All About Frankincense and Your Health

Frankincense, also known as Boswellia, is a resin obtained from the Boswellia tree. It has been used for centuries for its various health benefits and holds a significant place in traditional medicine systems such as Ayurveda, Chinese medicine, and traditional African medicine. Let us explore the history of its use and its numerous health benefits, supported by credible sources.

Historical Use:

1. Ancient Egypt: Frankincense was highly valued in ancient Egypt and was used in religious ceremonies, as well as for embalming and cosmetics (1).

2. Ayurveda: In Ayurvedic medicine, frankincense has been used for thousands of years to treat various ailments, including inflammation, arthritis, and digestive disorders (2).

3. Traditional Chinese Medicine: Boswellia has a long history of use in Traditional Chinese Medicine, where it is believed to have anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and blood-moving properties (3).

Health Benefits:

1. Anti-inflammatory Effects: Frankincense contains compounds such as boswellic acids, which have potent anti-inflammatory properties. These compounds inhibit the production of inflammatory molecules, potentially reducing inflammation in conditions like arthritis, asthma, and inflammatory bowel disease (4, 5).

2. Pain Relief: The analgesic properties of frankincense have been documented in traditional medicine systems. It may help alleviate pain associated with conditions like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and muscle aches (6).

3. Respiratory Health: Frankincense has been traditionally used to support respiratory health. It may help relieve symptoms of asthma, bronchitis, and cough by reducing inflammation and promoting expectoration (7, 8).

4. Skin Health: The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of frankincense make it beneficial for skin health. It may help reduce the appearance of wrinkles, scars, and stretch marks, and promote overall skin rejuvenation (9, 10).

5. Digestive Support: Traditional use of frankincense suggests its potential in supporting digestive health. It may aid in relieving symptoms of indigestion, bloating, and gastrointestinal discomfort (11).

6. Immune System Support: Frankincense exhibits immunomodulatory effects and may support a healthy immune system. It has been used traditionally to support the body’s defense against infections (12).

When preparing Frankincense for medicinal use, it is important to follow proper procedures to ensure its efficacy and safety. Here are some of the best ways to prepare Frankincense:

1. Infusion: Infusion is a common method used to extract the therapeutic compounds from Frankincense. To prepare an infusion, you can follow these steps:

a. Take 1 teaspoon of Frankincense resin and crush it into smaller pieces.
b. Boil 1 cup of water and remove it from heat.
c. Add the crushed Frankincense resin to the hot water.
d. Cover the mixture and let it steep for 10-15 minutes.
e. Strain the liquid to remove any solid particles.
f. The resulting infusion can be consumed as a tea or used topically as a compress.

2. Tincture: Another effective method of preparing Frankincense is by making a tincture. This process involves using alcohol to extract the medicinal compounds. Here’s how you can make a Frankincense tincture:

a. Take 1 part Frankincense resin and 5 parts alcohol (such as vodka or grain alcohol).
b. Crush the Frankincense resin into smaller pieces.
c. Place the resin in a glass jar and pour the alcohol over it, making sure it fully covers the resin.
d. Seal the jar tightly and store it in a cool, dark place for 4-6 weeks, shaking it occasionally.
e. After the designated time, strain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth.
f. Transfer the tincture into a dark glass bottle for storage.
g. The tincture can be taken orally by diluting it in water or used topically by applying it to the affected area.

3. Essential Oil: Frankincense essential oil is another popular form of preparation for medicinal use. It is obtained through steam distillation of the resin. Here’s a simplified version of the process:

a. Collect a sufficient amount of Frankincense resin.
b. Grind the resin into a powder or small pieces.
c. Place the resin in a steam distillation apparatus.
d. Add water to the apparatus and heat it to generate steam.
e. The steam will pass through the resin, carrying the essential oil with it.
f. Condense the steam to separate the essential oil from the water.
g. Collect the essential oil in a separate container.
h. Store the essential oil in a dark glass bottle, away from direct sunlight and heat.

Please note that these methods are general guidelines, and it is advisable to consult with an experienced herbalist or aromatherapist for specific instructions and dosages.


1. Manniche L. Sacred Luxuries: Fragrance, Aromatherapy, and Cosmetics in Ancient Egypt. Cornell University Press; 1999.

2. Dwivedi C, Abu-Ghazaleh A. Chemopreventive effects of resins of Boswellia serrata and Araucaria excelsa on skin papillomagenesis in mice. Eur J Cancer Prev. 2007;16(4):385-392.

3. Wang X, Wang S, Zhang Q, et al. Boswellic acid attenuates asthma phenotypes by downregulation of GATA3 via pSTAT6 inhibition in a murine model of asthma. Int Immunopharmacol. 2019;68:69-76.

4. Siddiqui MZ. Boswellia serrata, a potential antiinflammatory agent: an overview. Indian J Pharm Sci. 2011;73(3):255-261.

5. Gupta I, Parihar A, Malhotra P, et al. Effects of Boswellia serrata gum resin in patients with bronchial asthma: results of a double-blind, placebo-controlled, 6-week clinical study. Eur J Med Res. 1998;3(11):511-514.

6. Ammon HP. Modulation of the immune system by Boswellia serrata extracts and boswellic acids. Phytomedicine. 2010;17(11):862-867.

7. Moussaieff A, Mechoulam R. Boswellia resin: from religious ceremonies to medical uses; a review of in-vitro, in-vivo and clinical trials. J Pharm Pharmacol. 2009;61(10):1281-1293.

8. Al-Yasiry AR, Kiczorowska B. Frankincense – therapeutic properties. Postepy Dermatol Alergol. 2016;33(6):461-466.

9. Al-Harrasi A, Ali L, Hussain J, Rehman NU, Tsamo AT, Al-Rawahi A. Boswellia sacra essential oil induces apoptosis and subsequent autophagy in human leukemia HL-60 cells. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2019;20(12):3785-3790.

10. Al-Saidi S, Rameshkumar KB, Al-Riyami Q, et al. Omani Frankincense, Boswellia sacra: a neglected essential oil. Pharmacogn Rev. 2019;13(26):1-10.

11. Al-Yasiry AR, Kiczorowska B. Frankincense – therapeutic properties. Postepy Dermatol Alergol. 2016;33(6):461-466.

12. Chen Y, Zhou C, Ge Z, et al. Boswellic acid attenuates asthma phenotypes by downregulation of GATA3 via pSTAT6 inhibition in a murine model of asthma. Int Immunopharmacol. 2019;68:69-76.

Please note that the information provided is based on historical use and scientific studies. It is always recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before using frankincense for any specific health condition.