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What Is Frankincense Essential Oil Good for: Uses, Benefits, and Side Effects

Frankincense essential oil comes from the resin of the boswellia tree, which is native to the mountainous regions of India, Africa, and the Middle East. Traditionally, the oil is extracted by pressing or steaming the plant. The oil is then either steeped in tea, absorbed through the skin, inhaled, or taken as a supplement.

There are claims that frankincense has a variety of potential benefits including anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and even anticancer properties. There hasn’t been enough research to support these claims, though. You should always consult a doctor before taking any supplements, including frankincense. 

Frankincense is believed to have anti-inflammatory effects because certain compounds that make up the essential oil work by inhibiting lipoxygenase, which is responsible for mediating inflammation.

Some studies have reported that frankincense can decrease inflammation in arthritis. However, many of these studies either did not have many participants or did not meet rigorous research standards, indicating further research has to be done.

Frankincense may work to ease asthma symptoms by inhibiting leukotrienes, which constrict the bronchial muscles. One study in 1998 reported that patients had fewer asthma attacks and better scores on lung function tests after being treated with frankincense resin. In another study in 2012, frankincense and licorice were used to treat 54 asthma patients. Asthma attacks were reduced and lung function scores were increased; however, licorice turned out to be better at improving symptoms than frankincense.

Some studies said that frankincense’s anti-inflammatory properties may also be able to help the gut as well. In a study involving patients with ulcerative colitis, frankincense was reported to improve symptoms about as well as sulfasalazine, a medication commonly used to treat the disease. Similar results were found in a study of patients with Crohn’s disease, comparing frankincense with mesalazine. These results seem promising, but most of these studies had small sample sizes and nonsignificant or inconclusive results.

Studies show that frankincense may work as an antiseptic and antimicrobial because it contains phenolic acid, which can reduce mild infections.

In lab studies, boswellic acid was effective at fighting off bacteria associated with cavities, gingivitis, and periodontal disease. In a study done with 75 high school students, frankincense was shown to improve the symptoms of gingivitis and decrease the swelling associated with the disease. However, more clinical trials are needed to demonstrate any conclusive results.

One study shows that compounds in frankincense can stop the cell life cycle, inhibit growth, and affect programmed cell death. Because of these properties, researchers are studying the effect of frankincense on cancer cells. In one study, frankincense was shown to suppress the growth of cancerous cells and not that of normal cells. This study showed that frankincense may be able to differentiate between cancerous cells and healthy ones. Similar results were found in another study involving breast cancer cells. Despite the positive results, it’s important to note that these studies are only on isolated cells. The human body is extremely complex, and more research about frankincense needs to be done before its safety and efficacy can be determined. 

Frankincense essential oil is often found in skin care products, claiming that it will smooth, tighten, and firm the skin. However, there is little evidence to support these claims.

Here are a couple of the ways people use frankincense. While using essential oils in aromatherapy is typically safe, it’s important to talk to your doctor before consuming any supplements.

If you’re in a public place or live with other people, be careful of using a diffuser. Spreading the fragrance over a large area may cause reactions or adverse effects in people who are allergic. You can also try necklaces, bracelets, and sticks for aromatherapy. 

Carrier oils, such as coconut, olive, or jojoba oil are often used to dilute essential oils for skin care. When used at full strength, essential oils may cause skin irritation. Claims that frankincense can be beneficial for skin have not been supported by research.

Essential oils are not regulated and may contain other products that are not listed on the bottle. Because of this, it’s important not to ingest essential oils.

  • You may be able to find the species name for the plant, the purity percentage, country of origin, and additional ingredients on the label.
  • Pure essential oils are often packaged in dark-colored glass jars.
  • Fragrance oils are likely mixed with chemicals or made completely from chemicals.

Some people may have an allergic reaction to essential oils. This is more likely for people with a history of adverse reactions to topical products or dermatitis. If irritation does occur, stop using it and consult a doctor. Because essential oils aren’t regulated and there hasn’t been enough research to support their efficacy and safety, people who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use essential oils.

Certain compounds in frankincense oil may be able to alleviate symptoms associated with certain conditions. However, more research needs to be done to determine the safety and efficacy of this product. Essential oils are not regulated, so it’s important to be cautious. Always talk to a doctor before trying frankincense or any other supplement or essential oil.













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