I love the aroma, history and significance of Frankincense.
Frankincense has been among the most important oils in aromatherapy, ayurvedic medicine, perfumery, and religious ceremony for ages. Literally ages! Its use dates back thousands of years. And frankincense, “Libona” in Hebrew, is mentioned throughout the bible, including the Song of Songs, “Who is this that cometh out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all powders of the merchant”.
In ancient times Frankincense was actually worth more than its weight in gold! And the fragrance of frankincense is glorious. Frankincense is warm and resinous with the most gentle hint of spice and a pure sweetness unlike anything else. This sweetness is neither rosy nor like jasmine or neroli, it’s not citrus-like, nor like cedar. It’s not surprising that frankincense has been set above all other oils in so many cultures. It is unique.
Today there are a number of different species of frankincense gums distilled for use in aromatherapy. Most come from east Africa. These species include Boswellia carterri, Boswellia sacra, and Boswellia frereana. But frankincense oil is usually a distillation of resins of multiple species from more than one country of origin. I have spoken to several distillers who tell me that after harvesting, people bring frankincense tears to the borders between Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya where it is traded. The resin is then sorted by purity and not by species. The finest tears go to the highest bidder and there is a lot of competition for this precious commodity. In those seasons when the harvest is smaller, the cost of frankincense will soar. But it’s worth it!
Sometime you might have the opportunity to buy “Indian Frankincense”. If you decide to, please ignore the description of the aroma of frankincense given above. Indian Frankincense, Boswellia serrata, is very different from the frankincense coming from eastern Africa. True, Indian Frankincense will be a small fraction of the cost, but it will also be an entirely different quality. By comparison to African species, it is heavy and harsh and dull. It just won’t do as a substitute. You will never have to worry about Young Living, Bella Mira or any good company like Essential Wholesale using anything less than frankincense worth its weight in gold.