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Frankincense Now, Myrrh Later
By Maisha Liwaru
Frankincense is the progenitor of the incense we use today. It has been traded
for at least 5000 years. But not only is frankincense used as incense but it
also has aromatherapy properties, medicinal properties and of course it is used
as a perfume. It is also known as olibanum, olibano, liban and encens male.
Frankincense and its significant other, myrrh are both oleoresin derived from
the sap of a tree.
When a frankincense tree is cut or injured it “bleeds” a liquid to heal itself.
The liquid takes on a soft rock form, which is a resin. There is oil in the
rock. The rock is sometimes called tears, which are approximately 65% gum, 30%
resin and 4% essential oil. This explains the expense of essential frankincense
oil. Each tree only yields a small amount of oil.
Frankincense trees originated in Southern Arabia but now grow naturally in Yemen
and Oman. This is the Frankincense Belt. It is also cultivated in Somalia and
India. Boswellia carteri frankincense is cultivated in Somalia, Boswellia sacra
in Yemen and Oman and Baswellia serrata in India. There is only a slight
variation in scent. Today, as in years past, frankincense, regardless of its
origin is a valued commodity.
The old Frankincense Trade Route was more than 2,000 miles long and is the
oldest known trade route. During ancient times, frankincense was considered more
valuable than gold. The route included Egypt. Invention camels laden with gold
and frankincense loping along with their shadows cast on rolling mounds of sand.
Their human companions guide and ride them with robes billowing in the
occasional breeze of the desert. Traders made fortunes in the trade of
frankincense and that continues today.
Frankincense is used as a resin, powder incense, and essential oil. As a resin
it is burned over charcoal and in Iran it is chewed like gum. It has several
known healing properties. Some uses have been cancer treatment, abdominal tumor
treatment, as a sedative and tonic, as an astringent and as a stimulant. Burn
frankincense rock on charcoal for an excellent expectorant. Frankincense from
India is used to treat arthritis. Other uses have been to disinfect, kill
bacteria, heal wounds and renew cells. Arab and African Muslims of old used
frankincense to lower fever and fight off infections. Frankincense essential oil
is used to slow wrinkling, but remember it must be used with carrier oil such as
Emu Oil. Recently, there has been renewed interest in the healing potential of
There have been two university studies on the properties of frankincense. One
reportedly proved that frankincense is an effective treatment against rheumatism
and the other proved that frankincense reduces infections. Part of it’s value is
due to its’ versatility.
Because of its purity many religious groups use it in their religious
ceremonies. It does not violate any prohibitions and is not derived by
prohibited means. Some people have even claimed that frankincense can rid the
home of evil sprits. This kind of usage gives frankincense power, but if has no
such power. Frankincense may get this reputation because it helps to relieve
obsessions, fears, and anxieties. Frankincense has a sweet scent that is spicy
and at the same time woody. Its scent is very calming, relaxing and uplifting.
It blends well and smells wonderful.
Next time, massage oil recipes for all occasions.
Maisha Liwaru is the owner of
Perfume Oils by Maisha.