Frankincense (Olibanum) Oil Benefits, Uses, and Precautions

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Frankincense Oil BenefitsFrankincense oil, also called olibanum, is an essential oil that offers a number of health benefits. Frankincense oil has a number of uses and is used in a variety of ways.

Olibanum comes from the Boswellia sacra tree in the Boswellia genus, where it’s extracted from the bark and processed into a resin. Grown mainly in Oman, Yemen, Somalia and Ethiopia, frankincense was traditionally used as incense. These days, however, the oil is more popular because it offers more health benefits.

Frankincense comes in various qualities, with the highest grade appearing almost clear, with slight green and silver tinges. This is rather uncommon to find, since the majority of frankincense sold globally is brown and yellow. When diffused, frankincense oil creates a calming and relaxing feeling, while providing a woodsy, earthy, spicy, and partly fruity aroma.

Frankincense oil is a very valuable and versatile essential oil. In this article, we will highlight the health benefits of frankincense essential oil. We’ll also discuss how to use frankincense oil and the possible side effects of this essential oil.

Health Benefits of Frankincense Oil

As with most essential oils, there are a number of frankincense essential oil benefits. It can be diffused or applied independently, or it can be combined with other essential oils to enhance its effects. If you own an essential oil diffuser or vaporizer, it should definitely be part of your collection.

The benefits of frankincense oil include anti-inflammatory effects and astringent, antiseptic, and disinfectant capabilities.

Frankincense oil can also act as a digestive and diuretic aid when taken orally. Here are some specific benefits of frankincense essential oil:

Arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and other pain disorders: 

Because frankincense is an anti-inflammatory, it benefits people with arthritis. Research indicates it suppresses production of powerful inflammatory molecules, which helps maintain the integrity of cartilage in people with arthritis. There is also evidence that frankincense oil can be an effective pain killer for people with arthritis. Because frankincense oil can prevent the breakdown of cartilage tissue, it is a good natural treatment for any pain-related condition that affects your tendons, joints, and muscles. It can also treat painful disorders such as asthma and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Cold, flu, and bronchitis: 

Inhaling frankincense oil through a diffuser or vaporizer, or even from a cloth, can break up phlegm deposits in your lungs and throat when you’re congested. The antiseptic, disinfectant, and antimicrobial properties in frankincense essential oil can help eliminate germs and bacteria that cause the common cold, flu, and other respiratory problems. A study published in the journal Letters in Applied Microbiology in 2012 found the combination of myrrh oil and frankincense oil to be effective against pathogens, including Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Cryptococcus neoformans.

Oral hygiene: 

Frankincense oil provides a number of benefits for oral health. Its antiseptic capabilities can help prevent bad breath and stave off cavities. As an anti-inflammatory, it can help battle toothaches, while its disinfectant qualities allow it to be an effective topical treatment for sores around the mouth.

Digestive benefits: 

When ingested, frankincense oil has been found to offer unique digestive properties that can help speed up the release of gastric juices to promote the movement of food through the intestines. Its diuretic effects also help to dispel toxins and excess nutrients that may be circulating in your system. Research shows that the boswellic acids in frankincense oil can decrease symptoms of Crohn’s disease, chronic colitis, ulcerative colitis, leaky gut syndrome, and irritable bowel syndrome, which often include nausea, stomach cramping and pain, and bloating.


When applied topically to your skin, frankincense oil can stimulate cell growth. Its cytophylactic properties can therefore promote the regeneration of skin cells while keeping existing cells healthy. It might even help remove sunspots and tighten small wrinkles around the eyes and cheeks.

Calming and relaxation:

Frankincense oil can be diffused or vaporized to create a tranquil environment. Because of this, it can be effective in calming nerves to treat stress, anxiety, and depression while also reducing high blood pressure and heart rate. One 2008 study confirmed the anti-depressive effects of burning Boswellia resin as incense. For the study, an incense component called incensole acetate was found to elicit psychoactivity by activating TRPV3 channels in the brain.

Skin care:

There are frankincense oil benefits for skin as well. As a topical ointment, it can provide the benefit of reducing dark spots caused from acne, sun spots, cracked skin, surgery marks, and stretch marks associated with pregnancy. It may also help battle eczema and diminish the presence of scars. Another benefit of frankincense oil for skin is that it can heal wounds, and strengthen and improve the elasticity and tone of your skin. A review published in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine in 2013 found that frankincense oil reduces redness and skin irritation, and also benefits skin tone. It is the steroid-like structure of frankincense oil that helps reduce skin irritation.

Improves memory:

Memory loss often increases with age, and may not be cause for concern. However, progressive memory loss due to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can be a serious problem. Other symptoms may include mood swings, confusion, disorientation, loss of judgment, and paranoia. Research from 2013 suggests that frankincense essential oil taken during pregnancy can significantly increase the power of learning, and long-term and short-term memory of the rat’s offspring.

Promotes sleep:

If you have trouble falling asleep or sleeping through the night, frankincense may be the right remedy for you. It is able to reduce levels of anxiety and chronic stress that can prevent you from sleeping at night. The calming scent of frankincense can allow you to naturally fall asleep. Frankincense also helps open the airways of your lungs, and helps your body to eliminate pain that can keep you from getting to sleep.

May help balance hormones and improve fertility:

Frankincense essential oil may decrease symptoms linked with menopause and menstruation by balancing hormone levels. It has been used to combat symptoms such as mood swings, cramps, pain, fatigue, nausea, anxiety, constipation, and headaches. It also regulates menstrual cycles in women yet to go through menopause. Frankincense essential oil may also regulate estrogen production and lower the risk of uterine cyst or tumor development in premenopausal women. Animal studies indicate that frankincense oil promotes fertility due to its similar chemical structure to steroids. When used internally on rats, frankincense oil had increased fertility and the number of viable fetuses and implantations, and this suggests this oil may increase the density and motility of sperm.

Helps boost immunity and prevents illness:

Research shows that frankincense has immune-boosting, antiseptic, antibacterial, and immune-stimulant abilities that may destroy viruses, bacteria, and even cancers. Frankincense oil can also prevent mouth problems, including bad breath, gingivitis, toothaches, mouth sores, cavities, and other oral infections. The boswellic acids in frankincense oil have been found to boost the immune system. Studies also reveal that frankincense helps improve T-cell interactions—a part of the immune system that responds to foreign substances in the body. Frankincense oil also boosts immunoglobulins, which are antibodies that fight viruses and bacteria.

May help fight cancer and reduce chemotherapy side effects:

Frankincense oil benefits cancer cell death and reduces chemotherapy side effects, according to research. A number of lab and animal studies have confirmed the anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory effects of frankincense essential oil. A study published in the journal Oncology Letters in 2013 found that myrrh and frankincense essential oils displayed anticancer activity on human breast and skin cancer cell lines. A 2012 study also found that a chemical compound in frankincense called AKBA (Acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid) can effectively kill cancer cells that have become resistant to chemotherapy, and this makes frankincense essential oil a potential natural treatment for cancer. Research also shows that the pentacyclic triterpenoids in frankincense oil can reduce the growth of human prostate cancer cell lines. The anti-inflammatory effects of frankincense oil have also been studied in brain tumor patients, and the oil has reduced peritumoral brain edema by 22% to 48%. A report also showed that 3,600 mg daily of frankincense oil had reduced the fluid around the tumor by an average of 30% in eight of 12 patients with malignant glioma, while brain damage had also decreased during this treatment.

How to Use Frankincense Oil

Essential oils, like olibanum, offer their benefits in a number of ways. Frankincense oil can be used for aromatherapy through a diffuser or vaporizer; as a topical ointment to be applied directly, or in combination with other ingredients on an affected area; it can be added to bath water for a soak; and it can even be ingested orally in small amounts.

It can be used in combination with other essential oils and remedies. Here are various ways you can use frankincense oil:

  • For stress relief: For stress relief, burn olibanum in a diffuser or vaporizer; or soak in a frankincense oil-induced warm bath.
  • To fight wrinkles: As a skin product to battle wrinkles or blemishes, or even to promote healing of wounds, apply olibanum as a topical cream or soak in a bath.
  • For oral health benefits: Frankincense oil can be consumed in a tea and swished around the mouth to provide oral health benefits.
  • To treat congestion: You can inhale the frankincense oil through a vaporizer, diffuser, or from a cloth to treat congestion.
  • To treat pain and inflammation: For pain, try massaging frankincense oil onto your painful area, or diffuse the oil with a diffuser. For topical use, combine several drops with a carrier oil. You can also add a drop of frankincense oil to steaming water and soak a towel in this solution. Then, place the towel over your face to inhale it to reduce muscle pain. You can also add five drops of frankincense essential oil to a tablespoon of almond oil, and apply this to your joints. Also apply a few drops of frankincense oil to your palms and rub them together.
  • To boost immunity and fight cold and flu: For colds, the flu, and relief from coughing, add a few drops to a cloth and inhale, or use a diffuser. You can also combine a drop of frankincense oil with a teaspoon of honey and coconut oil. Use this method one to two times weekly. In addition, you can place a drop of frankincense oil under your tongue.
  • To treat indigestion: For gastrointestinal relief, add one to two drops of essential oil to eight ounces of filtered water, or to a tablespoon of raw honey. Never ingest an essential oil that is not 100% pure, therapeutic-grade essential oil, or without the guidance of a certified aromatherapist.

Is Frankincense Oil Safe to Use?

For the most part, frankincense oil is very safe to use and there are no documented cases of serious adverse reactions. Of course, like anything else, it may cause reactions in some people. It’s unlikely any adverse reaction you’d experience would be anything more than a slight rash on the skin, which might indicate an allergy or some sort of sensitivity. For the vast majority of people, however, frankincense oil is completely safe and well tolerated.

When ingesting any essential oil, you will want to ingest just a few drops at a time in water, to be on the safe side. For essential oils like frankincense oil, you will also want to do a spot test to check for sensitivity and confirm how your skin reacts to the essential oil. You will also need to take frankincense oil with a carrier oil such as jojoba oil, coconut oil, almond oil, or avocado oil.

Side Effects of Frankincense Oil

When it comes to essential oils, you really don’t need to use large amounts. Therefore, when you burn an oil in a diffuser or vaporizer, always follow the dosage instructions. When you add it to a bath, you also don’t need much. Dilute the frankincense oil with honey and only add a couple of drops to get the benefit.

The same goes for when you’re using it as a topical rub or a facial steam. For a rub, add a few drops to an existing moisturizer before you apply it. For a face steam, add one or two drops of oil to the hot water before leaning over with your towel.

If you have trouble with blood clotting or take blood thinners, frankincense may cause your blood to thin, so you might want to avoid it. If you have such a condition, talk to your doctor prior to use.

Final Thoughts on Frankincense Oil

Frankincense essential oil is made from the Boswellia sacra tree, and it is extracted from the bark and then made into a resin. There are astringent, anti-inflammatory, disinfectant, and antiseptic properties of frankincense essential oil.

There are also several benefits of frankincense essential oil, as studies suggest it can be used to treat arthritis; boost immunity; promote oral health; improve memory; balance hormones and improve fertility; promote digestion; fight cancer and reduce chemotherapy side effects; promote sleep; and treat stress, anxiety, and depression.

How do you use frankincense essential oil? It can be used in a number of ways. Add a few drops to a diffuser, use it topically, add it to bath water, or ingest it orally in small amounts.

Also read:

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