Rediscovering the many health benefits of frankincense, a natural analgesic and anti-inflammatory

Frankincense has been used for its fragrance and medicinal properties for a long time. It is used as a natural remedy in various countries, including Greece, India and China. However, it is only recently that scientific studies have begun to corroborate its health benefits.

What is frankincense?

Frankincense comes from olibanum trees, which are commonly grown in Somalia and some regions of Pakistan. Olibanum trees are unique because they can thrive even in dry conditions. The trees release clear saps or gums. Using specialized knives, people harvest the gums during early spring and fall. The gum drips down and hardens into resin.

Burning the resin releases a balsamic and spicy fragrance, with a hint of citrus. Aside from its pleasant smell, frankincense is believed to have medicinal properties. Ancient Egyptian, Grecian, and Arabian texts reveal that it was used to treat throat issues, digestive orders and bleeding. It was also used as a natural mosquito repellent.

In ancient times, frankincense was a luxurious commodity. It was a gift befitting kings and queens. People fought to extract the resins from the trees and sell them on the market as a precious good. Frankincense’s use is well documented in many classical texts across many cultures and religions, especially Christianity.

Health benefits of frankincense

While frankincense fell out of trend for some time, it is a popular essential oil used in aromatherapy today. There is not a lot of research on it, but scientists have begun to re-examine its acclaimed health benefits. More and more studies are affirming the records in historical texts, indicating that the medicinal uses of frankincense still apply.


Here are some of the health benefits associated with frankincense:

1. It reduces pain and inflammation

Frankincense contains anti-inflammatory compounds that can offer relief to people with pain-related disorders. Some of these conditions include arthritis, asthma, and digestive disorders like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Its anti-inflammatory qualities stem from the presence of terpenes and boswellic acids. These compounds inhibit the release of leukotrienes, which cause inflammation.

2. It boosts the immune system

Frankincense contains antiseptic qualities that help protect against pathogens. It can be burned to eliminate germs in the air or applied to wounds to prevent tetanus. One study published in Society for Applied Microbiology affirmed that frankincense, along with myrrh essential oil, is effective against certain pathogens. Its benefits are effective internally as well. Due to its anti-inflammatory qualities, it can help prevent the onset of diseases.

3. It improves oral health

Frankincense oils’ antiseptic qualities extend even to oral health. It aids in the prevention of common oral problems, like toothaches, mouth sores and cavities. Research has shown that the boswellic acids in frankincense oil also contains antibacterial qualities. Using it for brushing one’s teeth with homemade natural toothpaste may help prevent or treat oral infections.

4. It acts as a sleep aid

Frankincense oil is an effective sedative, which helps a person feel more calm and relaxed. These qualities reduce stress levels. Aside from inducing relaxation, it also helps clear out breathing passages, like the sinuses and throat. All of these effects naturally contribute to helping a person sleep better.

5. It has anti-cancer properties

Some test tube experiments have revealed that frankincense oil may help prevent and treat cancer – and the boswellic acids were found to be behind this effect. They limit metastasis, the spread of cancer, by inhibiting the formation of cancer cell DNA. Other studies have also found that frankincense oil can distinguish between cancer cells and normal, health cells, thereby only attacking the former. So far, frankincense oil has been found effective against prostate and skin cancer, among others.

The medicinal value of frankincense extends to modern times. Learn more about its medicinal uses at

Sources include: 1 2 3

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