Frankincense Essential Oil

by Socha on February 3, 2012


frankincense tree

This comes from a small shrubby tree, which originated in North Africa. It is also referred to as Oilbanum. The name Frankincense means “real incense”.

Frankincense has a biblical background and significance, being one of the gifts offered to the baby Jesus, according to the gospel of Matthew.

It was used by the ancient Egyptians for many purposes. They ground the charred resin into a powder called kohl and used it to make the distinctive black eyeliner seen in Egyptian art.  It was also said to be used to help the transition between spiritual lives and was used in embalming, due to its excellent toning effect on the skin.

Frankincense resin is tapped from the trees when they are around 8 to 10 years old and it done 2 or 3 times a year, with the best resin “tears” produced by the final tap.  The trees have the ability to grow in environments which are so unforgiving, that they sometimes grow directly out of solid rock! The dry resin is used for incense and the essential oil is made by steam distillation.

It is characterised by its fresh citrus like scent with lemon tones and a woody spicy undertone. It is classified as a base note oil.

Frankincense has long been used for meditation as it slows and deepens breathing.

This property also makes it very valuable for treating respiratory infections, coughs and asthma. Massage on the chest and back is the best way to treat these, but burning it in an oil burner is also beneficial. When my son had croup, I put 3 or 4 drops in some hot water and left that in his room overnight to help soothe the cough, which it did very effectively.

It is also very useful for treating urine infections and has excellent skin rejuvenating properties.

For the Mind:

  • Frankincense slows and deepens breathing, so is ideal for meditation and relaxation.
  • It has a calming effect on the emotions, helping to ease anxiety and depression and clear the mind of negative thoughts.

For the Body:

  • Is an active support to the lungs, great for respiratory infections, bronchial catarrh, coughs and colds.
  • Valuable in helping asthma as it slows and deepens breathing.
  • Has an affinity for genito-urinary tract so valuable for treating infections.
  • Excellent for the skin – has a tonic effect on skin, toning facial skin and slowing down appearance of wrinkles.

Here are some ways you can use Frankincense essential oil at home:

Massage oil – Blend it with carrier oil for massage or use a few drops in the bath for:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Relaxation and meditation
  • Skin conditions
  • Asthma
  • Coughs
  • Cold and flu
  • Respiratory infections
  • Urinary infections

Like Lavender, you can also use a few drops in warm water to wash over wounds and help healing without scarring.

Oil Burner – Add a few drops to some water and burn around the house to help with:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Meditation
  • Respiratory infections
  • Cough and colds

Cream or alcohol base – add a few drops to a cream base or alcohol base to use for skin conditions, where oil is not appropriate for:

  • Skin toner
  • Skin moisturiser
  • Wound and scar healing


Some cautions to keep in mind:

As with all essential oils, I recommend that you don’t use them when pregnant without consulting a qualified practitioner.


Research news:

Unfortunately, a report I read recently was showing that the trees are in decline, due partly to over harvesting of the resin. Studies show that trees which have been tapped, produce seeds which only have a 16% chance of germinating, where untapped trees seeds germinate more than 80% of the time.

This is sad news and I will be keeping myself informed about this, as although it is one of my favourite oils to use, I wouldn’t want to carry on using it if it were to continue its decline.




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