The earliest recorded use of frankincense is found in an inscription on the
tomb of a 15th century BC Egyptian queen named Hathsepsut. Ancient Egyptians
burned frankincense as incense and ground the charred resin into a powder
called kohl. Kohl was used to make the distinctive black eyeliner which is
found in most of the figures in Egyptian art.
Description of Frankincense
The general aromatic profile of frankincense oil derived from Boswellia
sacra/carteri), B. serrata and B. frereana can be characterized by the free
flowing translucent to pale yellow or pale amber liquid displays a very
diffusive, tangy-fresh, sparkling odor containing pine-lemon notes. As the
oil slowly unfolds its unique bouquet, one begins to detect its delicate
sweet, resinous woody undertones. Frankincense essential oil is extracted
from the gum of a North African tree. The tree is medium sized deciduous
tree with ash colored papery bark peeling off in thin flakes. Frankincense
essential oil has a woody, spicy, haunting smell. It is slightly camphoric
but is regarded as more pleasant and is very useful in dealing with many of
the symptoms of distress and panic.
: Fresh, woody, balsamic, slightly spicy and
: Light yellow
Frankincense oil has various
chemical compounds that include pinene, actanol, linalool, octyl acetate,
bornyl acetate, incensole and incensyl acetate.
: Tapping of the bark yield the oleo-resin
Aromatherapy massages using frankincense essential oil at the face, neck
and scalp may provide effective relief for tension headaches. The most
important effect of the essential oil may be on the nervous system. Regarded
as an antidepressant, the aroma can both relax and revitalize and can help
in cases of nervous tension and exhaustion. Frankincense oil contains
sesquiterpenes which stimulate the limbic system, the hypothalamus, the
pineal and the pituitary glands. A warm bath with a few drops of
frankincense oil is counteracts the effects of nightmares and sudden fears.
This oil is rejuvenating to the skin, treating acne, bacterial and fungal
infections and to treat wounds and scars. It is used in cosmetics, soaps and
perfumes. It helps in overcoming or eradicating problems which is related to
anxiety, asthma, bronchitis, extreme coughing, scars, stress and stretch
marks. It can be used in a manner similar to burning of the incense in
spiritual practice. Warming in a candle lamp or direct application to the
temples and third eye will quiet the mind, deepen the breath and promote
meditative stillness. Frankincense oil can be used to promote and assist
with skin rejuvenation and reducing inflammation in acne skin preparations.
With hair car products, frankincense oil is ideal for dry hair formulations
along with dry and mature skin formulations also.
With a relaxing aroma, Frankincense is perfect for creating a serene
ambiance and balancing the emotions when burning. It is used in following
- The fresh gum is chewed for strengthing the teeth and gums, to
stimulate digestion and to combat halitosis.
- Small pieces of gum are mixed with salt and inserted into painful
- Fresh pieces of gum are in treatment of fractures. The broken limb is
treated by splinting it between two pieces of frankincense bark smeared
with fresh frankincense gum. As the gum drys it hardens which creates a
rigid case to support the broken limb.
- In the case of inflammation for both man and beast, frankincense gum
is boiled in milk until a thick paste is formed, when it is applied to
the affected part.
- The smoke from the burning gum is considered to have powerful
curative and protective properties. Sick humans or domesticated animals
are customarily fumigated with incense.
In Dhofar and all the Middle East, frankincense is one of the most
prominent fragrances. Wooden fumigating tripods are used to perfume and
fumigate clothing. A special incense burner is placed at the base and
clothes are layered above. It is distilled and extracted to yield essential
oil, resinoid and absolute. Frankinscence is valued for its distinct
oriental notes as well as fixative qualities. In Oman, a very costly perfume
is prepared using these aromatic oils. It is called Amourage and enjoys and
international reputation. It is also used to prepare a hair oil which helped
fix the hair tight against the head and give it a gleaming appearance. A
special talcum powder is prepared by frankinscence due to its pleasant
Frankinscence has been used in a mixture with pitch, sulfur, sawdust and
tow, to smear on the end of staves which are very hard to extinguish.Used to
patch broken vessels as it becomes a pliable water sealant. Clay and wooden
water vessels are regularly purified with frankincense smoke. After being
cleaned and scrubbed frankincense burners are lowered into them and the
vessels sealed so that the smoke thoroughly permeates the vessels. As soon
as the burners are removed fresh water is poured in and the vessels once
again thoroughly covered.
A dye is prepared from the red-colored underbark to dye cloth.
The dyed cloth turned out a rich red-brown which was a favorite amongs the
indigenous people living in drier regions. The bark is also used in the
tanning process to help turn leather a rich mahagony red color. The bark
when ground to a pasteis used to scrub the insides of leather water bags
which have become tainted or smelly until the leather is once again smooth
and supple and all maliferous odors are removed. The bark when ground to a
paste is used to scrub the insides of leather water bags which have become
tainted or smelly until the leather is once again smooth and supple and all
maliferous odors are removed.
Frankinscence is also used in making incence and perfumery.