Fragrance History Frankincense

Written by Leanna Serras

Frankincense is an aromatic resin that is often used in perfumes and incense. It comes from trees in the Boswellia genus, and there are four specific species that produce what is considered true frankincense. The resin from each of these species of Boswellia are available in various grades which are determined by harvest time. The frankincense resin is sorted by hand to assure quality. Frankincense is also mentioned in the Bible and has a long had a presence throughout history.

How Frankincense is Harvested

Frankincense is harvested by slashing the Boswellia tree bark in a process known as striping. This allows the frankincense resin to seep out and then harden. Each species of tree that produces frankincense produces a slightly different kind of resin. The Boswellia Sacra species in particular is known for its ability to grow in harsh conditions. The trees do not begin to produce resin until they are between eight and ten years old and once they begin producing they are tapped approximately two to three times a year to obtain the resin.

The History of Frankincense

Frankincense has a history dating back thousands of years. It has been traded in Northern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula for approximately five thousand years. Frankincense has also been depicted in ancient Egyptian murals. The ancient Romans and Greeks are also known to have imported large amounts of frankincense resin to burn as incense and use during cremation ceremonies.

Uses of Frankincense

Frankincense is commonly used in aromatherapy and in the making of perfume. It is sometimes also used in skincare products. In order to be used in fragrances, essential oil must be obtained; this is done through steam distillation of the resin. Frankincense is also commonly used in Christian churches in the form of incense. In some countries within Africa and Asia, frankincense resin is used to make traditional medicine. It is said to aid in digestion and be good for the skin. In India, frankincense has been used for many years to heal wounds, treat arthritis, and purify the air. In some cultures, it is thought that burning frankincense in the home will bring good health.

Health Benefits of Frankincense

While frankincense has been used by some cultures in traditional medicine for hundreds of years, modern medical research is being done to find out more about its potential healing properties. Trials are being done with the use of frankincense in treating a number of different ailments including rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, ulcerative colitis, and more. Research is also being done into the use of frankincense in cancer treatments. Yet another study reported that frankincense could potentially relieve anxiety and depression.

Frankincense is often associated with something called myrrh. Myrrh is obtained from Commiphora trees that are also cut to obtain the resin. Both frankincense and myrrh are similar and are often mentioned together.

Additional Frankincense Resources