Boswellia carteri

“The words which express our faith and piety are not definite; yet they are significant and fragrant like frankincense to superior natures.

Henry David Thoreau

Family: Burseraceae
Parts used: Gum
Aroma: Resinous, balsamic, camphoraceous, subtle green-lemon note
Properties: analgesic, anti-bacterial, anticatarrhal, antidepressive, anti-infectious, astringent, calmative, carminative, cicatrisant, expectorant, immune tonic, vulnerary

Prepared from the resin of various boswellia species by steam distillation method, Ffrankincense essential oilrankincense essential oil, also known as olibanum, is a part of the traditional medicinal systems of Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and in certain other folklore remedies.
The origin of the term ‘Frankincense’ derives from the Old French word ‘franc’ – meaning ‘pure’ or ‘free’, and the Latin ‘incensium’‘to smoke’. Frankincense has played an important role in the religious and domestic lives of Ancient Egypt, Persian, Hebrew, Greek and Roman civilizations.

“Until the day breaks and the shadows flee away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh and to the hill of frankincense”. (The Song of Solomon)

Strengthens the immune system.

Frankincense essential oil serves as an antiseptic, anti-infectious and immune stimulant making it a wonderful remedy strengthening immune system. Mikhaeil ‘et al’ (2002) conducted a study on the chemistry and immunomodulatory activity of Frankincense oil in which Frankincense oil exhibited immuno-stimulant activity in addition to its anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties. As stated by researchers of this study, Frankincense essential oil could be used for several auto-immune disorders

Fights against cancerous cells.Frankincense essential oil

Ongoing research on Frankincense essential oil indicates and leads to the conclusion that it has anti-tumour and anti-cancer properties. Ni ‘et al’ (2012) came to the conclusion that Frankincense essential oil prepared from hydrodistillation of Boswellia sacra gum resins induces human pancreatic cancer cell death in cultures. It also reverses tumour growth in a heterotopic xenograft mouse tumor model. Grieve (1931) as cited by Battaglia (2003) explains that Frankincense oil was recommended by Avicenna for tumours.

Pacifies digestive system.

Frankincense essential oil acts as an effective carminative and analgesic and helping in the prevention and expulsion of gas formation in the stomach and relieving abdominal pain.

(Mix 2 drops of Frankincense oil with 5 ml at 2% dilution with carrier oil and massage this blend on the abdomen for relieving flatulence, constipation and other gastro-intestinal problems including stomach pain, feelings of discomfort in abdominal area.)

Pampers your skin health.

Further properties of frankincense oils are discussed by Battaglia (2003) including antiseptic, astringent, vulnerary, and cicatrisant. Davis (2005) explains that Frankincense essential oil is a perfect rescuer in cases of skin problems such as dry skin and wrinkles. This oil works on wrinkles and other aging symptoms with the ability to shrink body tissues bringing it back to the original shape and assisting in tightening the skin due to its tonic effect. Additionally, it helps in the formation of scar tissue, fading the after marks of acne, pimples, boils, pox, stretch marks due to pregnancy and childbirth due to its cicatricant and vulnerary properties.  

Helps treat womanly problems.

Battaglia (2003) explains that Frankincense oil acts as an emmenagogue that stimulates the flow of blood in the pelvic area and the uterus, thus regulating the menstrual cycle and functions of the female reproductive system. Davis (2007) suggests Frankincense can be helpful in abnormally heave periods when used in baths and self-massage. Care should be taken in pregnancy and it is advisable to use Frankincense oil in low dilutions.

(Blend 2 drops of Frankincense essential oil with 5ml of Oenothera biennis carrier oil and massage it slowly on lower abdomen in clockwise direction for relieving problems associated with menstruation like abdominal pain. (It would also have a positive impact on restlessness and mood swings.)

Relieves respiratory illnesses.

Battaglia (2003) explains that Frankincense is helpful with lung problems. This oil has antiseptic, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-catarrhal and expectorant properties. It can protect one from infectious microbes and helps to reduce phlegm deposits in the respiratory tract and inflammation in the nasal and respiratory passages. In addition, the oil is useful for asthma and allergy symptoms such as catarrh and congestion among others. The heat of steam inhalations may have an adverse effect in asthma; therefore massage is the best form of treatment, concentrating on strokes that open the chest, as this area is often constricted in asthmatics.

Helps in fighting against arthritis.

Modern research shows that Frankincense oil contains boswellic acid and in moderate doses contains anti-inflammatory properties, therefore making it helpful in the treatment of rheumatism. Leung and Foster (1996) explain that pharmacology and clinical studies have identified frankincense oils possess anti-inflammatory and anti-rheumatic properties. Further research confirms that statement. Sengupta ‘et al’ (2008) states that Frankincense oil possesses potent anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic and analgesic effect that can reduce pain and improve physical functioning significantly in Osteoarthritis by controlling inflammatory responses, and improving joint health.

(Mix 2 drops of Boswellia carteri oil with 1 drops of Zingiber officinalis in 5 ml of Sesamum indicum oil and massage it gently on the painful area)

Alleviates stress and anxiety, eases depression.

Frankincense oil is an effective anti-depressant, and sedative remedy. According to Mojay (1999) the main elements of frankincense oil are Earth and Metal Elements. The organs associated with the Earth element are the spleen, pancreas, and stomach. The spleen houses the Intellect (Yi) responsible for mind activities -thinking, concentrating, studying and memorizing. Any imbalances in Earth element result in overthinking, lack of clarity and depressive feelings. Frankincense oil can settle and clarify the Intellect (Yi), alleviate worry and mental confusion.
The organs of Metal element are Lungs and Large intestine. Metal Element allows us to efficiently let go of what is not necessary and store only what is needed. Lungs provide the residence of the Bodily Soul (P’o) which when affected by feelings of regret, remorse, and sense of loss can result in breathing difficulties, skin eruptions, and digestive disorders.

According to Mojay (1999) Frankincense oil as a traditional Funeral Herb can help to express grief and come to terms with loss. Worwood (1995) placed Frankincense on a list of essential oils that help relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression, when facing death, experiencing fear and mental exhaustion among others.

(Add 2 drops of Frankincense oil in vaporizer, burner or diffuser to promote spiritual enhancement that balances the mind, body and soul to experience eternal happiness.)

Tutorial on how to burn Frankincense resin

Safety data

According to Battaglia (2003), Frankincense oil has been reported to be non-toxic, non-irritant and non-sensitizing. He suggests using Frankincense oil as a topical application in

massage, compress, bath, and general skin care in creams and lotions. Direct inhalation, diffuser, oil vaporiser and steam inhalation are recommended ways of inhalation.



Alluri, K. Dey, D. Golakoti, T. Mishra, Raychaudhuri, S. Sarma, K. Satish, A.  Sengupta, K. (2008) A double blind, randomized, placebo controlled study of the efficacy and safety of 5-Loxin® for treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee Arthritis Research and Therapy

Amer, M. Badria, F. Maatooq, G. Mikhaeil B. (2002) Chemistry and Immunomodulatory Activity of Frankincense Department of Pharmacognosy, Faculty of Pharmacy, Mansoura University, Egypt

Battaglia, S. (2003) The complete guide to Aromatherapy, 2nd ed. The International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy, Australia

Cao, A. Fung, K. Ni, X. Postier, R. Suhail, M. Yang, Q. Young, G. Woolley, C. Zhang, J. Lin, H.(2012) Frankincense essential oil prepared from hydrodistillation of Boswellia sacra gum resins induces human pancreatic cancer cell death in cultures and in a xenograft murine model, published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 12:253

Grieve, M. (1931) A modern herbal Penguin, Great Britain. Cited in Battaglia (2003) The complete guide to Aromatherapy, 2nd ed. The International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy, Australia

Katayama, E. (2011) Lecture Notes. [Boswellia carteri essential oil profile May 2013].

Leung, A. Foster, S. (1996) Encyclopedia of common natural ingredients used in food, drugs, cosmetics 2nd ed. John Wiley and Sons Inc, USA

Mojay, G. (1999) Aromatherapy for healing the spirit, 2nd ed. Healing Arts Press, Vermont

Worwood, V. (1995) The fragrant mind Doubleday, Great Britain

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