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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 species 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 offered 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, implying ‘top quality incense’. The word franc in old french meant ‘honorable, pure’.

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


    Frankincense is the hardened 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 intestinal tract gas (flatulence). It is in some cases applied to the skin in hand cream.

    The necessary 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 species from which individuals produce most frankincense.

    The trees begin producing resin at about 8 to ten years old. Tapping is done two to three times a year with the last taps producing the best tears due to their greater aromatic terpene, sesquiterpene and diterpene material. Normally speaking, the more opaque resins are the best quality. Cheap resin is produced in the horn of africa, which is the roman catholic church’s significant source.

    The main 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, but in the 1980s found to be a synonym of (is the same species 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. Consists of no boswellic acids.

    Other significant types:

    Boswellia occulta: horn of africa. In 2019, it was discovered that somali harvesters considered boswellia occulta to be the exact same types with boswellia carteri despite the fact that their shapes are different, and sold resins from both types as the exact same thing. However, the chemical compositions of their necessary oils are totally different.

    Recent research studies suggest that frankincense tree populations are declining, 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 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 farming is likewise a significant danger.

    Chemical structure

    Structure of β-boswellic acid, one of the main active components 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 (similar to gum arabic) 30– 36%
    • 3-acetyl-beta-boswellic acid (boswellia sacra)
    • Alpha-boswellic acid (boswellia sacra)
    • Incensole acetate, c21h34o3
    • Phellandrene
    • Among different plants in the genus boswellia, just boswellia sacra, boswellia serrata and boswellia papyrifera have been validated to contain substantial amounts of boswellic acids.


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

    The greek historian herodotus wrote in the history that frankincense was harvested from trees in southern arabia. He reported that the gum was dangerous to harvest because of winged snakes that secure the trees, which the smoke from burning storax would drive the snakes away. Pliny the senior likewise discussed 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 utilized in church services. Although named 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 a few of it being traded as far as china. The 13th-century chinese writer and customizeds inspector zhao rugua composed that: ruxiang or xunluxiang (chinese: 乳香 rǔ xiāng/ 薰陸香 xūn lù xiāng) originates 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 remotest mountains; the trunk of the tree is notched with a hatchet, upon which the resin flows out, and, when hardened, becomes incense, which is gathered and made into swellings; it is transferred 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 reduce arthritis

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

    Scientists believe that frankincense can prevent the release of leukotrienes, which are substances that can cause swelling.

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

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

    In people, frankincense extract may help in reducing symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

    In one 2018 evaluation, frankincense was regularly more effective than a placebo at lowering osteoarthritis pain and enhancing mobility.

    Nevertheless, the evaluation kept in mind that the quality of many research studies was low and more research is needed.

    In a subsequent research study, individuals took 169.33 mg of boswellia extract two times daily for 120 days. Outcomes suggested that the supplement lowered swelling, joint discomfort, and stiffness in moderate to moderate knee osteoarthritis, without major negative effects.

    Another research study discovered that oliban oil, another name for frankincense, decreased osteoarthritis pain when applied to the skin for 6 weeks. However, individuals’ capability to do day-to-day activities or take part in sports didn’t show significant enhancements.

    Combinations of frankincense with other supplements may likewise work.

    A 2018 study discovered that 350 mg curcuminoid and 150 mg boswellic acid supplement taken 3 times each day for 12 weeks was associated with decreased osteoarthritis discomfort. The combination was more effective than curcumin on its own or a placebo.

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

    For rheumatoid arthritis, researchers induced arthritis in rats then treated them with 180 mg/kg of boswellia extract. They discovered that frankincense minimized swelling but wasn’t as reliable as basic medications.

    Overall, more research is needed, particularly for rheumatoid arthritis.

    Might enhance gut function

    Frankincense’s anti-inflammatory properties might also assist your gut function correctly.

    One 2017 research study discovered that frankincense, in combination with other natural medicines, minimized abdominal pain, bloating, and even associated depression and anxiety in people with irritable bowel syndrome (ibs).

    Another study likewise showed that boswellia 250 mg tablets taken daily for 6 months improved symptoms in people with ibs.

    This resin appears particularly efficient at reducing symptoms of ulcerative colitis, one of the primary inflammatory gut conditions.

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

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

    However, most studies were little or not performed in individuals. For that reason, more research is required prior to strong conclusions can be made.

    Improves asthma

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

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

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

    In one small study, individuals who took a daily supplement of 500 mg boswellia extract in addition to their basic asthma treatment had the ability to take less inhalations of their routine medications throughout the 4-week research study.

    Furthermore, when scientists offered 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 reducing asthma symptoms.

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

    Maintains oral health

    Frankincense may assist improve oral health and prevent gum disease.

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

    In one test-tube study, frankincense extract was effective against aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans, a germs that triggers aggressive gum disease.

    In another extremely small research study, participants chewed gum containing frankincense for 5 hours, with saliva samples showing decreased varieties of microbes each hour.

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

    Nevertheless, more research study is needed on the effect of frankincense on oral health.

    May have anticancer residential or commercial properties

    Research studies reveal that frankincense might have anticancer results.

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

    A research study review notes that boswellic acids may also avoid the formation of dna in malignant cells, which could assist limit cancer development.

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

    It might also help reduce adverse effects of cancer treatment.

    In one research study of people being treated for brain tumors, 4,500 mg of boswellic acid extract taken every day helped in reducing brain edema– an accumulation of fluid in the brain– while also decreasing participants’ routine medication dose.

    More advantages

    Frankincense’s anti-inflammatory results may help in reducing signs of osteoarthritis and potentially rheumatoid arthritis. However, more high-quality studies are needed to confirm these results.

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

    Frankincense may help ease asthma signs and lower the quantity of asthma medication needed. Bigger research studies must be done to verify these outcomes.

    Frankincense extract may assist battle gum disease and preserve oral health. However, more studies are needed. [3]

    Helps reduce stress responses and unfavorable feelings

    When inhaled, frankincense oil been revealed to reduce heart rate and high blood pressure. It has anti-anxiety and depression-reducing capabilities, but unlike prescription medications, it does not have negative effects or trigger unwanted drowsiness.

    A 2019 study discovered that substances in frankincense, incensole and incensole acetate, have the ability to trigger ion channels in the brain to alleviate stress and anxiety or anxiety.

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

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

    Safeguards skin and avoids signs of aging

    Frankincense advantages consist of the capability to reinforce skin and enhance its tone, flexibility, defense reaction versus bacteria or acnes, and appearance as somebody ages. It may assist tone and lift skin, lower the appearance of scars and acne, and treat injuries.

    It might also be helpful for fading stretch marks, surgical treatment scars or marks connected with pregnancy, and healing dry or cracked skin.

    An evaluation published in the journal of standard and complementary medication indicates that frankincense oil reduces soreness and skin irritation, while also producing a more even complexion. Research studies suggest that it’s the pentacyclic triterpene (steroid-like) structure of frankincense oil that contributes to its relaxing impact on inflamed skin.

    Improves memory

    Research study suggests that frankincense oil can be used to enhance memory and finding out functions. Some animal studies even show that utilizing frankincense during pregnancy might increase the memory of a mother’s offspring.

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

    May assist balance hormones and improve fertility

    Frankincense oil benefits may include decreasing signs associated with menstruation and menopause by balancing hormone levels, although the research on this subject is limited. It has actually been used to help eliminate:.

    • Discomfort
    • Cramps
    • Irregularity
    • Headaches
    • Anxiety
    • Queasiness
    • Fatigue
    • Mood swings

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

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

    Relieves food digestion

    Frankincense assists the gastrointestinal system effectively detox and produce defecation. Research study shows that it may also help to decrease discomfort and cramping in the stomach, alleviate nausea, eliminate excess water from the abdomen that can cause bloating, and even alleviate pms-related stomach discomforts.

    It does this by speeding up the secretion of digestive enzymes, increasing urination production, unwinding the muscles of the digestion tract and helping improve blood circulation, which is required for appropriate gastrointestinal health. It’s been revealed to be helpful in decreasing signs of leaky gut syndrome, persistent colitis, ulcerative colitis, crohn’s disease and ibs.

    Serve as a sleep aid

    Frankincense utilizes include decreasing levels of stress and anxiety and chronic tension that can keep you up in the evening. It has a relaxing, grounding fragrance that can naturally assist you to fall asleep.

    This natural sleep help helps open breathing passages, allows your body to reach an ideal sleeping temperature level and can get rid of discomfort that keeps you up, which has actually been confirmed in research studies evaluating frankincense compounds. [4]

    Breathing health

    Traditional chinese medicine and the indian ayurvedic system have actually been using frankincense for quite a long time to treat bronchitis and asthma, knowing the breathing health benefits.

    Some studies have actually discovered 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 study, 70 percent of asthmatic participants showed improvement after using frankincense regularly. [5]
    The main chemical constituents of the vital oil are limonene, pinene, borneol, farnesol, phellandrene, myrcene, and other constituents. Limonene demonstrates antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-fungal homes. It is thought to lower feelings of stress and anxiety and to stimulate the body immune system. Pinene is known to reinforce and revitalize the breathing system and is reported to have diuretic homes based upon empirical evidence. Borneol contributes tonic, anesthetic, sedative and anti-spasmodic residential or commercial properties to this oil. Farnesol is the part that allows this oil to reduce the user’s indications 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 minimize the appearance of wrinkles and skin imperfections such as staining. It stimulates the development of new cells, hence when used on cuts it promotes quicker healing.

    Utilized in aromatherapy, frankincense works as an expectorant to clear the nasal passageway, promote the relief of congestion, and motivate simple breathing. It’s sweet, woody scent is sedative and enhances mood by diminishing sensations of tension and stress and anxiety while improving concentration and memory.

    Utilized medicinally, this anti-inflammatory oil is known to soothe irritated skin by reducing the feelings of redness, swelling, and itching. It helps to disinfect and tighten the pores, thereby promoting the quick recovery of cuts, injuries, and scars. It is used to eliminate flatulence, promote the development of new skin cells, and stimulate blood circulation and flow to name a few competencies.

    As shown, frankincense essential oil is deemed to have numerous therapeutic homes. The following highlights its numerous benefits and the type of activity it is believed to reveal:.


    Astringent, cytophylactic.


    Carminative, expectorant, sedative.


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

    Side-effects & & allergies of frankincense oil

    When applied to the skin: frankincense vital oil or gum extract is potentially safe. It may cause skin irritation in some individuals.

    When breathed in: frankincense essential oil is perhaps safe. There isn’t adequate reliable info to understand what the side effects might be.

    For information on the safety 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 approximately 5 weeks. But follow your doctor’s directions.

    Boswellia may trigger side effects, consisting of:.

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

    Boswellia is a natural extract, however it can still have adverse effects. It may cause digestive negative effects, such as queasiness, heartburn, and diarrhea.

    Some people may experience skin rashes when using boswellia, particularly if they use it directly to the skin.

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

    • Aspirin
    • Naproxen
    • Ibuprofen

    Boswellia might likewise disrupt the action of specific drugs, consisting of some anticoagulant medications and antiplatelet drugs. Anybody taking these drugs should talk with a doctor prior to taking boswellia. [9]

    Traditional Utilizes

    The oleoresin gum from b. Serrata has actually generally been used for its anti-inflammatory effects in conditions such as asthma, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome. It has likewise been used for the management of diabetes, urinary conditions, skin-related ailments, and renal impairment. Boswellic acids have demonstrated immunomodulatory, antiproliferative, cytotoxic, and antimicrobial impacts; nevertheless, there are no appropriate medical 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 (including 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 dosage) 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 patients with knee osteoarthritis. 2 pills of articulin-f (contains b. Serrata, withania somnifera, curcuma longa, zinc complex) 3 times daily; or supplementation with casperome (150 mg of boswellic acids) 3 times daily has 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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