-modulating effects. Myrcene is often studied for its role in calming the muscles and the mind, while Limonene has exhibited defenses against infection and inflammation caused by COVID 19.

Therefore, if you are targeting acute inflammation and respiratory health, Boswellia sacra might be your go-to. For a broader, more balanced immune support and anti-inflammatory relief, Boswellia carterii could be more appropriate. Both of these oils have been used in traditional meditation and prayer for generations, and may help amplify your spiritual experiences.

Frankincense essential oil has been shown to promote skin cells by promoting tissue remodeling in skin cells. This study also shows that frankincense is antiproliferative to human dermal fibroblasts.

Usage Ideas

The uses for frankincense are almost innumerable, and include improved skin health, anti-inflammatory effects, immune modulation, relief from anxiety, meditation support. Here are some ideas you can incorporate into your daily routine.

  • Add a few drops of either oil into your daily moisturizer for glowing skin.
  • Diffuse Boswellia Sacra during your daily prayer or meditation for an enhanced spiritual experience.
  • Massage Boswellia Sacra into aching joints for some quick relief of inflammation.
  • Ingest either oil for systemic inflammatory support and to modulate your immune system, restoring balance.
  • Add a few drops to your hand and inhale directly to reduce feelings of anxiety.

Conclusion - The Final Notes

From the sacred corners of Arabian Peninsula's Boswellia sacra trees to the rich, orange-yellow resin of East Africa's Boswellia carterii, each holds a treasure trove of healing constituents. Boswellia sacra's high Alpha-Pinene content lends it potent anti-inflammatory powers, ideal for targeting acute inflammation and respiratory conditions. On the other hand, Boswellia carterii offers a balanced profile, rich in Myrcene and Limonene, making it a versatile choice for broad-spectrum immune support.

Whether you are seeking relief from inflammation, a boost in immune health, or the time-honored spiritual uplift that Frankincense offers, let this ancient yet ever-relevant resin guide you in your wellness journey.

Stay Inspired. Stay Connected

Seeds of Thyme is dedicated to providing education about the use of essential oils. This information is intended for educational purposes only and not as medical advice. Always consult with a health practitioner before starting any new health regimen.


Research and References

  1. Chemical differentiation of Boswellia sacra and Boswellia carterii essential oils by gas chromatography and chiral gas chromatography–mass spectrometry https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0021967312009673
  2. Biological activities of frankincense essential oil in human dermal fibroblasts https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5801908/ 
  3. Effects of Frankincense Compounds on Infection, Inflammation, and Oral Health https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9268443/ 
  4. Can limonene be a possible candidate for evaluation as an agent or adjuvant against infection, immunity, and inflammation in COVID-19? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7810623/
  5. Myrcene—What Are the Potential Health Benefits of This Flavouring and Aroma Agent? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8326332/
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