a fun and informative blog about aromatherapy, alternative medicine & the healing arts, beauty, & the mind-body-spirit

Frankincense & Myrrh are two of the oldest and most famous of aromatherapy essential oils (resins) known to man. Their history dates back to the beginning of civilization and was prized among kings. Even today, Frankincense & Myrrh are still prized for their many aromatherapy uses.

Though both frankincense and myrrh tend to bring up certain religious connotations to the western mind, they have been in active use as magical incenses, ritual tools and for their healing properties since at least 1500BC.

One thing to be very aware of is that if you are interested in purchasing Frankincense and/or Myrrh essential oils, most are adulterated, and diluted, so it may be more beneficial (depending on how you want to use them and what for) just to buy the resins and burn them on hot coals (charcoal), or read more below on crude resin and how it’s made into liquid aromatics as well as where to get therapeutic grade frankincense oil:

Frankincense Tears are known for their use in consecration, meditation, protection and purifying.

Myrrh is known for: Protection, purification, healing and magical potency. Both are known for their use as a sacred tool in many cultures.

I love Aura Cacia’s description,
The deeply meditative aromas of frankincense and myrrh evoke ancient tombs and temples. Their fragrances, like the breath of a prayer, create an olfactory link to the dawning of civilized human society.

The earliest recorded use of frankincense is found in an inscription on the tomb of a 15th century BC Egyptian queen named Hathsepsut. Ancient Egyptians burned frankincense as incense and ground the charred resin into a powder called kohl. Kohl was used to make the distinctive black eyeliner seen on so many figures in Egyptian art. Egyptians also used myrrh resin as incense and as an important ingredient in the embalming process, sometimes placing the crude resin in the eviscerated body cavities of mummies.

Frankincense and myrrh are familiar botanical products in the east, where they’ve been used for millennia. Most people in the west are unfamiliar with the true identity of these enigmatic substances — even though they are frequently mentioned in historical texts, especially scripture, (frankincense is mentioned 22 times in the Bible).

Frankincense and myrrh essential oils are distilled from the resin of two separate but related trees of the burseraceae family. Plants of this family are often sculpted into natural bonsai by the extreme conditions of their desert environments, with eerily contorted trunks and stubby leafless branches.

There are many different species of frankincense (Boswellia) and myrrh (Commiphera) growing from east Africa through southern Arabia and into northwestern India. The general consensus of botanists identifies four main species of Boswellia and two of Commiphera.

Boswellia carteri comes from Somalia. B. sacra comes from southern Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Oman. B. frereana also grows in Somalia. Its resin and essential oil are known as African elemi, (not to be confused with true elemi essential oil, which comes from a Philippine tree). B. serrata grows in India. Its resin and essential oil are known as Indian olibanum.

Commiphera myrrha or true myrrh occurs in Somalia and the Arabian peninsula, along with about eight other species which are often mixed together in commercially available crude resin.

The trunks of both frankincense and myrrh trees exude a sticky substance called oleo gum resin. This oleo gum resin is made up of roughly 65% gum, 30% resin and 4% essential oil (frankincense), and 45% gum, 30% resin and 4% essential oil (myrrh). The tree trunks are incised by collectors to expedite the release of the resin, which dries in the hot desert sun into hard knobby masses called tears — a fitting name considering what the tree goes through, and in light of the fact that myrrh traditionally symbolizes suffering. (Frankincense symbolizes divinity.)

The crude resin of frankincense and myrrh can be treated in one of two ways to produce liquid aromatics. The resin is soluble in chemical solvents and the essential oil can be steam distilled. The solvent extraction process produces a viscous, almost solid substance called a resinoid. Resinoids are soluble in high-grade, odorless alcohols. Alcohol dissolved resinoids are sometimes passed off as distilled essential oils. Resinoids are often used in perfume making. Steam distilled essential oils of frankincense and myrrh are most appropriate for use in aromatherapy.

More About Frankincense:

Oil of frankincense is slightly viscous, yellow to green with a deeply balsamic, fresh-resinous aroma. Sweet-lemony or green apple-like notes add complexity to the overall aroma profile of good quality frankincense oil. Thin, turpentine or solvent-like, weak, short-lived aromas are indicative of poor quality or adulterated frankincense oil.

Traditional Use: Frankincense has a long history as incense. It was burned by the Egyptians and is used in many religious ceremonies. Traditionally it has also been used for skin ailments from acne to wound healing.

Properties: Analgesic, anti-arthritic, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiseptic, astringent, carminative, digestive, diuretic, expectorant, sedative, tonic, vulnerary

Benefits: Acne, anxiety, asthma, blemishes, bronchitis, colds, coughs, dry skin, flu, nervousness, rheumatism, scars, skin ailments, stress, ulcers, urinary tract infections, wrinkles, wounds. To take advantage of some of the skin healing properties of this oil it may be added to skin creams or toners.

Blends Well With: Bergamot, black pepper, camphor, cinnamon, cypress, geranium, grapefruit, lavender, lemon, mandarin, neroli, orange, palmarosa, patchouli, pine, rose, sandalwood, vetiver, ylang ylang

Of Interest: Frankincense has many other names that it is known as. Most commonly you will see it as frankincense, olibanum, or boswellia.

Frankincense history dates back thousands of years, with both spiritual and medicinal uses. It is considered the “holy anointing oil” in the Middle East. The ancient Chinese used frankincense as a treatment for a range of ailments. The Ebers Papyrus, one of the oldest known medical records from the sixteenth century B.C., mentions frankincense oil. The ancient Egyptians listed the oil on hundreds of prescriptions and recipes.

Ancient frankincense (also known as olibanum) was sought after by kings and valued as highly as gold. Today, frankincense is still used worldwide for both its ceremonial and medicinal benefits.

The various types of frankincense include Boswellia carterii and Boswellia frereana from Ethiopia, Somalia, and Oman; Boswellia thurifera from Somalia and India; Boswellia papyrifera from Ethiopia, East Africa, and the Sudan; Boswellia serrata (also known as Indian frankincense or Salaigugal); and Boswellia sacra (also called hojary, hojari, houjari, hogary, hawjari, hawjeri), which grows wild in inland Arabia. – Carol Wiley

More About Myrrh:

Oil of myrrh is slightly viscous, yellowish to amber orange with a warm-spicy, balsamic fragrance. Overly viscous, dark brown oils may be extracted resinoids and not steam distilled essential oils, which are more useful in aromatherapy applications. Myrrh resinoids are more appropriate as perfume fixatives.

Traditional Use: In the fragrance industry the oil is used as a fixative. Medicinally it is used to treat wounds, and in many oral care products.

Properties: Anticatarrhal, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antiviral, astringent, carminative, cicatrisant, emmenagogue, expectorant, fungicidal, sedative, stomachic, tonic, uterine, vulnerary

Benefits: Amenorrhea, arthritis, asthma, athlete’s foot, bronchitis, catarrh, colds, cough, cracked skin, cuts, diarrhea, dyspepsia, eczema, flatulence, gingivitis, gum infections, hemorrhoids, hyperthyroid, laryngitis, leucorrhea, loss of appetite, mouth ulcers, sore throat, thrush, ulcers, wounds, wrinkles. The antimicrobial and astringent properties of this oil make it useful in oral and skin care products.

Blends Well With: Bergamot, chamomile, clove, cypress, eucalyptus lemon, frankincense, geranium, grapefruit, jasmine, juniper, lavender, lemon, neroli, palmarosa, patchouli, pine, rose, rosemary, sandalwood, tea tree, vetiver, ylang ylang

Of Interest: Myrrh has been prevalent throughout history. It was used in the mummification process by the Egyptians. It has been used in religious rituals all over the world, and it is utilized in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicines.

Aromatherapy uses of frankincense and myrrh

Aromatherapy draws on the deeply meditative quality of these oils. A gentle diffusion of a blend of equal proportions of both can evoke emotional balance in cases of anxiety or stress. Such a blend is also appropriate as an adjunct to prayer and meditation. In fact this usage is consistent with the long history of frankincense and myrrh. Frankincense and myrrh can be useful in less relaxing blends as well. Outstanding and unusual aromas can be created by blending the two oils with citrus oils — lemon and bergamot work well with frankincense; orange and tangerine with myrrh. The citrus oils produce a lighter, cleaner, more uplifting aroma, more inspiring and less introspective than using frankincense and myrrh alone. These citrus frankincense and myrrh blends are useful when seeking emotional inspiration. Frankincense and myrrh alone are best used when seeking emotional insight.

One of the most appropriate ways to use frankincense and myrrh may be to burn the crude resin on hot coals as the ancients did. This simple ritual will release a distinctive aroma and sinuous trails of fragrant incense that hold a mysterious presence in the room. The curling tendrils of burning frankincense and myrrh have measured the passage of history, and facilitate the navigation of inner and outer spiritual.

Frankincense & Myrrh by Martin Watt and Wanda Sellar A great reference book for enthusiasts of ancient cultures and those interested in the beginnings of aromatherapy and the use of incense. This book charts out and goes into great depth about the ancient spice routes and how each culture (Egyptian and Mesopotamian) viewed and used Frankincense & Myrrh. The book also includes ancient and modern recipes for medicinal used of both resins.

The Many Uses & Benefits of Frankincense

There are so many uses and benefits of frankincense essential oil its hard to list them all, but one thing known about frankincense is  its meditational value and action as a skin tonic. It is considered especially good for dry and mature skin, and is commonly used in high-end skin-care products.

Frankincense contains sesquiterpenes, which stimulate the brain’s limbic system (the center of memory and emotions) and the hypothalamus, pineal, and pituitary glands. The scent can calm and soothe the whole body and mind, while also being stimulating and elevating. Useful for visualizing and improving one’s spiritual connection, frankincense has comforting properties that help center the mind and overcome stress and despair.

In The Fragrant Heavens, Valeria Ann Worwood describes the spiritual benefits of frankincense essential oil as “adaptogenic – it will adapt to a person’s spiritual state of being… capable of offering support in a wide range of circumstances.” And it can “induce feelings of emotional stability, enlightenment, protection, introspection, courage, resolution, fortitude, acceptance and inspiration.”

According to Aromatherapy for Dummies, frankincense essential oil can help improve circulation and improve the integrity of blood vessels (along with bergamot, cedarwood, chamomile, grapefruit, and lemon). Advanced Aromatherapy: The Science of Essential Oil Therapy notes frankincense is used for weakened immune system, asthma, and depression.

According to the Essential Oils Desk Reference, frankincense uses are for depression, cancer, respiratory infections, inflammation, and to enhance the immune system.

In March 2009, a study published in the BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2009, 9:6 showed that frankincense essential oil “suppressed cell viability in bladder transitional carcinoma J82 cells.”

Frankincense is suitable for many conditions and has been shown to:

  • Treat skin inflammation, scarring, wrinkles and acne
  • Encourage cellular regeneration
  • Alleviate headaches
  • Treat allergies
  • Help heal bronchitis, laryngitis, and asthma
  • Enhance digestion
  • Slow down and deepen your breathing
  • Act as a powerful anti-depressant
  • Calm your mind, ease anxiety, and reduce nightmares
  • Have properties that can heal melanoma and some cancers (see this post for more on frankincense healing cancer)

Myrrh is equally beneficial and can:

  • Balance your thyroid and endocrine system
  • Heal fungal and viral infections
  • Enhance your emotional well being
  • Treat ulcers
  • Eliminate gingivitis
  • Rid your body of parasites
  • Relieve asthma, coughs and colds
  • Act as an expectorant and rids your body of congestion
  • Reduce cholesterol

Frankincense Images:

http://members.nbci.com/rashid4/oman/luban/luban.html http://www.mobot.org/MOBOT/research/library/kohler/1761_082.jpg
fine image of frankincense

http://www.hkitaly.it/ayurveda/incenso.htm

excellent image, takes a while to load but shows both Boswellia sacra tree and how oleo-gum-resin exhudes from the trunk

frankincense a microscopic view of Frankincense

http://micro.magnet.fsu.edu/religion/pages/frankincense.html

molecular image of frankincense resin-stunning

http://www.khareefsal.om/inner/pic/d2.html

frankincense resin congealing on trunk

http://www.khareefsal.om/inner/pic/e2.html

frankincense tree

http://www.omanet.com/frankincense.htm

harvesting frankincense

http://web.odu.edu/webroot/instr/sci/lmusselman.nsf/pages/listofbibleplant

That site has images of many plants of the bible including frankincense-You need to scroll down the list almost to the bottom to reach Boswellia but there are several excellent pictures of the tree, its flowers and the varioius grades of resin.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Also, if you are interested in grinding your Frankincense or Myrrh into powders for other uses, see this awesome post;

http://www.apothecarysgarden.com/apps/blog/show/25153121-how-to-grind-frankincense-myrrh

 

Where to buy Sacred Frankincense (therapeutic grade); from a dear friend who is also a distributor for Young Living Oils, see her fb page here.

About these ads

Comments on: "Frankincense & Myrrh: What You Should Know" (15)

  1. Since time began Frankincense has been considered the greatest of medicines.
    Mentioned by numerous great minds of their time, Frankincense has been recognized for its antiseptic and soothing qualities.
    Although used for millenia for countless ailments it is only in recent times that the chemical components of Frankincense have been analyzed. Scientists are very keen to isolate a particular component that has shown signs of re-setting damaged DNA.
    Therefore, there are hopes for a cure not only for cancer but many other terrible ailments.

    the best way to use Frankincense is via the smoke or by using high quality Boswellia Sacra oil.

    Just as mankind finally realizes the true importance of Frankincense the Frankincense tree finds itself endangered, over used and in the middle of many wars and conflicts.

    For this reason Frankincense Tree have founded, “The Welsh Frankincense Tree Project”.
    When you buy quality Frankincense from them you will be directly helping in the battle to save this Holy and ancient tree.

    Common Uses

    Anxiety Ulcers Nausea Ceremonies Circulation
    Stress Mosquito repellent Indigestion Antiseptic Toothpaste
    Depression Aging formulas Skin conditions Arthritis Deodorant

  2. Thanks for some other informative web site. The place else could I get that type of information written in such a perfect approach? I’ve a challenge that I’m just now running on, and I’ve been at the look out for such information.

  3. Absolutely, agreed with the description about Boswelia and Myrrh. They are, indeed, sacred plants

  4. What an excellent explanation I have been searching for information like this for quite some time….Thanks

  5. [...] Also see this post for more about Frankincense & Myrrh what you should know. [...]

  6. “Frankincense & Myrrh: What You Should Know YellowstarEssentialsBlog”
    was indeed definitely enjoyable and instructive! In the present
    day society that’s tough to carry out. Thx, Mabel

  7. [...] drops of anti-aging essential oils (I use rose, neroli, jasmine, ylang ylang, frankincense, sandalwood, myrrh, patchouli, and [...]

  8. i absolutely love frankincense, especially the hogary i found this website really good http://www.frankincensetrail.co.uk they have all the frankincense there for sale plus they even have the sacred frankincense oil

  9. […] rejuvenating face mask that helps to smooth wrinkles, fine lines, chapped, oily or unbalanced skin; Frankincense is the one essential oil to have in your arsenal. Plus, if you like essential oil recipes, or all […]

  10. Wow, that’s what I was exploring for, what a data!
    existing here at this blog, thanks admin of this web page.

  11. I consume frankiscents & oil of oregano in phytocaps for pain. Works great!

  12. i been reading about frankincense and its deep history in society this website sell the pure sacred frankincense oil http://www.puresacra.com they also have the royal green frankincense

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Tag Cloud

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 977 other followers

%d bloggers like this: