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All About Frankincense

essential oil recipe

It’s fair to say that Frankincense species can be used in place of each other, for the most part. However, for those who want a more targeted approach I want to be sure that you are armed with the information you need to buy the frankincense that is right for you.

Different species of Frankincense

Frankincense is typically steam distilled from the resin of a tree, although CO2 distillation is also used.  The tree is pieced and then sap or “tears” are released from the tree. These tears of resin are collected and distilled. Frankincense has traditionally been used as incense during prayer or mediation. Frankincense is also used in skin care products and is wonderful for aging skin. Also useful in respiratory issues as frankincense can soothe coughs, ease congestion and deepen breathing. Frankincense blends well with citrus and spice scents. The different species of frankincense have similar therapeutic properties but there are a few subtle differences. Let’s take a look at Frankincense.

Boswellia serrata:
Also known as Indian Frankincense and is prized in Ayurvedic medicine. Native to India and North Africa. This oil has light, floral note. Serrata may be useful as an anti-inflammatory and analgesic. If you’re looking for relief from symptoms of inflammatory issues like IBS or rheumatoid arthritis – this is the species to choose.

Boswellia carteri (Sacra):

Perhaps the most sought after frankincense, this oil is harvested from Oman and Somalia. Carteri (sacra) has a deep, warm, resinous scent. The resin from Boswellia carteri (sacra) has been shown to have some anti-cancer activity in laboratory applications. There is conflicting information on whether this translates to the essential oil. Carteri (Sacra) has good antimicrobial properties.  Great for emotional concerns when diffused or used in a bath! Try using this species in yoga or meditation.

Boswellia frereana:

This species also has a light, soft scent. Good for skin care preparations. Also found to have an analgesic effect in laboratory tests with rats (Battaglia). Frankincense frereana is especially prized for its skin rejuvenating properties. When added to a carrier oil it can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles, scars, dry skin and damaged skin, and may help heal a wound or cut. When diffused, Frankincense frereana can support your immune system function. B. frereana is also wonderful to calm and relax your body and uplift your mood.

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There have been some who say that Frankincense sacra and boswellia are the same species. Pleas read the statement below from Robert Tisserand who was kind enough to clarify for us!

Boswellia sacra and Boswellia carteri

In this article it is proposed that Boswellia sacra and Boswellia carteri are different species. It should be noted that two of the article’s authors are Young Living executives; the essential oil samples were provided by Young Living, and the research was funded by Young Living. (It is not stated where the analysis was carried out, but most likely, in Young Living’s own laboratory.) In spite of all this, no conflict of interest was declared in the article. In the eyes of some academics, this could invalidate its findings which, anyway, are speculative. The article does not account for the fact that there can be different chemotypes within the same species – differences in composition do not necessarily indicate different species.

The following authoritative links support the opinion that Boswellia carteri is a synonym for Boswellia sacra:

None of this is definitive – opinions have been divided for many years, and this this will probably continue for some time. For the present, I take the view that the majority opinion is correct.

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