The Gift of Frankincense
Frankincense, also known as olibanum, is often referred to as the “king of oils” and its very name means “high quality incense.” Historically, it was deemed an exquisite gift, and is most often referenced when the biblical magi of the east offered the gifts of frankincense and myrrh to the Christ child. Frankincense originates from the Middle East and has often been used in various religious practices throughout the centuries as well as Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda, giving evidence to its sacredness in both health and religion. Even its French name, “franc encens,” which means “high quality incense,” demonstrates its historical intent.
Frankincense oil is obtained from tapping the sticky resin of trees of the genus, Boswellia. The resin can be chewed like a gum, but more commonly, it is steam distilled into an essential oil. The essential oil of frankincense has been widely used in aromatherapy and is a common constituent in perfumes, fragrances, diffuser blends, and body care products. Don’t be fooled into thinking its benefits are merely external. On the contrary, the therapeutic potential of this essential oil is one reason it is highly esteemed among health advocates.
A variety of medicinal chemicals reside within the essential oil of frankincense, the most well-known being the family of boswellic acids. These therapeutic compounds provide several health benefits, including the ability to discourage the growth of numerous harmful organisms. As a result, frankincense has been a helpful addition to natural cleaners, dental hygiene products, and facial astringents to prevent the growth of microorganisms. It also helps support the body’s normal defenses against internal fungi, viruses, and unfriendly bacteria that may threaten to compromise health and vitality. The food industry has taken advantage of frankincense’s antimicrobial activity and uses it to naturally inhibit the growth of a dangerous fungal toxin, known as aflatoxin, commonly found on corn, soy, peanuts and other foods.
Not only can frankincense help to constrain harmful microorganisms, but the boswellic acids are also able to support the immune system, thereby creating a strong defense against infections, injury, inflammation, and associated health conditions. Boswellic acids have been studied and found to interact with several cells and enzymes of the immune system so as to promote a healthy response from this critical system when it encounters infections and is dealing with health challenges. Numerous individuals suffer from health conditions associated with an impaired immune system that no longer identifies “friend” or “foe” and frankincense may be helpful in supporting a normal immune response. The immune system is also responsible for establishing a health inflammatory response to injury and illness. Studies have shown boswellic acids can support the action of several enzymes that are involved in these responses to establish a healthy inflammatory response, resulting in better pain management and injury. This dual action of supporting immunity and the inflammatory response makes frankincense an ideal health booster.
Cell Growth and Health
Most recently, there has been an explosion of interest in frankincense’s support for cell health. A normal cell of the human body progresses through a lifecycle that includes growth and reproduction. Some cells, such as those of the skin, grow and reproduce very quickly as old cells die and must be renewed. Other cells, such as those of the brain and nervous system, grow very slowly. Frankincense supports the natural cell lifecycle of each body system and encourages normal cell growth and reproduction. It also helps the body recognize cells that are not growing properly and must be eliminated to ensure optimal health of the entire body.
Frankincense is among the most powerful essential oils with antioxidant properties. By fighting against damaging free radicals, frankincense can offer innumerable health benefits. Free radicals are generated by unhealthy diets, lack of exercise, environmental pollutants, and exposure to harmful electromagnetic fields, among other things. Further, the lack of antioxidant-rich foods in the standard American diet often leaves the body hungry for these critical nutrients. The effects of free radicals are far-reaching and include damage to delicate genetic material and cells of all organ systems, resulting in aging, loss of function, and deteriorating health. The antioxidant power of frankincense can combat free radical damage and provide a hedge of protection against future damage.
In possessing the ability to fight infection, support the immune system, promote a healthy inflammatory response, and combat free radicals, frankincense lives up to its reputation as “king of oils.” Its usefulness not only reaches out to the small aches and pains of everyday life, but also extends to the most serious health challenges. Certainly, frankincense offers the invaluable gift of healing.
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- David Brady