Frankincense resin and oil on a table


An important incense since ancient times. It is also known as olibanum or “oil of Lebanon” (oleum libanum). This small tree grows on rocky hillsides in Yemen and Oman, although the finest quality still comes from North Africa, with some produced in Somalia.

Family: Berseraceae

Extraction: Distilled from oleo gum resin that hardens into “tears.” Absolute, CO2. The odor is balsamic, “soft.”

Medicinal Action: Frankincense is antiseptic and anti-inflammatory to lung, genital and urinary complaints, digestive tract ulcers and chronic diarrhea. It is also used in the treatment of breast cysts and to increase menstruation.

Cosmetic/Skin Use: Frankincense is excellent on mature skin and acne, and helps counter bacterial and fungal skin infections, boils, hard-to-heal wounds and scars, and distended varicose veins.

Emotional Attribute: Used throughout the ages to enhance spirituality, mental perception, meditation, prayer and consciousness, frankincense fortifies and soothes the spirit as it slows and deepens breathing. It is said to release past links and subconscious stress.

Associated Oils:

Olinbaum (B. papyrifera) –This is the historical species from Punt.

Elemi (Canarium luzonicum) –This tropical Philippine tree is distantly related to frankincense and was used in ancient trade. The oil, distilled from the gum, now scents soaps and cosmetics, and sometimes flavors food. Resinoid, absolute. It treats congested lungs, inflammation, infection and mature complexions. Emotionally, it reduces stress and nervousness.

For more Essential Oils visit the Aromatherapy Materia Medica

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Written by Kathi Keville

Explore Wellness in 2021