Before we begin a specific discussion of an individual essential oil, it is important to speak to the class of essential oils themselves, their history and use.
The use of essential oils dates back thousands of years and over this time more and more is being discovered about the potency and value of these oils. The term aromatherapy was first coined by a French chemist named Gattefosse in 1928.
After discovering by accident that lavender was able to heal a burn on his hand and prevent scarring, he was sold on the value of the oil. He found that numerous oils were more effective in their total part than in a synthetic variation or isolated form.
Another early example happened in 1904 when Cuthbert Hall demonstrated that the power of eucalyptus oil in its simple natural whole form was much stronger and more effective than its isolated active ingredient known as eucalyptol.
This interest in oils continued on down through time while scientists continued to dig deep into their value. It should also be noted that the term aromatherapy is somewhat misleading as it seems to point to a type of healing that deals mostly with the sense of smell, and emotions.
In addition to value in their aroma, essential oils contain individual, unique characteristics that allow them to work with the body’s chemistry in a very direct way to turn on and off the effects of certain organs and systems as a whole.
An example of this is when oils are used externally for a massage, they are absorbed by the skin and transported through the body. Take for instance when you rub a clove of garlic on your foot, it will be absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream and your breath will have an odor. It takes varying amounts of time for different oils to be absorbed through the skin.
So, there are three different ways that essential oils relate to the human body:
- Pharmacological – When essential oils enter the bloodstream chemical changes take place when the oil reacts with enzymes, hormones etc…
- Physiological – This has to do with the way that the essential oil affects various systems in the body. For instance whether they are stimulated or sedated.
- Psychological – This is the effect that takes place when an oil is inhaled and their is an individual response to the aroma.
It is very important to understand the complexity of essential oils and the degree to which they can impact healing within the body. Essential oils and the practice of aromatherapy are just one part of the bigger field of herbal medicine.
Like many other plant therapies, the full value of plants form a medicinal perspective has not yet been realized.
Frankincense, also known as olibanum, comes from trees in the Boswellia genus. These small trees or shrubs are native to the Red Sea area and grow wild throughout north east Africa. This tree has a number of feather-like leaves with white or pale pink flowers.
This plant produces a natural oleo gum resin which is collected through a rather time consuming process of making an incision in the bark. As a result of their incision, the tree ‘bleeds’ a milky white substance that heals the tree and prevents infection. After ten days the resin has hardened and is scraped from the tree. The highest quality frankincense comes from wounding the tree three times.
Frankincense was traditionally used as incense and was also ground into a powder and used as eyeliner by Egyptian women. Today, the essential oil, acquired by steam distillation of the resin, is widely used and holds great therapeutic value.
This oil has a potent aroma that is a combination of woody, earthy, spicy and slightly fruity. Some people actually think that smells like licorice.
Therapeutic Properties of Frankincense Oil
The main health benefits of frankincense oil can be attributed to the following properties:
In addition, this oil also has cellular regeneration, gas removal, cellular protection, menstruation balancing, uterine and wound healing capabilities.
A Closer Look at Some Ways to Use Frankincense Oil
There are a number of reasons to admire this ancient oil that has much therapeutic value. Here are just a few of its desirable characteristics.
Wound Healing and Infection Prevention: Frankincense has powerful antiseptic properties that help speed up wound, healing including burns, scrapes and cuts. It also helps to keep infection at bay. Put a few drops of lavender oil on the wound followed by a few drops of frankincense for rapid healing.
Inflammation Buster: Researchers at Cardiff University found that frankincense inhibits the formation of inflammatory molecules and helps prevent the breakdown of cartilage tissue that can cause arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Mix a few drops in a carrier salve and rub into your hands for relief.
Fade Scars: After a wound has healed, frankincense can help fade scars.
Phlegm Fighter: Frankincense oil can break up phlegm in your respiratory tract and lungs, and help reduce congestion of the nasal tract, larynx, pharynx, bronchi, and lungs. In addition, it acts as a an antidepressant and anti-inflammatory to help relax breathing passages
To use, put six drops into a bowl with some very hot water and lean over the bowl with a towel over your head to keep the steam contained. Breathe deeply for about five minutes to reduce congestion.
Stress Reliever: Just a drop or two of oil on your temples can help to melt away stress. Also, mixing a few drops with a carrier oil such as sweet almond oil and rubbing it on the back of your neck will also help you handle stress. Rub a little oil between the palms of your hand and take a deep breath to promote calmness. Also, try adding a few drops along with a few drops of lavender to your bath for a relaxing soak. You can even add a few drops to your washcloth while in the shower. Once the hot water hits the cloth you will instantly feel yourself relax
Immune System Booster: Massage a few drops into the balls of your feet daily to boost your immune system. You can also diffuse it throughout your home or in your bedroom at night. This is especially good to do during cold and flu season.
Mood Booster: Improve your mental outlook by placing a few drops of the oil on the back of your neck by your brain stem a few times each day.
Reduce Swelling from Insect Bites: To reduce swelling, place a few drops on the bite several times a day until the discomfort is gone.
Promote Sleep: If you have trouble sleeping or just want to relax before bed, try diffusing frankincense in your bedroom. You will sleep like a baby.
Reduce Indigestion: To remedy digestive distress such as gas, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, PMS, stomach ache or cramps, you can add 1 drop of the oil to one tablespoon of honey. Be sure to use only 100% pure oil not fragrance oil.
Eliminate an Itch: If you have an itch, place a few drops of oil on your skin for immediate relief.
Improve Oral Health: Frankincense oil will help to keep your mouth as clean and fresh as possible. It can help keep bad breath, canker sores, toothaches and cavities at bay. Make up your own toothpaste using a few drops of oil, coconut oil and a little baking soda.
Restless Leg Syndrome: If you suffer from restless leg syndrome, simply apply a couple of drops of frankincense oil in a carrier oil to the bottom of your feet before going to sleep.
Wrinkle Reducer: Dab frankincense on fine lines and wrinkles to help reduce their appearance. You can also mix a 50/50 blend using sweet almond oil in a glass roller ball. Also, add a drop or two of frankincense to your daily moisturizer to boost its performance.
Blending: Frankincense blends well with the following:
Frankincense Oil Recipes/ Blends
Soothing Face Mask
This mask helps to draw out impurities while leaving your skin soft and supple.
- 2 tablespoons bentonite clay
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon of raw honey
- 3 drops of frankincense oil
- 2 drops of lavender
Mix everything together. Add a little water if necessary. Apply to your face and leave on for fifteen minutes. Rinse with warm water and follow up with a moisturizer such s organic coconut oil.
All of the ingredients in this soothing face cream have therapeutic properties that will nourish and heal your skin.
- ½ cup cocoa butter
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons jojoba oil
- 2 tablespoons sweet almond oil
- 40 drops frankincense oil
- Melt the cocoa butter in a double boiler
- Mix the melted cocoa butter with the coconut oil, jojoba oil and almond oil in a mixing bowl
- Put the bowl in the fridge until it hardens
- Once it is cooled put it in a stand mixer and whip
- Scarpe off the sides with a spatula and continue to whip until well mixed and fluffy
- Add the frankincense and whip again
- Put into glass jars
- Apply to skin as needed
- 10 drops frankincense
- 10 drops lavender
- 10 drops peppermint
Sleepy Time Blend (adults)
- 4 drops marjoram
- 10 drops frankincense
- 10 drops bergamot
- 12 drops roman chamomile
- 12 drops vetiver
- 15 drops lavender
- 10 drops cedarwood
- 4 drops frankincense
- 4 drops marjoram
- 6 drops geranium
- 6 drops clary sage
- 4 drops orange
- 20 drops of lavender
- 20 drops of cypress
- 20 drops of frankincense
Note: When making blends, add the oils to a roller ball container and roll-on as needed.
Tips on Buying the Best Frankincense Oil
If you are looking for the best oil possible, and you should, here are some good shopping tips. Buying the best oil increases its therapeutic value and will ultimately work the best for any condition. Poor quality oils that have been distilled from bad crops, handled improperly or are old or have had other chemicals added. Essential oils that have been adulterated in any form can cause serious side effects.
Wording on Bottles: Some manufacturers use words such as fragrance and perfume. These words don’t denote quality.
Bottles: High-quality oil is generally sold in small (4 ounces or less) dark colored bottles. It is always best to stay away from plastic bottles. Don’t purchase oils sold in aluminum bottles unless they have a liner.
Grade: Both “therapeutic” and “aromatherapy” grade don’t mean anything with regards to quality.
Quality Questions: Whether you purchase your oils online or locally, be sure to ask plenty of questions regarding where the oil was obtained, how long it has been stored. The longer the oils are stored, the more they oxidize and lose their therapeutic value.
Cost: There is a great variation in the cost of oils. Be leery of a distributor who sells all oils for the same price.
Botanical Name: Don’t buy oils from retailers that don’t provide the botanical name or country or origin.
If you are new to essential oils, take the time to get to know each of them. The more you learn about oils, the more you will value their therapeutic powers and the role they can play in keeping you as healthy as possible.
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