Most ancient cultures in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East reference frankincense in both religious and medical texts. Frankincense refers to the pebbly, cloudy resin derived from one of four types of Boswellia trees, which primarily grow in the Middle East, but are also grown in Africa and India due to their lucrative nature. The resin is obtained in a similar fashion to any sap: the bark of the tree is slashed, and the resin that rises to help the slash heal seeps out. This is later collected and dried.
The name frankincense suggests its primary use as an incense—the smoke is regarded as a calming psychoactive, which is probably why it's used in so many religious ceremonies. Frankincense smoke makes a pungent smell that was probably first used to repel insect bites and cover up B.O. and decay, and later determined to prevent B.O. and even death (with some illnesses) from occurring. Studies are still being conducted to scientifically verify the claims of yore, namely among them antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic effects.
I just love the stuff! I generally buy it as a diluted essential oil, safe and affordable enough for generous use for just about anything I want.
Aside from its lemony-piney scent as a perfume, I love mixing some frankincense oil into more than a few of my DIY concoctions. I have used it as incense, perfume, headache banisher, period cramp annihilator, sore shoulder slayer, DIY deodorant backbone, DIY face oil fortifier... and I will probably keep trying it on other ailments.
After reading about its wrinkle-busting power, I started adding it to my eye sticks and was so in love with the scent as it mingled with coffee-infused castor oil that I didn’t care whether or not it worked. But the cool part is that it actually does.
Of course, one must always spot-test and check for allergies, but frankincense is regarded as really safe for personal use and has withstood the test of time; ancient Egyptians mixed the ash from incense use into their kohl eyeliner.
Here are some ways to use a 20% dilution for random insults to your health and wellness.
- Put a few drops directly on a rash, burn, or blister.
- Press a drop into the roof of your mouth and smear a little extra across the forehead when you feel a headache coming on. I know it sounds crazy, but it has worked for me many times when I remember to do it. I also like to mix with peppermint and apply to temples for this purpose.
- Apply straight to wrinkles and see what happens. (So far so good!)
- Massage into gums if they are sensitive 20 minutes before flossing.
- Mix into a DIY face oil blend for scar fading and acne bacteria killing radness.
- Rub directly onto abdomen before applying a heating pad for that oh-so-special time of the month.
- Burn or smolder the pure resin if you have it, or diffuse the oil if you are feeling down. It really does help calm down my mind when I’m stressed.
Truth be told, I never set out to be such a crunchy gal in regards to my taste for the earthy scents of patchouli, frankincense and myrrh, but I just follow my nose now and have stopped questioning it. Frankincense was one of my favorite leaps into natural healing; it has helped me get by without taking OTC meds on many occasions. I am grateful to this humble plant resin!
- Any frankin-fans out there?
- Who else is an essential oil wizard?
Photos: Darnell Scott