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Frankincense (likewise 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 (‘ top 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 readily available in numerous grades, which depend upon 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, indicating ‘high-quality incense’. The word franc in old french indicated ‘honorable, pure’.

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


Frankincense is the solidified gum-like product (resin) that comes from cuts made in the trunk of the boswellia carteri tree. Individuals use it to make medicine.

Frankincense is utilized for colic and intestinal tract gas (flatulence). It is often applied to the skin in hand cream.

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


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

The trees start producing resin at about 8 to ten years old. Tapping is done 2 to 3 times a year with the final taps producing the very best tears due to their greater fragrant terpene, sesquiterpene and diterpene content. Usually speaking, the more nontransparent resins are the very best quality. Inexpensive 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 thought about 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. Includes no boswellic acids.

Other significant types:

Boswellia occulta: horn of africa. In 2019, it was discovered that somali harvesters thought about boswellia occulta to be the exact same types with boswellia carteri even though their shapes are different, and sold resins from both species as the exact same thing. Nevertheless, the chemical structures of their vital oils are completely different.

Recent research studies indicate that frankincense tree populations are decreasing, partly due to over-exploitation. Greatly tapped trees produce seeds that sprout at only 16% while seeds of trees that had not been tapped germinate at more than 80%. In addition, burning, grazing, and attacks by the longhorn beetle have actually decreased the tree population. Conversion (cleaning) of frankincense woodlands to agriculture is likewise a significant risk.

Chemical structure

Structure of β-boswellic acid, among the main active elements of frankincense.

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

  • Acid resin (6%), soluble in alcohol and having the formula c20h32o4
  • Gum (similar 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, only boswellia sacra, boswellia serrata and boswellia papyrifera have been validated to consist of substantial quantities 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 during the silk road era.

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

Frankincense was reestablished to western europe by frankish crusaders, [citation required] and other western europeans on their journeys to the eastern roman empire where it was typically used in church services. Although named frankincense, the name describes 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 author 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 furthest mountains; the trunk of the tree is notched with a hatchet, upon which the resin flows out, and, when solidified, turns into incense, which is gathered and made into lumps; it is transferred on elephants to the dashi ports, then on ship to sanfoqi; which is why it was called an item of sanfoqi.

Advantages of frankincense oil

May lower arthritis

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

Researchers think that frankincense can prevent the release of leukotrienes, which are substances that can trigger inflammation.

Terpenes, consisting of boswellic acid, seem the strongest anti-inflammatory compounds in frankincense.

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

In human beings, frankincense extract may help reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

In one 2018 evaluation, frankincense was consistently more reliable than a placebo at decreasing osteoarthritis pain and improving mobility.

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

In a subsequent study, participants took 169.33 mg of boswellia extract two times daily for 120 days. Outcomes showed that the supplement reduced swelling, joint pain, and tightness in mild to moderate knee osteoarthritis, without serious 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’ ability to do day-to-day activities or take part in sports didn’t reveal considerable improvements.

Mixes of frankincense with other supplements might also work.

A 2018 study found that 350 mg curcuminoid and 150 mg boswellic acid supplement taken 3 times per day for 12 weeks was connected with lowered osteoarthritis discomfort. The mix was more effective than curcumin on its own or a placebo.

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

For rheumatoid arthritis, scientists caused arthritis in rats then treated them with 180 mg/kg of boswellia extract. They found that frankincense reduced inflammation however wasn’t as effective as basic medications.

In general, more research study is required, particularly for rheumatoid arthritis.

Might enhance gut function

Frankincense’s anti-inflammatory properties may also assist your gut function properly.

One 2017 research study discovered that frankincense, in mix with other herbal medicines, lowered stomach discomfort, bloating, and even associated anxiety and stress and anxiety in people with irritable bowel syndrome (ibs).

Another study also showed that boswellia 250 mg tablets taken daily for 6 months enhanced signs in people with ibs.

This resin appears especially effective at decreasing symptoms of ulcerative colitis, one of the main inflammatory gut conditions.

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

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

However, most studies were little or not carried out in people. Therefore, more research is needed before strong conclusions can be made.

Enhances asthma

Standard medicine has actually utilized frankincense to treat bronchitis and asthma for centuries.

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

Frankincense may also impact th2 cytokines, which can trigger swelling and mucous overproduction in individuals 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 fewer inhalations of their routine medications during the 4-week research study.

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

In another study, asthma signs in mice improved with boswellic acid, a part of frankincense resin.

Maintains oral health

Frankincense may assist improve oral health and avoid gum disease.

The boswellic acids it offers appear to have strong antibacterial homes, which may assist avoid and treat oral infections.

In one test-tube research study, frankincense extract worked versus aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans, a bacteria that triggers aggressive gum illness.

In another really small research study, participants chewed gum including frankincense for 5 hours, with saliva samples showing reduced numbers 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 residential or commercial properties

Research studies show that frankincense might have anticancer effects.

Test-tube studies recommend that the boswellic acids it contains might avoid cancer cells from spreading.

A research study evaluation keeps in mind that boswellic acids might likewise prevent the development of dna in cancerous cells, which might assist restrict cancer development.

Up until now, test-tube research studies recommend that frankincense may battle breast, prostate, pancreatic, skin, and colon cancer cells.

It may also help in reducing negative effects of cancer treatment.

In one research study of individuals being treated for brain growths, 4,500 mg of boswellic acid extract taken every day helped in reducing brain edema– a build-up of fluid in the brain– while also lowering participants’ regular medication dose.

More advantages

Frankincense’s anti-inflammatory results might help in reducing symptoms of osteoarthritis and perhaps rheumatoid arthritis. However, more top quality research studies are needed to confirm these effects.

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

Frankincense may help relieve asthma symptoms and lower the quantity of asthma medication needed. Larger studies should be done to confirm these results.

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

Helps reduce stress reactions and negative feelings

When breathed in, frankincense oil been revealed to decrease heart rate and high blood pressure. It has anti-anxiety and depression-reducing capabilities, 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 minimize anxiety or anxiety.

In a study including mice, burning boswellia resin as incense had antidepressive results: “incensole acetate, an incense element, generates psychoactivity by triggering trpv3 channels in the brain.”.

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

Safeguards skin and avoids signs of aging

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

It might likewise be helpful for fading stretch marks, surgery scars or marks connected with pregnancy, and recovery dry or split skin.

An evaluation released in the journal of traditional and complementary medication indicates that frankincense oil reduces inflammation and skin inflammation, while also producing a more even complexion. Studies recommend that it’s the pentacyclic triterpene (steroid-like) structure of frankincense oil that adds to its calming effect on irritated skin.

Improves memory

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

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

Might assist stabilize hormonal agents and enhance fertility

Frankincense oil advantages may include lowering signs associated with menstruation and menopause by stabilizing hormonal agent levels, although the research study on this subject is limited. It has actually been used to assist ease:.

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

Frankincense oil might also aid with managing estrogen production and might minimize the risk of growth or cyst development in premenopausal women.

Animal research studies have revealed that frankincense oil can be utilized as a fertility-promoting agent, which might be because of the oil’s chemical structure acting similarly to that of steroids. When frankincense was used on rats internally, it increased fertility and the variety of implantations and feasible fetuses, which suggests that the oil might possibly increase sperm motility and density.

Relieves digestion

Frankincense helps the digestion system effectively detox and produce defecation. Research suggests that it might likewise help to lower pain and cramping in the stomach, relieve queasiness, eliminate excess water from the abdomen that can cause bloating, and even relieve pms-related stomach discomforts.

It does this by accelerating the secretion of digestive enzymes, increasing urination production, unwinding the muscles of the digestive system and helping enhance circulation, which is required for proper digestion health. It’s been revealed to be helpful in lowering symptoms of dripping gut syndrome, persistent colitis, ulcerative colitis, crohn’s disease and ibs.

Function as a sleep help

Frankincense uses include lowering levels of anxiety and persistent stress 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 helps open breathing passages, allows your body to reach a perfect sleeping temperature and can eliminate pain that keeps you up, which has actually been validated in research studies evaluating frankincense substances. [4]

Breathing health

Traditional chinese medication and the indian ayurvedic system have been utilizing frankincense for rather a long time to treat bronchitis and asthma, understanding the breathing health advantages.

Some studies have actually found frankincense may help in reducing the opportunity of an asthma attack and asthmatic-related symptoms, such as shortness of breath. According to one six-week research study, 70 percent of asthmatic individuals showed improvement after using frankincense regularly. [5]
The main chemical constituents of the essential oil are limonene, pinene, borneol, farnesol, phellandrene, myrcene, and other constituents. Limonene shows antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-fungal residential or commercial properties. It is believed to reduce sensations of stress and anxiety and to promote the body immune system. Pinene is understood to enhance and rejuvenate the respiratory system and is reported to have diuretic properties based upon empirical evidence. Borneol contributes tonic, anesthetic, sedative and anti-spasmodic residential or commercial properties to this oil. Farnesol is the component that allows this oil to minimize the user’s signs of aging by smoothing the appearance of wrinkles and increasing skin’s flexibility.

Used 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, thus when utilized on cuts it promotes much faster recovery.

Used in aromatherapy, frankincense works as an expectorant to clear the nasal passageway, promote the relief of blockage, and motivate simple breathing. It’s sweet, woody scent is sedative and improves state of mind by reducing feelings of stress and stress and anxiety while enhancing concentration and memory.

Used medicinally, this anti-inflammatory oil is understood to relieve swollen skin by minimizing the experiences of soreness, swelling, and itching. It assists to disinfect and tighten up the pores, thereby promoting the rapid recovery of cuts, injuries, and scars. It is used to alleviate flatulence, stimulate the growth of new skin cells, and stimulate blood circulation and flow among other proficiencies.

As highlighted, frankincense important oil is reputed to have many restorative properties. The following highlights its lots of benefits and the type of activity it is thought to show:.


Astringent, cytophylactic.


Carminative, expectorant, sedative.


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

Side-effects & allergies of frankincense oil

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

When inhaled: frankincense essential oil is potentially safe. There isn’t sufficient trusted details to understand what the negative effects might be.

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


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

Boswellia might trigger negative effects, including:.

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Heartburn
  • Heartburn
  • Allergies [8]

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

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

Boswellia appears to act as an anti-inflammatory. As a result, it may communicate with similar drugs, such as nsaids. It is necessary to speak with a medical professional prior to taking boswellia alongside other medications, such as:.

  • Aspirin
  • Naproxen
  • Ibuprofen

Boswellia may also hinder the action of particular drugs, including some anticoagulant medications and antiplatelet drugs. Anyone taking these drugs need to speak with a physician before taking boswellia. [9]

Standard Utilizes

The oleoresin gum from b. Serrata has actually generally 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 used for the management of diabetes, urinary conditions, skin-related ailments, and renal problems. Boswellic acids have shown immunomodulatory, antiproliferative, cytotoxic, and antimicrobial impacts; nevertheless, there are no adequate medical trials to support any of the usages.


Administration with high-fat foods may enhance 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 capsules (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 (containing 60% boswellic acids) 3 times daily was used in a clinical trial of clients with knee osteoarthritis. 2 capsules of articulin-f (includes b. Serrata, withania somnifera, curcuma longa, zinc complex) 3 times daily; or supplementation 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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