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Frankincense (also called olibanum) is an aromatic resin used in incense and fragrances, acquired from trees of the genus boswellia in the family burseraceae. The word is from old french franc encens (‘ premium incense’).

There are a number of types 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 readily available in numerous grades, which depend on the time of harvesting. The resin is hand-sorted for quality.

Etymology and other names

The english word frankincense originates from the old french expression franc encens, implying ‘top quality incense’. The word franc in old french suggested ‘honorable, pure’.

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


Frankincense is the solidified gum-like material (resin) that originates from cuts made in the trunk of the boswellia carteri tree. Individuals utilize it to make medication.

Frankincense is used for colic and digestive gas (flatulence). It is often applied to the skin in hand cream.

The essential 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 species 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 last taps producing the very best tears due to their higher fragrant terpene, sesquiterpene and diterpene material. Generally speaking, the more opaque resins are the very best quality. Low-cost resin is produced in the horn of africa, which is the roman catholic church’s significant source.

The primary types 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 considered an independent types, however 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 scent of incense is less “heavy” than boswellia sacra. Contains no boswellic acids.

Other notable species:

Boswellia occulta: horn of africa. In 2019, it was found that somali harvesters considered boswellia occulta to be the same types with boswellia carteri even though their shapes are different, and offered resins from both types as the exact same thing. Nevertheless, the chemical compositions of their vital oils are completely various.

Recent studies indicate that frankincense tree populations are decreasing, partly due to over-exploitation. Greatly tapped trees produce seeds that sprout 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 reduced the tree population. Conversion (clearing) of frankincense woodlands to agriculture is also a significant danger.

Chemical composition

Structure of β-boswellic acid, one of the primary active parts of frankincense.

These are a few of the chemical compounds 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 different plants in the genus boswellia, only boswellia sacra, boswellia serrata and boswellia papyrifera have actually been validated to include significant amounts of boswellic acids.


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

The greek historian herodotus wrote in the history that frankincense was collected from trees in southern arabia. He reported that the gum threatened to harvest because of winged snakes that protect the trees, which the smoke from burning storax would drive the snakes away. Pliny the elder likewise mentioned frankincense in his naturalis historia.

Frankincense was reestablished to western europe by frankish crusaders, [citation needed] and other western europeans on their journeys to the eastern roman empire where it was typically used in church services. Although called frankincense, the name refers to the quality of incense brought to 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 custom-mades inspector zhao rugua wrote that: ruxiang or xunluxiang (chinese: 乳香 rǔ xiāng/ 薰陸香 xūn lù xiāng) comes from the three 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 drains, and, when hardened, becomes incense, which is collected and made into swellings; it is transported on elephants to the dashi ports, then on ship to sanfoqi; which is why it was known as an item of sanfoqi.

Benefits of frankincense oil

May decrease arthritis

Frankincense has anti-inflammatory impacts that might help in reducing joint inflammation caused by arthritis.

Researchers believe that frankincense can prevent the release of leukotrienes, which are substances that can cause inflammation.

Terpenes, consisting of boswellic acid, appear to be the greatest anti-inflammatory substances in frankincense.

In one 2014 study, both oral and topical boswellic acid reduced cartilage loss and joint lining swelling in osteoarthritis in mice.

In human beings, frankincense extract might help in reducing signs of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

In one 2018 review, frankincense was regularly more reliable than a placebo at reducing osteoarthritis discomfort and improving movement.

However, the review kept in mind that the quality of most studies was low and more research is required.

In a subsequent study, individuals took 169.33 mg of boswellia extract twice daily for 120 days. Outcomes indicated that the supplement minimized inflammation, joint discomfort, and tightness in moderate to moderate knee osteoarthritis, without major side effects.

Another research study discovered that oliban oil, another name for frankincense, minimized osteoarthritis pain when applied to the skin for 6 weeks. Nevertheless, individuals’ ability to do everyday activities or participate in sports didn’t show substantial improvements.

Combinations of frankincense with other supplements might likewise work.

A 2018 research study found that 350 mg curcuminoid and 150 mg boswellic acid supplement taken 3 times each day for 12 weeks was connected with reduced osteoarthritis pain. The mix was more efficient than curcumin by itself or a placebo.

Likewise, taking a mix of 5 g of methylsulfonylmethane and 7.2 mg of boswellic acids daily for 60 days was more reliable at enhancing discomfort and function than taking glucosamine sulfate, a basic supplement for osteoarthritis).

For rheumatoid arthritis, researchers caused arthritis in rats then treated them with 180 mg/kg of boswellia extract. They found that frankincense decreased swelling however wasn’t as effective as standard medications.

In general, more research study is needed, especially for rheumatoid arthritis.

May enhance gut function

Frankincense’s anti-inflammatory homes may likewise help your gut function appropriately.

One 2017 study found that frankincense, in mix with other natural medicines, reduced abdominal discomfort, bloating, and even associated depression and anxiety in individuals with irritable bowel syndrome (ibs).

Another research study also showed that boswellia 250 mg tablets taken daily for 6 months enhanced symptoms in individuals with ibs.

This resin appears particularly effective at reducing signs of ulcerative colitis, among the primary inflammatory gut conditions.

A study discovered that boswellia extract taken daily for 4 weeks improved symptoms in individuals with mild ulcerative colitis in remission.

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

However, most studies were small or not done in individuals. For that reason, more research study is needed prior to strong conclusions can be made.

Enhances asthma

Conventional medication has actually utilized frankincense to deal with bronchitis and asthma for centuries.

Research suggests that its compounds might prevent the production of leukotrienes, which trigger the bronchial muscles to restrict in asthma.

Frankincense might also impact th2 cytokines, which can cause swelling and mucus overproduction in individuals with asthma.

In one small study, people who took a day-to-day supplement of 500 mg boswellia extract in addition to their standard asthma treatment were able to take fewer inhalations of their routine medications during the 4-week study.

Additionally, when researchers gave 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 decreasing asthma signs.

In another research study, asthma signs in mice improved with boswellic acid, an element of frankincense resin.

Maintains oral health

Frankincense might assist enhance oral hygiene and prevent gum disease.

The boswellic acids it offers appear to have strong anti-bacterial residential or commercial properties, which may assist avoid and deal with oral infections.

In one test-tube research study, frankincense extract was effective versus aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans, a germs that causes aggressive gum illness.

In another really small study, individuals chewed gum consisting of frankincense for 5 hours, with saliva samples indicating lowered varieties of microorganisms each hour.

The authors recommended that frankincense might decrease sources of infection in the mouth.

However, more research is required on the result of frankincense on oral health.

May have anticancer homes

Research studies show that frankincense might have anticancer results.

Test-tube research studies suggest that the boswellic acids it contains might avoid cancer cells from dispersing.

A research review keeps in mind that boswellic acids might likewise prevent the development of dna in malignant cells, which might help limit cancer development.

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

It may likewise help reduce negative effects of cancer treatment.

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

More benefits

Frankincense’s anti-inflammatory results may help reduce signs of osteoarthritis and perhaps rheumatoid arthritis. Nevertheless, more top quality research studies are required to validate these effects.

Frankincense may help in reducing signs of ibs and ulcerative colitis by lowering swelling in your gut. However, more research is required.

Frankincense may assist eliminate asthma signs and minimize the amount of asthma medication required. Bigger studies ought to be done to confirm these outcomes.

Frankincense extract might help combat gum illness and preserve oral health. Nevertheless, more research studies are needed. [3]

Helps in reducing stress responses and negative emotions

When inhaled, frankincense oil 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 unfavorable negative effects or trigger undesirable sleepiness.

A 2019 study discovered that compounds in frankincense, incensole and incensole acetate, have the capability to activate ion channels in the brain to reduce anxiety or anxiety.

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

Researchers suggest that this channel in the brain is implicated in the perception of warmth in the skin.

Secures skin and prevents indications of aging

Frankincense advantages include the ability to strengthen skin and enhance its tone, elasticity, defense reaction against bacteria or blemishes, and appearance as somebody ages. It may assist tone and lift skin, decrease the appearance of scars and acne, and deal with injuries.

It might likewise be advantageous for fading stretch marks, surgical treatment scars or marks related to pregnancy, and recovery dry or split skin.

An evaluation published in the journal of traditional and complementary medicine suggests that frankincense oil reduces soreness and skin irritation, while likewise 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 soothing effect on irritated skin.

Improves memory

Research suggests that frankincense oil can be used to improve memory and learning functions. Some animal research studies even show that using frankincense during pregnancy might increase the memory of a mom’s offspring.

In one such study, when pregnant rats received frankincense orally throughout their gestation period, there was a significant increase in the power of knowing, short-term memory and long-lasting memory of their offspring.

May assist stabilize hormonal agents and improve fertility

Frankincense oil advantages may include minimizing signs related to menstruation and menopause by balancing hormonal agent levels, although the research study on this topic is limited. It has been used to help relieve:.

  • Pain
  • Cramps
  • Constipation
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Tiredness
  • State of mind swings

Frankincense oil may likewise assist with regulating estrogen production and might reduce the threat of tumor or cyst development in premenopausal females.

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

Alleviates food digestion

Frankincense helps the digestive system properly detox and produce defecation. Research suggests that it may likewise assist to reduce discomfort and cramping in the stomach, relieve nausea, flush out excess water from the abdomen that can trigger bloating, and even relieve pms-related stomach pains.

It does this by speeding up the secretion of digestive enzymes, increasing urination production, unwinding the muscles of the digestion system and helping improve blood circulation, which is needed for appropriate digestion health. It’s been revealed to be helpful in minimizing symptoms of leaking gut syndrome, chronic colitis, ulcerative colitis, crohn’s illness and ibs.

Serve as a sleep aid

Frankincense uses include reducing levels of anxiety and chronic tension that can keep you up during the night. It has a relaxing, grounding aroma that can naturally assist you to go to sleep.

This natural sleep help assists open breathing passages, enables your body to reach a perfect sleeping temperature level and can eliminate pain that keeps you up, which has actually been validated in research studies examining frankincense substances. [4]

Respiratory health

Standard chinese medicine and the indian ayurvedic system have been utilizing frankincense for quite a long time to treat bronchitis and asthma, knowing the respiratory health benefits.

Some studies have actually discovered frankincense may help in reducing the chance of an asthma attack and asthmatic-related signs, such as shortness of breath. According to one six-week research study, 70 percent of asthmatic participants showed improvement after utilizing frankincense frequently. [5]
The primary chemical constituents of the important oil are limonene, pinene, borneol, farnesol, phellandrene, myrcene, and other constituents. Limonene shows antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-fungal homes. It is believed to lower feelings of anxiety and to stimulate the immune system. Pinene is known to enhance and rejuvenate the respiratory system and is reported to have diuretic properties based upon empirical proof. Borneol contributes tonic, anesthetic, sedative and anti-spasmodic homes to this oil. Farnesol is the component that allows this oil to lower 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 lower the appearance of wrinkles and skin flaws such as discoloration. It promotes the growth of new cells, hence when used on cuts it promotes much faster healing.

Utilized in aromatherapy, frankincense works as an expectorant to clear the nasal passage, promote the relief of congestion, and encourage easy breathing. It’s sweet, woody aroma is sedative and boosts mood by decreasing sensations of tension and anxiety while enhancing concentration and memory.

Utilized medicinally, this anti-inflammatory oil is known to relieve irritated skin by lowering the feelings of redness, swelling, and itching. It helps to disinfect and tighten the pores, thus promoting the fast healing of cuts, wounds, and scars. It is utilized to ease flatulence, stimulate the growth of brand-new skin cells, and stimulate blood circulation and blood circulation among other proficiencies.

As shown, frankincense important oil is deemed to have lots of restorative residential or commercial properties. The following highlights its lots of 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 perhaps safe. It might trigger skin irritation in some people.

When inhaled: frankincense important oil is potentially safe. There isn’t adequate dependable information to understand what the side effects might be.

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


Boswellia may be safe when taken by mouth for as much as six months. It could be safe when applied to the skin for up to 5 weeks. But follow your doctor’s directions.

Boswellia might trigger adverse effects, including:.

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

Boswellia is a natural extract, however it can still have side effects. It might cause gastrointestinal side effects, such as queasiness, heartburn, and diarrhea.

Some individuals might experience skin rashes when using boswellia, specifically if they use it straight to the skin.

Boswellia appears to act as an anti-inflammatory. As a result, it might communicate with similar drugs, such as nsaids. It is important to talk to a physician before taking boswellia together with other medications, such as:.

  • Aspirin
  • Naproxen
  • Ibuprofen

Boswellia may also hinder the action of specific drugs, including some anticoagulant medications and antiplatelet drugs. Anybody taking these drugs ought to talk to a doctor before taking boswellia. [9]

Conventional Utilizes

The oleoresin gum from b. Serrata has typically been used for its anti-inflammatory effects in conditions such as asthma, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome. It has also been utilized for the management of diabetes, urinary conditions, skin-related disorders, and kidney problems. Boswellic acids have actually shown immunomodulatory, antiproliferative, cytotoxic, and antimicrobial impacts; however, there are no sufficient clinical trials to support any of the uses.


Administration with high-fat foods might improve 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 utilized. 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. Two capsules 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 utilized for inflammatory conditions such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Ulcerative colitis: 350 to 400 mg 3 times daily. [10]


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