Essential Oil Profile of the Month- Frankincense (Boswellia carterii)

By Michael Dell’Orfano, Lic.Ac., RA

This post is copied from our older, original blog. Original post date 8/25/2016.

Family Name: Burseraceae

Recommended Daily Dosage: Inhalation- Place 3-10 drops in an aromatherapy diffuser for 15-30 minutes at a time.  External- up to 5 drops in the bath, or dilute in a carrier oil at 2-5% before applying topically.

Precautions:Avoid if pregnant

Aroma: Balsamic

Taste: Bitter, pungent

Color: Clear or light yellow

Feel: Thin, slippery

Nature: Cool

Therapeutic Actions: expectorant, vulnerary, sedative, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antitumoral, antidepressant, astringent, cicatrizant, cytophylactic, imunnostimulant, sedative, carminative, emmenagogue, diuretic

Medicinal Uses: dry skin, acne, pimples, scars, skin ulcers, wounds, carbuncles, wrinkles, balances oily skin, nervous asthma, pleurisy, catarrhal coughs, bronchitis, laryngitis, shortness of breath, dermatitis, sinus congestion, cancer, chronic diarrhea, belching, cystitis, breast inflammation, diarrhea, dysmenorrhea, nephritis, cystitis, colds, flu, aching limbs, burns, depression, stress, nightmares, fear of failure, obsessive thinking, anxiety and nervous tension

Frankincense essential oil is obtained from the resin that exudes from this sacred tree that grows in limestone-rich soil found growing on rocky hillsides and cliffs, or in the dried riverbeds below in India, North Africa and the Middle East. The tree has gnarled branches with a plethora of narrow leaves and small racemes of white flowers which give rise to 3-celled capsules, with each cell containing three seeds. At least 17 distinct species of Boswelliaexist, and up to the three different trees (which are possibly distinct species) are classified as Boswellia carterii. Other commonly used varieties are Boswellia serrata andBoswellia sacra.

Frankincense’s alternate name is olibanum, derived from the Arabic term al luban, meaning “the milk.” The milky, resinous exudates contains up to 16% essential oils, terpenoids and gums. The gum-resin forms droplets known as tears, which change from the milky white color to orange-brown. The tears are then scraped off and collected in baskets made from woven palm leaves. The lighter colored frankincense is of the finest quality, and this can be collected from the ground after the resin naturally falls and dries on the ground. Frankincense collection begins in winter, peaks in spring and ends with onset of the summer monsoon season. The tears are graded according to color and size, with white being the best grade. While the fine grade is used to make incense, frankincense essential oil is commonly distilled from resin dust and siftings.