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Frankincense Essential Oil (Olibanum)
Frankincense is also known as Olibanum.
Frankincense is a tree resin that has been used and valued since ancient times for its medicinal, cosmetic, aromatic and spiritual applications. In Christianity, Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh were the gifts given to the baby Jesus by the three wise men.
Frankincense Essential Oil is used most often for spiritual, perfumery and incense /room fragrancing applications but is useful as an expectorant and sometimes is used in respiratory and cough formulations.
Frankincense Oil is steam distilled from frankincense resin. Frankincense Essential Oil smells sweeter, cleaner and fresher than the resin, and more people prefer the aroma of the essential oil to that of the resin.
I adore the aroma of Frankincense Essential Oil and include it in room fragrancing, incense and spiritual blends all year round.
Emotionally, I find the aroma to be grounding, calming and relaxing without being sedating. The aroma is woody, earthy and also has a slightly fruity/sweet, warm, spicy attitude to it. The country of origin and quality of the frankincense tears play a big part in the overall aroma of the essential oil.
Common Method of Extraction
Plant Part Typically Used
Strength of Initial Aroma
Mild - Medium
Fresh, woody, balsamic, slightly spicy and fruity.
Frankincense Oil Uses
Anxiety, asthma, bronchitis, extreme coughing, scars, stress, stretch marks. [Julia Lawless, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils (Rockport, MA: Element Books, 1995), 59-67.]
There is a great deal of risky and inaccurate information being propagated about the applications of Frankincense Essential Oil in cancer treatment and prevention. For more information, read Frankincense Oil and Cancer in Perspective by essential oil expert Robert Tisserand.
[L. Hall, Chemotaxonomical Investigation of Frankincense Producing Boswellia spp. from Somalia and a Quest for Quality Standards. (Thesis. University of Strathclyde, 2000). Source cited in Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young, Essential Oil Safety (Second Edition. United Kingdom: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, 2014), 287-288.]
Tisserand and Young precaution to avoid use of the oil if it has oxidized. Skin sensitization is more likely when using oxidized Frankincense Oil. Reading Tisserand and Young's full profile is recommended. [Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young, Essential Oil Safety (Second Edition. United Kingdom: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, 2014), 287-289.]
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The essential oil information provided on AromaWeb is intended for educational purposes only. This data is not considered complete and is not guaranteed to be accurate. The oil photos are intended to represent the typical and approximate color of each essential oil. However, oil color can vary based on harvesting, distillation and other factors. Profiles for several absolutes are included within the directory, and are denoted as such.
General Safety Information
Do not take any oils internally and do not apply undiluted essential oils, absolutes, CO2s or other concentrated essences onto the skin without advanced essential oil knowledge or consultation from a qualified aromatherapy practitioner. If you are pregnant, epileptic, have liver damage, have cancer, or have any other medical problem, use oils only under the proper guidance of a qualified aromatherapy practitioner. Use extreme caution when using oils with children. It is safest to consult a qualified aromatherapy practitioner before using oils with children. For in-depth information on oil safety issues, read Essential Oil Safety by Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young.
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