Frankincense essential oil

Frankincense essential oil information

Frankincense essential oil information

General Information

Common Name: Frankincense

Scientific Name: Boswellia carteril

Family: Burseraceae

Origin: Somalia, Western Ethiopia, Western India, Saudi Arabia

Synonyms: Olibanum


Essential Oil Properties and Characteristics

Frankincense oil is a pale-yellow or pale-amber-greenish mobile liquid with a strongly diffusive odour. The odour is fresh and terpene-like with a subtle green-lemon note.

Origin and History

Frankincense, also known as olibanum, is a natural oleo-gum-resin formed from the physiological exude from the bark of various Boswellia species. The most commonly used species are as follows:

  • B. sacra - from Oman, Yemen and southern Saudi Arabia

  • B. Carteri Birdwood - from Somalia

  • B. frereana Birdwood - from Somalia

  • B. papyifera - from western Ethiopia

  • B. serrata - from western India

The major frankincense-producing countries are Somalia and Ethiopia. The resin is collected by making incisions into the bark. A milky-white liquid appears which then solidifies into amber or orange-brown crystals of resin. The resin is sorted and graded. The age, appearance, moisture level and odour characteristics determine the quality of the oil.

Method of Extraction

Frankincense oil is produced from the steam distillation of the resin of various boswellia species. A resinoid absolute of frankincense is also produced for the perfume industry by solvent extraction.

Precautions During Use (Contraindications)

Frankincense oil has been reported to be non-toxic, non-irritant and non-sensitising.

Therapeutic properties

Frankincense essential oil is a lovely warming essential oil for tired muscles and for soothing everyday aches and pains. The balancing, rejuvenating and skin tonic properties of frankincense essential oil make it useful to help maintain good circulation and optimise healthy digestion when used in a massage oil.

Frankincense essential oil blends well with geranium, lavender, orange, vetivert, bergamot, lime, lemon and basil.

Source: Battaglia, S. The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy, Second Edition, The International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy, 2003, ISBN 0-6464-2896-9