Frankincense has been a central player in healing remedies and rituals for thousands of years—it was coveted by the Romans, Greeks, Egyptians, and Israelites (famously right up there with myrrh and gold in the eyes of the Three Wise Men) and was (and is) regularly used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. Frankincense itself is a milky white gum resin, collected from careful incisions made in a specific variety of trees in the genus Boswelia, which grow in many regions of Northern Africa and The Middle East. The resin contains an essential oil with medicinally active terpenoids called boswellic acid.
Boswellic acid: It’s not the sexiest name we’ve ever heard, but boy does it perform at reducing inflammation. In fact, it’s established as an essential medicinal substance in modern natural medicine. Studies show that boswellic acid exerts an anti-inflammatory action similar to nonsteroidal and anti-inflammatory drugs and inhibits certain pro-inflammatory mediators in the body. Frankincense is also touted as one of the great lymphatic drainers—especially when it comes to breast lymphatics. It’s cicatrizant (which means it speeds wound healing through the formation of scar tissue), it tones and rejuvenates aging skin, it helps to clear acne, and it minimizes the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and scars. Unsurprisingly, it’s also been shown to aid in the healing of wounds. Combined with myrrh, frankincense becomes especially powerful, and has displayed anti-microbial qualities that are particularly effective when used against pathogens.
Frankincense carries many intrinsic intellectual powers—which is no wonder, considering its popularity in traditional religious and spiritual ceremonies. It has a relentless insistence on independence, tolerance for adversity, and encourages freedom of expression and clarity. It has also been found to contain an aphrodisiacal substance similar to sexual hormones. A report by the Academy of Science in Leipzig, Germany found that, when burned, certain compounds within frankincense are converted to tetrahydrocannabinol (aka THC). Intrigued? We thought so.