Frankincense (likewise called olibanum) is a fragrant resin utilized in incense and perfumes, gotten from trees of the genus boswellia in the family burseraceae. The word is from old french franc encens (‘ top quality incense’).

There are several 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 readily available in various 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 ‘premium incense’. The word franc in old french meant ‘honorable, pure’.

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


Frankincense is the hardened gum-like product (resin) that originates from cuts made in the trunk of the boswellia carteri tree. People utilize it to make medicine.

Frankincense is utilized for colic and digestive gas (flatulence). It is often 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 types from which individuals produce most frankincense.

The trees start producing resin at about eight to ten years old. Tapping is done two to three times a year with the final taps producing the best tears due to their greater fragrant terpene, sesquiterpene and diterpene content. Typically speaking, the more nontransparent resins are the very best quality. Low-cost resin is produced in the horn of africa, which is the roman catholic church’s major source.

The main species 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 species, 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 fragrance 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 thought about boswellia occulta to be the very same types with boswellia carteri even though their shapes are different, and sold resins from both types as the same thing. Nevertheless, the chemical structures of their important oils are totally different.

Recent research studies suggest that frankincense tree populations are declining, partially due to over-exploitation. Greatly tapped trees produce seeds that germinate at just 16% while seeds of trees that had not been tapped sprout at more than 80%. In addition, burning, grazing, and attacks by the longhorn beetle have reduced the tree population. Conversion (clearing) of frankincense forests to agriculture is likewise a major danger.

Chemical composition

Structure of β-boswellic acid, one of the main active parts of frankincense.

These are a few 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 actually been validated to contain considerable quantities of boswellic acids.


Frankincense has actually been traded on the arabian peninsula for more than 5,000 years. Frankincense was also traded from the horn of africa during 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 threatened to harvest because of winged snakes that guard the trees, which the smoke from burning storax would drive the snakes away. Pliny the older also pointed out frankincense in his naturalis historia.

Frankincense was reintroduced 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 some of it being traded as far as china. The 13th-century chinese author and custom-mades inspector zhao rugua wrote 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 solidified, becomes incense, which is gathered and made into lumps; it is carried 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 results that might help reduce joint swelling triggered by arthritis.

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

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

In one 2014 research study, both oral and topical boswellic acid lowered cartilage loss and joint lining swelling in osteoarthritis in mice.

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

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

However, the review kept in mind that the quality of a lot of research studies was low and more research study is required.

In a subsequent research study, participants took 169.33 mg of boswellia extract twice daily for 120 days. Outcomes indicated that the supplement lowered swelling, joint pain, and stiffness in moderate to moderate knee osteoarthritis, without serious side effects.

Another study discovered that oliban oil, another name for frankincense, decreased osteoarthritis pain when applied to the skin for 6 weeks. Nevertheless, participants’ 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 research study found that 350 mg curcuminoid and 150 mg boswellic acid supplement taken 3 times per day for 12 weeks was associated with lowered osteoarthritis pain. The mix was more reliable than curcumin by itself 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 discomfort and function than taking glucosamine sulfate, a standard supplement for osteoarthritis).

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

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

May improve gut function

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

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

Another study also suggested that boswellia 250 mg tablets taken daily for 6 months improved signs in individuals with ibs.

This resin appears particularly reliable at lowering symptoms of ulcerative colitis, among the main inflammatory gut conditions.

A study discovered that boswellia extract taken daily for 4 weeks enhanced symptoms in people with moderate ulcerative colitis in remission.

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

Nevertheless, most studies were little or not performed in people. For that reason, more research is needed prior to strong conclusions can be made.

Improves asthma

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

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

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

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

In addition, when researchers offered people 200 mg of a supplement made from frankincense and the south asian fruit bael (aegle marmelos), they found that the supplement was more reliable than a placebo at lowering asthma symptoms.

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

Maintains oral health

Frankincense might help enhance oral health and avoid gum disease.

The boswellic acids it supplies appear to have strong anti-bacterial residential or commercial properties, which might assist avoid and treat oral infections.

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

In another really small study, participants chewed gum consisting of frankincense for 5 hours, with saliva samples indicating lowered varieties of microorganisms each hour.

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

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

May have anticancer homes

Studies reveal that frankincense might have anticancer effects.

Test-tube research studies suggest that the boswellic acids it contains might prevent cancer cells from spreading.

A research review notes that boswellic acids may also prevent the formation of dna in malignant cells, which could help restrict cancer growth.

So far, test-tube studies recommend that frankincense might battle breast, prostate, pancreatic, skin, and colon cancer cells.

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

In one research study of people being dealt with for brain tumors, 4,500 mg of boswellic acid extract taken every day helped reduce brain edema– a build-up of fluid in the brain– while also reducing participants’ regular medication dosage.

More benefits

Frankincense’s anti-inflammatory results may help reduce signs of osteoarthritis and possibly rheumatoid arthritis. However, more top quality research studies are required to validate these results.

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

Frankincense may help relieve asthma signs and decrease the amount of asthma medication required. Larger studies should be done to verify these outcomes.

Frankincense extract might help battle gum illness and maintain oral health. Nevertheless, more research studies are required. [3]

Helps reduce stress reactions and unfavorable feelings

When inhaled, frankincense oil been shown to minimize heart rate and hypertension. It has anti-anxiety and depression-reducing capabilities, but unlike prescription medications, it does not have negative side effects or trigger undesirable drowsiness.

A 2019 study found that substances in frankincense, incensole and incensole acetate, have the capability to activate ion channels in the brain to alleviate stress and anxiety or anxiety.

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

Scientists suggest that this channel in the brain is linked in the understanding of heat in the skin.

Protects skin and prevents indications of aging

Frankincense advantages include the capability to reinforce skin and enhance its tone, elasticity, defense reaction versus bacteria or acnes, and look as somebody ages. It might help tone and lift skin, minimize the appearance of scars and acne, and treat wounds.

It might likewise be advantageous for fading stretch marks, surgical treatment scars or marks associated with pregnancy, and recovery dry or broken skin.

A review published in the journal of conventional and complementary medicine indicates that frankincense oil lowers soreness and skin irritation, while also producing a more even complexion. Research studies recommend that it’s the pentacyclic triterpene (steroid-like) structure of frankincense oil that adds to its calming impact on irritated skin.

Improves memory

Research study suggests that frankincense oil can be utilized to improve memory and discovering functions. Some animal research studies even reveal that utilizing frankincense during pregnancy may 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 significant increase in the power of learning, short-term memory and long-lasting memory of their offspring.

May help stabilize hormones and improve fertility

Frankincense oil advantages might include reducing signs connected with menstruation and menopause by stabilizing hormone levels, although the research on this topic is limited. It has been utilized to assist ease:.

  • Pain
  • Cramps
  • Irregularity
  • Headaches
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Tiredness
  • State of mind swings

Frankincense oil might also aid with managing estrogen production and might lower the danger of growth or cyst advancement in premenopausal ladies.

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

Eases food digestion

Frankincense helps the gastrointestinal system properly detox and produce bowel movements. Research study shows that it might likewise help to reduce discomfort and cramping in the stomach, ease queasiness, flush out excess water from the abdominal area that can cause bloating, and even eliminate pms-related stomach pains.

It does this by accelerating the secretion of gastrointestinal enzymes, increasing urination production, relaxing the muscles of the gastrointestinal tract and helping enhance circulation, which is needed for proper gastrointestinal health. It’s been shown to be advantageous in minimizing signs of leaking gut syndrome, chronic colitis, ulcerative colitis, crohn’s illness and ibs.

Function as a sleep aid

Frankincense uses consist of decreasing levels of anxiety and persistent tension that can keep you up at night. It has a calming, grounding scent that can naturally assist you to go to sleep.

This natural sleep aid assists open breathing passages, allows your body to reach an ideal sleeping temperature and can eliminate discomfort that keeps you up, which has been validated in research studies evaluating frankincense substances. [4]

Respiratory health

Traditional chinese medication and the indian ayurvedic system have actually been utilizing frankincense for quite some time to treat bronchitis and asthma, knowing the breathing health benefits.

Some research studies have found frankincense might 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 utilizing frankincense routinely. [5]
The primary chemical constituents of the necessary oil are limonene, pinene, borneol, farnesol, phellandrene, myrcene, and other constituents. Limonene demonstrates antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-fungal residential or commercial properties. It is believed to reduce feelings of anxiety and to promote the immune system. Pinene is known to enhance and invigorate 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 component that permits this oil to reduce the user’s signs of aging by smoothing the look of wrinkles and increasing skin’s elasticity.

Utilized topically and cosmetically, its astringent and cytophylactic qualities assist frankincense oil to minimize the look of wrinkles and skin imperfections such as staining. It stimulates the growth of brand-new cells, thus when used on cuts it promotes quicker recovery.

Utilized in aromatherapy, frankincense works as an expectorant to clear the nasal passage, promote the relief of congestion, and encourage easy breathing. It’s sweet, woody scent is sedative and improves mood by diminishing feelings of tension and anxiety while improving concentration and memory.

Used medicinally, this anti-inflammatory oil is known to relieve inflamed skin by minimizing the sensations of soreness, swelling, and itching. It assists to decontaminate and tighten up the pores, thus promoting the fast recovery of cuts, wounds, and scars. It is used to eliminate flatulence, promote the growth of brand-new skin cells, and promote blood circulation and circulation among other proficiencies.

As illustrated, frankincense important oil is deemed to have numerous restorative properties. The following highlights its numerous advantages and the type of activity it is believed to show:.


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 necessary oil or gum extract is possibly safe. It might trigger skin irritation in some people.

When inhaled: frankincense necessary oil is possibly safe. There isn’t enough trustworthy information to know what the side effects might be.

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


Boswellia might be safe when taken by mouth for approximately six months. It could be safe when applied to the skin for up to five weeks. But follow your healthcare provider’s directions.

Boswellia might trigger negative effects, including:.

  • Queasiness
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Acid reflux
  • Heartburn
  • Allergic reactions [8]

Boswellia is a natural extract, but it can still have side effects. It may trigger digestive side effects, such as queasiness, acid reflux, and diarrhea.

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

Boswellia appears to function as an anti-inflammatory. As a result, it might interact with similar drugs, such as nsaids. It is essential to talk with a physician prior to taking boswellia together with 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 must speak to a physician prior to taking boswellia. [9]

Standard Utilizes

The oleoresin gum from b. Serrata has generally been utilized for its anti-inflammatory results in conditions such as asthma, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome. It has likewise been utilized for the management of diabetes, urinary conditions, skin-related conditions, and kidney problems. Boswellic acids have shown immunomodulatory, antiproliferative, cytotoxic, and antimicrobial impacts; nevertheless, there are no appropriate scientific trials to support any of the uses.


Administration with high-fat foods might enhance 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 capsules (s-compound), or 400 mg 3 times daily of an extract (standardized to 37.5% boswellic acids per dose) was used. 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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