Frankincense, also known by the name Olibanum is a white colored resin obtained from trees belonging to the genus Boswellia. These trees are mostly found in the cool and arid regions of India, Arabian Peninsula and East Africa. Frankincense has a wonderful and attractive aroma, because of which it is used in making perfumes and incense. There is also mention about frankincense in the Bible as one of the gifts presented to baby Jesus by the three wise men. Burning of Frankincense is common religious practices in ancient Egypt and also with many people today. It burns with white smoke which provides serene spiritual feeling. Frankincense can be obtained in many types, and the quality of each type depends on its age, color, aroma, shape and purity. The two types that are considered to be the highest grades of frankincense are Silver and Hojari.
Medicinal uses of Frankincense
In traditional medicine, Frankincense finds a wide range of uses such as dental care, skin care and treatment of various health problems. In addition to the resin, every part of the tree such as the root, bud, bark, flower and fruit have been used for several medicinal purposes. In some places, the bark is powdered and a paste is created that has astringent properties. This paste is considered to be a remedy for swelling or edema. The gum of frankincense tree is boiled in milk and then made into a paste. This paste is used as a remedy for mastitis, which is a condition characterized by the inflammation of breast tissue.
The resin is used as a remedy for treating dental infections, gum problems and also to strengthen the teeth. It has antiseptic properties and in many countries the resin is used as an important ingredient in eye washes and for treating various eye diseases. In some places a cleansing tea is made by brewing the bark of the frankincense tree. This tea is considered to be effective for relieving stomach problems. The bark has antiseptic properties and hence is used to treat wounds and burns. Frankincense finds use as an expectorant as it helps in clearing phlegm from the chest during flu colds and other infections of the upper respiratory tract.
Frankincense is believed to help in eliminating tiredness and in improving memory. The smoke obtained by burning the resin is helpful in providing relief to severe headaches. The smoke also helps in repelling insects and hence is used as a remedy to prevent the bites of mosquitoes that could cause diseases like malaria. According to research, frankincense shows anti-inflammatory effects, which makes it very useful in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases. It is also found to be effective in the treatment of diseases like Crohn’s disease and colitis.
Health benefits of frankincense essential oil
Frankincense essential oil is an aromatic essential oil obtained by the steam distillation of the resin. With an aroma that is soothing and calming to the mind, this oil is found to have various health benefits. It is a popular ingredient in cosmetics and has been used for a long time in the Middle East during religious ceremonies. It is used in aromatherapy and is found to be very effective in offering relaxation and mental peace. It also helps in relieving stress, anxiety, and anger. Given below are some of the health benefits offered by frankincense essential oil:
Frankincense oil improves oral health
Frankincense essential oil has strong antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, which makes it useful as an effective remedy against oral and dental problems like cavities, toothaches, swollen gums, bad breath, mouth sores, and other oral infections. This oil has been long used as an important ingredient in many oral care products. Frankincense oil can be used to make a mouthwash by combining it with water and peppermint or myrrh. You can also prepare natural toothpaste by combining it with baking soda.
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Frankincense oil can boost your immunity
Essential oil Frankincense is considered effective in supporting the immune system. It does this by increasing the number of lymphocytes or white blood cells (the body’s main defense team) and also by preventing inflammation. It promotes the absorption of nutrients by your body and thereby strengthens your immunity. A popular remedy to fight ailments is to rub diluted frankincense essential oil on the bottom of your feet. According to research on human cells, frankincense essential oil may have cancer-fighting and immune-stimulating properties that could help in preventing breast cancer and pancreatic cancer.
Frankincense oil has anti-cancer effects
The researchers from University of Leicester have discovered that frankincense has cancer killing properties. According to these researchers, the resin contains a compound known as acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid (AKBA), which has the potential to kill ovarian cancer cells in patients suffering from late-stage ovarian cancer. The study showed that the cells that are resistant to chemotherapy appeared to be more sensitive to AKBA, which suggests that frankincense may help overcome resistance to drugs, and hence improve the survival rate for late-stage ovarian cancer patients. Previous studies on this compound have also shown that it is effective in treating many other types of cancers such as breast, brain, colon, stomach, pancreatic and prostate cancers.
Frankincense oil and skin benefits
Frankincense has the ability to regenerate skin cells. It has astringent properties, which helps in it tightening the skin and balancing the pH. It helps to even skin tone as well as diminish the appearance of scars and spots. It also tightens and lifts the skin. The application of this oil promotes faster healing of wounds, boils, acne, scars, wounds, and other skin problems. In addition to encouraging the growth of new cells, frankincense oil also helps in protecting the already existing cells. The astringent property of this oil makes it a perfect anti-aging remedy that reduces wrinkles, fine lines and pigmentation.
Frankincense oil offers benefits to your hair
Frankincense oil helps in making the hair roots stronger, thereby preventing hair fall or loss of hair. It imparts a healthier shine to your hair and is also found to be effective in preventing the occurrence of dandruff.
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Frankincense oil is good for the heart
Frankincense is known to reduce the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides levels, thereby protecting the heart from various medical conditions including atherosclerosis.
Frankincense oil as a remedy for arthritis
Studies reveal that frankincense is helpful in reducing the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis. According to the study, applying the oil on the skin helped to increase the mobility in knee joints up to 70 per cent and also decreased swelling of the knee-joint by 50 to 60 per cent. The frequency of the swelling was also found to be reduced significantly. The oil was also found to provide better and immediate relief when compared to the conventional anti-inflammatory treatments using ibuprofen.
Frankincense oil helps to relieve anxiety and stress
Frankincense oil acts a sedative and is found to be effective reducing anxiety and stress. It promotes deep breathing and has a calming and relaxing effect on you. When you feel stressed or anxious, try adding a few drops of frankincense oil to a vaporizer or diffuser. The aroma of the oil helps in opening up your breathing passages and in reducing your blood pressure. As a result you will feel more relaxed, calm and at mental peace.
Frankincense oil for respiratory problems
Frankincense essential oil benefits the respiratory system as it provides relief from respiratory issues like bronchitis and congestion of the respiratory tract. It helps in loosening the mucous and in eliminating phlegm. The anti-inflammatory properties of this oil helps in reducing inflammation of the respiratory system and its antiseptic properties help in eliminating infections affecting the system.
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Frankincense oil for uterine health
Frankincense oil is considered good for uterine health. It helps in normalizing menstruation and also in relieving problems related to menstruation such as cramps and aches. It regulates the production of the hormone estrogen and lowers the chances of cysts and tumors in the uterus.
Frankincense oil has diuretic properties
Frankincense oil is a safe and natural diuretic that promotes frequent urination and prevents water retention in the body. This not only helps in lowering blood pressure but also helps in removing water weight, excess fats, sodium, and other toxic wastes from your body.
Frankincense oil improves digestive health
Frankincense oil has been found to support the digestive system in a safe and natural way. It improves digestion by increasing the secretion and release of digestive juices such as bile and gastric juices. It also stimulates peristaltic motion and ensures that the food you eat moves easily through the intestines. By promoting normal bowel movements, frankincense oil prevents digestive disorders like constipation. It has strong carminative properties and helps in preventing the buildup of excessive gas in the body. This elimination of excess gas from the intestines provides relief from problems such as stomach aches, indigestion, chest pain, uneasiness, and many other associated conditions.
Frankincense is considered to be worthy of kings and this substance has been highly valued for centuries because of its soothing aroma and healing properties. It is a great remedy for several common ailments and therefore makes a useful addition to your medicine cabinet.Image Credits: Flickr - Maria, Flickr - Dave Harris