Ok quick disclaimer..I love frankincense. I love everything about it. I’ve created a whole skincare range with frankincense at it’s heart. Why? Well, where to start?
Here are 8 quick introductory frankincense facts that will inspire you and impress your friends, especially at Christmas time. I mean, what do you really know about the famous ‘King of essential oils’ that was given to Jesus? This fragrant resin has been considered for millennia to be worth its weight in gold, here’s why….
1) The word ‘Frankincense’ originates from the old French translation of ‘franc encens’, which means ‘quality incense’. Check out the flowers of the ancient frankincense tree (above), you see they look like little royal crowns. A clear giveaway to its revered status!
2) Frankincense has been used in ayurvedic medicine for centuries, and it’s said to have been traded in the Middle East and North Africa for more than 5000 years! The Egyptians loved it. Queen Hatshepsut of Egypt put together a research expedition to Somalia (or Punt as it was then) around 1500BC to discover more about the precious resin, and sacks of frankincense appear in murals in her temple.
3) Frankincense is commonly used in aromatherapy (e.g I Am Natural skincare!). It’s sometimes referred to as ‘olibanum’ and the varieties neglecta, carteri, sacra, serrata are sourced from the resin of Bowsellia trees in Somalia, Ethiopia, Oman, Pakistan or India. It’s a beautiful hardy tree with thin, peeling bark, tangled, scraggly branches and clustered leaves.
4) To obtain frankincense oil the tree is ‘tapped’ or ‘bled’ with a knife and a sticky fragrant resin oozes out. Boswellia trees take 25 years to produce their first resin (so it’s incredibly important that they are protected and cared for). Trees should be cut no more than 12 times a year to keep them healthy. The resin that leaks out of the cuts acts like a scab, protecting the wound so it can heal. It’s important trees aren’t ‘overtapped’ which can affect the health of the tree. This resin is then steam distilled to produce the essential oil.
5) Frankincense smells like heaven, or a combination of pine, lemon, earth and wood rolled into one. It’s a very calming soothing aroma. The oil is so good at de-stressing the mind and body that it’s been used in spiritual mediation for thousands of years, considered to provide a powerful link between humans and gods. In the Christian bible, frankincense (and myrrh) incense was ritualistically burned in the sacred temples in Jerusalem.
6) When you’re buying frankincense oil, avoid oils that say “fragrance oil” or “perfume oil” as these can be synthetic and don’t provide the desired health benefits. Instead, look for oils that say “pure essential oil” or “100% essential oil” for the highest-quality essential oils, and check for the latin name e.g Boswellia serrata.
7) Good quality frankincense oil has incredible anti-inflammatory and medicinal properties. Great for getting rid of that puffiness around your eyes in the morning! The resin is also regularly chewed by people in the middle east (instead of yukky western chewing gum) to keep their gums in tip top condition due to its anti-bacterial content.
8) Not only is frankincense relaxing and calming for mind and body, it improves mood and memory, reduces anxiety, boosts the immune system, strengthens skin, stimulates collagen production, improves overall skin tone, reduces redness and blemishes, lifts sagging skin and nourishes ageing skin. Cleopatra is reported to have used frankincense oil with geranium oil as a skin treatment. Wow!
I hope you liked my quick introduction to frankincense essential oil.
I’ll be writing more about frankincense, how to use it and the benefits it provides for your mind, body and skin. There is also growing excitement around the benefits of using frankincense oil for more serious illness and disease.
Read more about natural skincare in the I Am Natural Vegan Beauty Journal.
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