Chances are you've already heard about frankincense. Frankincense essential oil (FREO), sometimes known by its genus and species Boswellia carteri, is most recognized for its biblical references and as one of the gifts presented to Christ at birth. You may also appreciate its balsamic, woodsy aroma hence its historical name. Often called "olibanum" (oil from Lebanon) its proper name, frankincense, is derived from the Medieval French words for "real incense," really! In the modern day, however, frankincense essential oil offers many contemporary treatments, its advantages range from combating depression to managing wrinkles—even cancer prevention. Here are five surprising health and beauty benefits of frankincense that you may not have considered but definitely should.
1) Combats Stress and Depression
According to the Essential Oils Desk Reference, frankincense essential oil contains “sesquiterpenes.” Sesquiterpenes are organic compounds made of hydrogen and carbon organized in such a way that they cross the blood/brain barrier. In doing so, the inhalation of frankincense essential oil can stimulate the limbic system of the brain where emotions originate. The limbic system includes the hypothalamus of the brain where the pineal and pituitary glands produce hormones during a stress response. Frankincense essential oil may act to decrease the level of one of these hormones, cortisol, aiding in keeping the body calm during times of strife. It may also work on the brain as a mood elevator boosting the neurotransmitter, serotonin, to help combat depression.
2) Stimulates the Immune System
As you probably know, inflammation is a protective response initiated by the body. It is a reaction to a threat to the body's balance measured through the blood. This response acts to protect and repair tissues but, when left untreated, could lead to diagnoses as simple as hay fever, to more complex conditions like atherosclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and even cancer. According to one study by the National Institutes of Health, frankincense testing suggests it contains many anti-inflammatory properties. In this particular project, frankincense essential oil showed promise initiating tissue repair and stimulating white cell “proliferation” during the body's defense cycle (the accumulation of white cells is known to ward off infection and prevent many of the conditions noted).
3) Boosts Memory and Cognitive Function
As stated earlier, frankincense essential oil acts on the limbic system of the brain. Another study, documented by the National Institutes of Health, notes its effects on memory from a molecular standpoint. In the study, the results of “protein kinases” were observed. Protein kinases of the brain activate during learning and memory. The study was conducted in animals using an aqueous or watery extract of frankincense suggesting that its ingestion may improve memory. After ingestion, the memory tests in the animals showed a favorable increase in cognitive function. Suggestions for an intake to boost memory include placing three drops of frankincense in filtered water and consuming.
4) Combats Skin Aging, Aids Wound Healing
For all the reasons mentioned previously, frankincense essential oil is a natural choice to use in beauty aids. In early Egypt, this essential oil dotted beauty preparations for facial polishing and brightening; it is documented in old texts as a whitening agent and researched later for its properties to combat sun spots. On blemishes, it’s an antiseptic, due to its healing effect on the inflammatory response. In wound healing, it shows promise in all aspects of the inflammatory response. In a 2017 study, it tested positive for speeding the healing process, and the subjects studied also responded immediately to tissue cleanup of pathogens (disease-causing bacteria) at the site of injury.
5) May Prevent Cancer
The evidence is still under scrutiny, but some studies suggest there is a correlation between using the essential oils frankincense and myrrh and destruction of cancer cells! As stated earlier, frankincense essential oil can stimulate the immune system and enhance wound healing. With this in mind, it shows promise when opening the discussion of use in cancer prevention and treatment. One study, also from the National Institutes of Health, researched its anti-tumor activities. In this case, it documented improvement in patients with prostate and bladder cancer. The study is exciting and provides cause for further research development. Hopefully, this is a jumping off point into the positive effects of frankincense, its prevention, and aid toward tumor shrinkage of all cancers.
Frankincense Essential Oil, In Conclusion:
Frankincense essential oil may be ingested, diffused in a commercial aromatherapy diffuser, applied on the body with or without a carrier oil, like jojoba (to decrease skin sensitivity), inhaled, or added to beauty products to enhance its anti-aging properties. With this in mind, however, always exhibit caution when adding anything new into your health care or beauty profile. Although frankincense essential oil is natural, your body is unique and may react adversely to therapeutic agents. Please, talk with your health care provider, do some additional research, frankincense may be a cost-effective way toward the prevention of your health and enhancement of your natural beauty!
1. Essential Oils Desk Reference, Essential Science Publishing
Young Living Essential Oil Frankincense - Item Code #3548
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Disclaimer Notice: This information is intended for educational purposes only and is not meant to substitute for medical care or to prescribe treatment for any specific health condition. This information has not been evaluated by the Federal Food & Drug Administration.