Frankincense – Not Just for Christmas!

Frankincense 3

Christmas may be over for another year but that doesn’t mean that Frankincense has to be forgotten until the Christmas Story is told again.  Once considered as valuable as gold and gems, Frankincense was much sought after as a perfume. Its trade was once one of the main resources of Arabic countries, and its control has provoked many local wars.  The queen of Soba made a perilous journey from Somalia to visit King Solomon, just to ensure a flourishing trade of this valuable commodity.

During Pagan times Frankincense was burnt as an offering to the gods Hermes and Demeter. Arabic doctors used it as a remedy for cancer, and the Chinese employed it to cure T.B. of the lymph glands, and leprosy. Interestingly, the Orientals in Levant – home of the finest tobaccos – chew the resin of frankincense, and even though they smoke, smokers cancer is relatively unknown in the area.  The Egyptians also added it to their rejuvenating  potions and masks, and mixed it with cinnamon to relieve aching limbs.

Frankincense is one of the most beautiful and special aromatic resins. It has been used extensively in religious ceremonies and rituals for thousands of years. There are diverse grades but the best Frankincense tends to come from Somalia, Oman, and Yemen.  This hardy plant can grow in the most extreme desert conditions on the planet and there is also an Indian Frankincense.  Due to the current political situation in Somalia, it is quite rare and difficult to obtain, and supply can be very erratic.  The trees grow wild and are harvested by nomadic peoples who have their own family `orchard` of trees. The tree is slit, similar to a rubber tree which then produces a milky white sap, collected when it has crystalised. In Oman the 1st cut or Tawquii produces the purest and most valuable resin, the major part of which is exported to perfume and cosmetic houses around the world. The 2nd and 3rd cuts made at 2 week intervals, produces a yellower resin.

.Nowadays frankincense is used in medicine and for creating expensive perfumes and cosmetics – it is a particularly good fixative. It is currently undergoing research and being used therapeutically in European hospitals.

This oil has a strong anti-inflammatory action and also stimulates the immune system. Considered one of the most valuable oils for respiratory disorders of a serious nature, it has a pronounced effect on the mucous membranes, which is especially useful in clearing the lungs and aiding deep breathing. Also useful for menstrual and reproductive problems,

Frankincense is said to smooth wrinkles and give new life to aging skin. Its astringent action certainly makes this oil an effective facial toner, and enables it to balance an oily complexion. It can also help heal wounds, ulcers and disorders which cause skin inflammation.

I absolutely adore this resin and although expensive, it doesn’t come close to the price of some of the modern day “wonder oils” that are touted  by cosmetic companies. A few drops can be diluted in any carrier oil and just rubbed into your skin although I must warn pregnant women against the use of any essential oil …….. just in case.


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