Revival of Interest in Essential Oils like Frankincense (Boswellia)

by OCLC’s Herbal and Essential Oil blogger, Gwenn

Essential Oils (EOs) have become an increasingly popular topic in the world of holistic healing. Although their use dates back to antiquity, there is currently a significant revival of interest and research into the global varieties of essential oils (EOs). Historically, ancient Egypt is credited with being the first to use essential oils as perfumes and medicines. There is clear evidence of this found in the excavated tombs. The oils themselves were preserved in alabaster jars.  Many “recipes” / formulas were preserved in hieroglyphics.  Evidence points to the inclusion of EOs  in courtship and dating, marriage ceremonies, funerary services, religious rituals, and healing medicines.  However, the use of essential oils was not exclusive to the ancient Egyptians. There is also substantial evidence that ancient China, Greece, Rome, Arabia, and Israel also placed significant value on the use of EOs.  The rising popularity of EOs in modern times is no surprise. From the perfume industry to use in medical surgery, Essential Oils are fascinating and practical.

Essential Oils used in aromatherapy. Photo credit: Naomi King / Foter / CC BY

Essential Oils used in aromatherapy. Photo credit: Naomi King / Foter / CC BY

Here are some general characteristics of EOs:

  • They are “volatile” liquids that are distilled from plants. “Volatile” means that they evaporate easily into the air.
  • Parts of plants that can be used to produce the EOs are seeds, bark, leaves, stems, roots, flowers and fruit.
  • The quality of EOs can vary greatly, from less pure grades used in perfumes to the highest quality pure therapeutic grade oils used in holistic healthcare.
  • EOs have regenerating, oxygenating and immune-strengthening properties associated with their specific plant sources.
  • EOs affect every cell of the body within 20 minutes of use and are metabolized like other foods.
  • EOs are very powerful antioxidants.
  • EOs are used to rebalance emotional states and promote healing.
  • EOs can be diffused into the air (aromatic), used topically (lotions, bath salts, shampoos, etc.), or ingested IF they are food grade and approved by the specific manufacturer. DO NOT ingest an Essential Oil unless it is specifically stated GRAS (generally recognized as safe).  When in doubt, consult a qualified licensed healthcare practitioner.
  • EOs can be used cosmetically, medicinally and magically.

One of the most common and most sacred aromatics used from ancient to modern times is Frankincense ( Boswellia fereana, Boswellia thurifera, Boswellia carterii). Frankincense is also known as “Olibanum”.  It is from the family Burseraceae, which are resinous trees and shrubs growing in southern Arabia. The most common forms of Frankincense are resin beads which are burned like incense, or liquid Essential Oil that is dispensed with a dropper.


Olibanum Resin.


Historically, Frankincense was and is still considered a “holy oil” in religious practices of the Middle East. It is used to enhance connection and communication with the Divine Source. For the Druids, it was and still is associated with Mean Geimhridh (Myawn GEV-ree) —- Winter Solstice / Yule. Frankincense is considered sacred to the Sun God Ra. It can be burned in rites of exorcism, purification and protection. Frankincense is said to accelerate spiritual growth. Mixing Frankincense with Sandalwood enhances the potency of each and the intensity of the purpose for which they are used.

In holistic medicine, Frankincense is considered to have one of the highest vibrations. Body systems affected by the use of Frankincense are the immune system, nervous system, skin, and the emotional body. Frankincense is ANTI: bacterial, catarrhal, depressant, fungal, infectious, inflammatory, microbial, parasitic, septic, tumor, and viral. Its application extends to more intense health conditions where it is used to diminish Alzheimer’s Disease, brain injuries, burns, Cancer/s, depression, Hepatitis, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, MRSA, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, and ulcers.

Both the allopathic medical community and the traditional herbal-based community are impressed and amazed by the qualities of Frankincense. It is no longer a wonder why the ancients held it as one of the most valuable and sacred substances. This season of Winter Solstice / Yule try Frankincense resin beads or Essential Oil for yourself. Burn it to clear out negative energies. Blend it with Basil, Citrus, Lavender, Patchouli or Sandalwood oils to focus energy, improve your concentration, or enhance your meditation practice. Frankincense can help us be fully in present time so we can enjoy and appreciate this special season.

This information is for educational purposes only.  It is not meant to replace the consultation of a licensed health-care professional.  This author and CoG-OCLC are not to be held responsible for the use or mis-use of the information contained within this blog.


The Complete Aromatherapy & Essential Oils Handbook for Everyday Wellness
Nerys Purchon and Lora Cantele
Robert Rose Publishers, Inc.  2014,  Pgs. 12 – 19, 59

A Druid’s Herbal for the Sacred Earth Year
Ellen Evert Hopman
Destiny Books, 1995. Pgs. 17, 35, 59, 79, 142, 145

Modern Essentials: A Contemporary Guide to the Therapeutic Use of Essential Oils, 4th Edition.  AromaTools.  Orem, Utah, 2012, Pgs. 6 – 12, 58 – 59

Photo Credits

Essential Oils. Photo credit: <a href=””>Naomi King</a> / <a href=””>Foter</a> / <a href=””>CC BY</a>

Frankincense. Photo credit: <a href=””>Foter</a> / <a href=””>CC BY-SA</a>

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  1. hocuspocus13 on November 25, 2014 at 3:35 am

    Reblogged this on hocuspocus13 and commented:
    jinxx xoxo

  2. Eily Nash on November 25, 2014 at 6:12 am

    I love Frankincense, burn the resin, use it in aromatheraphy lotions and facial mists and the oil as a perfume…Mmmm.

  3. Owls and Orchids on November 25, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    Thank you for such a concise description of hoe EO’s can be used and their effects. I’m now hot on the trail of some good quality Frankincense to use this Christmas ?

  4. Owls and Orchids on November 25, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    Reblogged this on Owls and Orchids and commented:
    A beautiful description of the great use of Essential Oils and their history. If you love EO’s you must read this. A great Christmas idea.
    Blessings Susan ?

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