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Frankincense oil

Frankincense oil: Uses and benefits

23 Nov 2022 • 3 min read


What springs to mind when you think about frankincense? Is it the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh that were given by The Three Wise Men to Jesus Christ? Or maybe it’s a smell that you associate with Christmas?

Many people may be able to recall learning about this biblical event, which is recorded in the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 2:11).1

Biblical references aside, frankincense essential oil is known worldwide as the King of Oils and reportedly has lots of health-related benefits (more on these below).2

It’s for this very reason that it’s been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries.3

Frankincense oil is sourced from the sticky sap of the Bowellia Carterii or Bowellia Sacra tree that can be found in Somalia, Ethiopia, Oman, Yemen, India and China.4

Frankincense goes by several names other than frankincense. They are - Bowellia Carterii, Bowellia Sacra and Olibanum.5

How is it made?

As with most essential oils, frankincense oil is extracted from the tree sap in a number of ways, which usually involves steam distillation. It’s also possible to dry it out and use it in its dried form too.

How long have people been using frankincense for?

Frankincense goes back a long way! It’s said to have been traded in the Middle East and North Africa for more than 5,000 years.

Its roots go so far back that sacks of frankincense appear in the murals that decorate the walls of the temple of Queen Hatshepsut, who once ruled Egypt and died around 480BC.

Meanwhile, in the Holy Bible, frankincense and myrrh were components of the holy incense that were ritually burned in Jerusalem’s sacred temples.6

How can it be used?

There’s so much you can do with frankincense oil. You can:7

1. Apply it

Dilute it with a carrier oil and then apply a few drops to the bottom of your feet or rub it into your pulse points.

You can also add it to your moisturisers, body lotions and other beauty products to get the benefits into your skincare routine.

Pro tip

  • Use ~ 6 drops per ounce for face products
  • Use ~ 12 drops per ounce for body lotions
  • Use ~ 20 drops per ounce for shampoos, hair masks, and products you rinse off

2. Inhale it

Either breathe it in directly from the bottle or sprinkle some droplets on a towel or cloth and pop it under your pillow. You can also breathe it in by lighting some incense sticks.

Pro tip – In aromatherapy, essential oils like frankincense are mixed with other oils. Frankincense blends well with citrus flavours like lemon, lime and wild orange. It also goes well with cypress, lavender, geranium, rose, sandalwood, ylang ylang, and clary sage.

3. Diffuse it

Put some in a diffuser and take in the grounding and calming aroma.

Why not try a couple of our diffuser formulas that mix well with frankincense.

Emotional Wellness

  • 3 drops Copaiba
  • 2 drops Bergamot
  • 2 drops Frankincense

Frankly Relaxing

  • 4 drops Frankincense
  • 3 drops Himalayan Cedarwood
  • 2 drops Lavender

Frankincense oil benefits

Frankincense oil has soothing and cleansing properties, as well as many more qualities. As a result, there are lots of advantages to using it, including these 11 handpicked benefits:8

8 benefits of frankincense

  1. May help reduce feelings of stress

When inhaled, frankincense oil has been shown to possess anti-anxietyproperties.9

It is thought that a component called Boswellia resin has calming effects when burnt. Which is why you are may feel sense of calm when you burn an incense stick.

Handpicked content: 5 essential oils for stress relief and how to use them

  1. Reduces feelings of anxiety

Thanks to its comforting properties it can help calm a busy mind, reducing the feelings of anxiety.

  1. Improve concentration and mood

Much in the same way as it works for stress and anxiety, frankincense can diminish the feelings of stress helping to improve your mood and your concentration.

  1. Can kill harmful germs and bacteria

Frankincense acts as an antiseptic and disinfectant agent that has been known to display antimicrobial effects. It may even be used in place of chemical household cleaners.

Since 1500 BC the combination of frankincense oil and myrrh oil has been used in this way.11 They also make for some great gifts apparently!

  1. May help your immune system

Research carried out at the Mansoura University in Egypt found that frankincense oil can prevent germs and bacteria from forming on your skin, in your mouth or even in your home.12,13

  1. May prevent signs of ageing

According to studies, frankincense may reduce redness and skin sensitivity.

In the same study, frankincense benefits include the ability to strengthen skin and improve its tone, elasticity, defense mechanisms against blemishes, and appearance as someone ages. It may help tone and lift skin.14

  1. May improve memory

Research suggests that frankincense oil can be used to help improve memory.15

  1. May improve relaxation

With the relaxation properties that frankincense possesses, it may be that it can also give you a more restful night’s sleep.

Due to its help with feelings of anxiety and stress, as pointed out above, it is likely that the use of frankincense before bedtime may help you get more rest. 

How to use it safely

Always do a patch test to it make sure it doesn’t irritate your skin and don’t ingest it unless advised by a medical professional.

Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on how to use it.10

4 fun facts about frankincense oil

  1. When burned, it gives off a sweet, citrusy scent and when combined with myrrh, produces a piney, bitter odour.17
  2. Cleopatra is said to have used frankincense oil, in conjunction with geranium oil, as a skin treatment.18
  3. When buying pure frankincense essential oil, check the label for its Latin name, Boswellia Carterii or Boswellia sacra. No other oils ingredients should be listed.19
  4. In ancient history, many believe that frankincense was protected by dragons. Ancient Greek writer Herodotus (5th century B.C.) wrote: “Arabia is the only country which produces frankincense, myrrh, cassia, and cinnamon… the trees bearing. 

We hope you’ve found this guide to frankincense oil useful and hopefully come away wanting to give it a try. Intrigued about the popularity of essential oils? Check out this article, ‘The 7 most popular essential oils.’

The advice in this article is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP or healthcare professional before trying any supplements, treatments or remedies. Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.

Last updated: 2 June 2021



Author: Manisha TaggarSenior Regulatory Affairs Associate

Joined Holland & Barrett: May 2019

BSc Hons in Pharmaceutical & Cosmetic Science

Manisha started her career at a Cosmetics distributor as a Regulatory Technologist followed by a Regulatory Affairs Officer, ensuring the regulatory compliance of cosmetic products from colour cosmetics to skincare.

After 3 and half years in this role, Manisha joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.

Manisha specialises in Cosmetic products, both own-label and branded lines, ensuring that these products and all relating marketing material comply to the EU Cosmetics Regulation.

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