Updated: Nov 29, 2020
Frankincense General Information: It is known as the KING 👑 OF ESSENTIAL OILS‼️ It’s produced from the resin of the Boswellia sacra tree 🌲 & trees of similar species. It is native to Ethiopia, northern Somalia, SW Oman, & southern Yemen. It is also known as Olibanum or Ru Xiang in Chinese Medicine. It has a pale yellow or yellow-brown color with a rich sweet-woody base note with medium intensity and good persistence. 15-20 kg of resin tears yields 1 kg of essential oil.
👑What is a Resin⁉️ It’s a sap like substance with high viscosity (thick) that is harvested by scoring or bleeding the trees. The harvesting season is anywhere from 7-8 months, and the time and months vary from species to species.
👑 Ethical Sourcing Practices: Harvesting the resin is a lengthy process that requires a delicate and precise skill. Most harvesters travel long distances, harvesting resin from remote locations. Once the tears are harvested, the resin is carefully cleaned, separated, and organized. The Frankincense trees are quickly becoming over harvested and non-ethical practices are becoming a problem. Carefully scoring or “bleeding” the trees to collect the resinous tears ensures the safety of the tree and allows the Frankincense 🌲 to produce tears for hundreds of years‼️ Things to know 💭
Harvesting outside of the season is detrimental to the trees
Only tapping trees greater than 10cm (1st tapping between 15-40 yrs. old)
Tap trees for 2 consecutive yrs. and rest 1
Trees should only receive 3, 6, 9 cuts a year depending on their size
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👑 Adulteration: This oil is usually adulterated by the addition of synthetic components such as alpha-pinene or because of the high yield of resin, the Frankincense resinoid is dissolved in alcohol and passed off as a distilled oil (8).
👑 Chemical Constituents: Frankincense is a complex mixture of monoterpenes: alpha-pinene, limonene, alpha-thujene, and beta-pinene.
🔬Alpha-pinene it what provides pine trees with their distinct scent and is also found in rosemary, cypress, juniper berry, helichrysum, and wild orange. Research is showing that alpha-pinene may have skin and oral health supporting benefits along with supporting proper immune and respiratory functions (4)
🔬Limonene is the primary chemical constituent of several citrus oils and is known for is powerful cleansing properties. It is also found in black pepper, spearmint, and dill. Studies are starting to examine its abilities to support cellular function, immune system, and metabolism (5).
🔬Biomedical Properties: Anti-inflammatory, analgesic, immunostimulant, antidepressant, expectorant, diuretic, antioxidant, antitumoral, respiratory relaxant (1, 2, 6, 8, 10). 🧴Topically it’s known for its ability to beautify, rejuvenate skin, reduce blemishes and appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Internally it promotes cellular health & immunity, while aids in the body’s naturally inflammatory response.
😄☹️Emotions: It is known as the oil of truth and helps reveal deceptions and false truths. It works with negative emotions such as abandonment and feeling unprotected. It promotes willpower, strength and loss of personal boundaries, mental and emotional burnout and depression(8, 9).
👑 Chinese Medicine: (1, 9, 10)
Movement: rising, circulating
Warmth: neutral to warm
Meridian: Lung, Heart, San Jiao, Bladder (possible Kidney)
5-element: metal, fire
Function: Tonify Qi, Nourish Blood, Dry Damp-Resolve Phlegm, Invigorate Qi and Blood, and Strengthen the Shen.
💵 💭📚Know Who You Buy From: There are many quality companies out there and it is important to know how to find them. I always start with recommendations from reputable sources and then research the company. If the company practices ethical sourcing and has high quality standards, they should offer that information to the public. These companies should also put their oils through several tests. Some of the main tests essential oils go through and what they test for:
Organoleptic: looks, feels, and smells as it should
Microbial: free from any bio-hazardous microorganisms
Gas chromatography identifies the chemical compounds & their levels
Mass spectrometry: aromatic compounds
Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy: quality by examining different compounds
Chirality: pure and free from synthetic fillers
Isotopic analysis: follows the proper chemical constituent pattern based on sourcing location
Heavy metal testing looks for heavy metals like mercury, arsenic, or lead
As a Physician 🥼 of East Asian Medicine, I am of the practice that I like to use products that are sourced where they grow naturally. That means where the weather, climate, soil, and temperature is right for that plant. It is also important to know that where that plant is sourced and the time of year it is sourced, changes its medicinal properties as a result of the above. This is not a bad thing, in fact it’s good to know especially if you are looking for a particular property. The other thing I like to know about the companies I use, is how they are working to reduce the impact on the species itself or increase the impact on the community it is sourcing from. A few companies I use are: floracopeia, eden botanical, snow lotus, and DōTERRA.
👑 DōTERRA is one of my favorites for many reasons. The main reason is their Co-impact sourcing practices. They work directly with the harvesters to provide fair wage and on-time payment which provides for a more stable and reliable income, which also ensures the cleaning and sorting of the resin takes place as close to the harvesting locations as possible. They work to make sure these people and sacred trees are taken care of. What makes DōTERRA Frankincense unique is there are dozens of species of Boswellia trees, but only 4 product true Frankincense‼️ DōTERRA has chosen to use all 4 of these species: carteri, frereana, sacra, & papyrifera to make its pure CPTG Frankincense blend. Each species had its unique properties, so together not only makes this essential oil a powerhouse & a must have, it makes it fully sustainable‼️
Aldrich, E. & Bornemann, R. (2013) Fang Xiang Liao Fa Essential Oil Analogues of TCM Herbal Formulas. Self-published no other information.
Al-Eid, F., Bannuru, R.R., Osani, M.C., and Wang, C. (2018). Efficacy of curcumin and Boswellia for knee osteoarthritis: Systematic review and meta-analysis. HHS Author Manuscripts 43(3). doi: 10.1016/j.semarthrit.2018.03.001
Decarlo, A., Elmi, A.D., and Johnson, S (2018) Sustainable Frankincense Production Systems in Somaliland. 2nd Edition. Conserve the Cal Madow, Hargeisa, Somaliland. Retrieved from https://aromaticplant.org/assets/species/best-practices2018revision.pdf
Dozmorov, M., Fung, K.M., Lin, H.K., Suhail, M.M., Woolley, C.L., Wren, J., Wu, W., Yang, Q., Young, D.G. (2014). Differential effects of selective frankincense (Ru Xiang) essential oil versus non-selective sandalwood (Tan Xiang) essential oil on cultured bladder cancer cells: a microarray and bioinformatics study. Journal of Chinese Medicine 9(18). doi: 10.1186/1749-8546-9-18
Holmes, Peter (2016). Aromatica A Clinical Guide to Essential Oil Therapeutics Vol 1: Principles and Profiles. London, UK: Singing Dragon
Holmes, Peter (2019). Aromatica A Clinical Guide to Essential Oil Therapeutics Vol 2: Applications and Profiles. London, UK: Singing Dragon
No author or editors listed (2019) Emotions & Essential Oils A Reference Guide for Emotional Healing (7th ed.). Pleasant Grove, UT: Essential Emotions
Yu, W. and Yuen, J. (2002) Materia Medica of Essential Oils (Bases on a Chinese Medical Perspective). Not published. Order at firstname.lastname@example.org