Frankincense (Boswellia carterii)

Frankincense header

…and when they had opened their treasures,
they presented unto him gifts; gold and frankincense and myrrh.
Matthew 2:10

3 wise men

Frankincense is an oil that is often associated with Christmas as she is  one of the gifts given by the three Magi to the baby Jesus. She also has had a long tradition of being used in religious ceremonies.

Family: Burseraceae

Synonyms: Olibanum

Aroma: Fresh, slightly camphorous

Colour: Pale to greenish yellow

Frankincense treePlant: Frankincense is a small tree that grows to a height of  7 metres. It has abundant narrow leaves and white or pale pink flowers.

Main Growing Areas: Somalia, southern Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman and Northern India

Major Constituents: a-pinene, sabinene, limonene, myrcene, octanol, ocytl acetate

Interesting snippets: Frankincense has been burnt in temples and used in religious ceremonies for centuries and continues to be used even today for that purpose.

The Egyptians believed Frankincense was the sweat of the Gods, which had fallen to earth.
The earliest recorded use of Frankincense was found in an inscription on the tomb of Hatshepsut, a 15th century BC Egyptian queen.
Kohl, the eyeliner used in ancient Egypt was a powder made from ground charred Frankincense resin.

The name Frankincense is derived from the Old French franc meaning free, pure or abundant, and the Latin incensum meaning to kindle or to smoke.

It is theorised that the “burning bush” in the bible was a Frankincense tree whose evaporating essential oil ignited.

Part of Plant used / Extraction: Resin. The resin is usually harvested in spring Frankincense resin and autumn. The bark is usually scraped or chipped away to expose a milky white resin, which is allowed to dry in the sun for 2 weeks or more. During this time the resin  forms yellowish tears, which are scraped off and collected in baskets and then shipped to France to be steam distilled. The tears contain 56% resin, 30% gum and 4-8% essential oil.

Therapeutic actions: Very good for respiratory conditions including bronchitis, laryngitis, coughs and congestion.
Skin care for mature, dry and sensitive skin. Excellent for wound healing.

Emotional and Spiritual: Slows down breathing and induces feelings of calm. Ideal for meditation as she helps to still the mind and cease mental chatter allowing the spirit to soar.
Helps restore a sense of equilibrium when feeling anxious or confused.

Gabriel Mojay writes that whenever you have allowed yourself to be weighed down by the past, or any form of over attachment frankincense can help you break free by encouraging tranquillity, insight and spiritual self discipline allowing the ego Self and transpersonal Self to work in unison.

Robbi Zeck writes that Frankincense cleanses the aura, is finely attuned to the subtle energies and paves the way to the higher self. It will cultivate positive inner guidance so that your true self can be seen.

Valerie Ann Worwood writes that in cases of spiritual shock or loss, when the spirit can step out of the body, even for a brief moment, Frankincense can gently ease us back into our earthly home.

Aromatherapy Insight Card:

Frankincense Aromatherapy Insight card

The oil for protecting your space and you from worry overwhelm and anything or anyone that drains your energy. Frankincense links your past with your future, which relates to how you perceive and handle the present. You can be the wise person that you are by protecting yourself from life’s negative experiences. Feel protected and free.

Fragrant Change: I feel protected, calm and at peace with myself.

Frankincense Fragrant Change Healing card

Contemplations for the Soul:

Are you obsessing over something that happened in the past?
Are you worried about the future and something that may never happen?
Have you lost touch with your spiritual self?
Are you feeling overwhelmed, worried, stressed or anxious and need to put things in perspective?
Are you procrastinating because the outcome is uncertain?
Time to get clear and still your mind so that your inner guidance can be heard.
Sit quietly, slow your breathing and concentrate on something that brings you a sense of peace.
Slow your breathing even more.
Allow your inner guidance the chance to give you an answer.

Safety: Non-irritating, non-sensitising.

Sources: Battaglia S, The Complete Guide To Aromatherapy. The Perfect Potion, Australia (1995)
Hodges C. Contemplations for the Soul (2016)
Hodges C, Fragrant Change Healing Cards (2015)
Kerr, J, Frankincense Essential Oil Profile. Aromatherapy Today, Vol.2 (1997)
Jefferies J, Osborn. K, Aromatherapy Insight Cards. Living Energy, Aust. (2nd Ed. 2005)
Mojay G, Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit. Hodder and Stoughton (1996)
Price L, Frankincense. The Aromatherapist, Vol 4, No 4 (1997)
Worwood, V.A, The Fragrant Heavens. Doubleday Publishing UK (1999)
Zeck R, The Blossoming Heart. Aroma Tours (2004)