4 SURPRISING HEALTH BENEFITS OF FRANKINCENSE TODAY, AND WHY IT WAS A PRECIOUS GIFT FROM THE THE THREE WISEMEN
Frankincense, one of the precious gifts the wisemen brought from a foreign land to give the baby Jesus, has always been a magical and somewhat mysterious part of the traditional nativity story. As I imagine the wise men gathered around their new born King at the nativity scene, I can’t help but wonder, why did they choose to gift Frankincense, an aromatic resin, to their King? What about Frankincense made it so valuable back then? Is it still valuable today?
For thousands of years across the Arab Peninsula and North Africa, Frankincense had been traded as an incense and was typically quite pricey. The word Frankincense or “franc encens” literally means “high quality incense” in old French. It is mainly harvested by cutting incisions in the bark of Boswellia Carterii or Boswellia sacra trees, and letting the sap ooze out of the bark, eventually drying into droplets of hard resin. These trees are typically found in North-East Africa and produce different grades of resin depending on the soil quality and climate where they are grown. The highest quality grade of resin comes from the Boswellia trees in Somalia.
Traditionally, Frankincense has been touted to heal skin and digestion ailments. High grade Frankincense was either ingested as a whole, or chewed like gum and its juices ingested. In traditional Indian medicine, it was used to heal sores, cure arteritis, balance hormones, and purify the air from possible infections. Egyptians used it in their eyeliner and skin care. Arabian, Indian, and East African cultures burned it daily in their homes to bring everyone in their household good health. It is no wonder that Frankincense was also used as a purifying agent in temples and religious places of worship by many Christian churches. Additionally, for centuries, the Abrahamic faiths used Frankincense mixed with oils to anoint newborn infants as they entered into a new phase in their spiritual journey.
Today, Frankincense, also known as olibanum, is typically used in the Western world as an essential oil and is often incorporated into aromatherapy practices. Although Frankincense is not as common as in ancient times, it is still quite pricy today because of its wide range of extraordinary health benefits.
TOP HEALTH BENEFITS OF FRANKINCENSE
FRANKINCENSE RELIEVES STRESS AND ANXIETY
In a 2008 study, researchers found that Frankincense reduced depression and anxiety in mice because of a chemical compound in the substance called incensole acetate. So when you start to feel overwhelmed and need to relax, put a few drops of Frankincense essential oil in your diffuser or in a warm bath. Not only can it put your anxious mind at ease, but many people also believe it can increase your intuition and spiritual connections.
FRANKINCENSE ACTS AS A NATURAL SLEEP AID
In addition to its calming scent, Frankincense’s pine-like lemon balm aroma, helps to open up the lungs’ passageways, which allows your body to reach the necessary temperature for sleep. This not only helps you more readily fall asleep, but also is essential in helping you stay asleep throughout the night.
FRANKINCENSE REDUCES INFLAMMATION AND PAIN
Frankincense has the natural ability to block the production of key inflammation molecules commonly found in conditions with severe tissue inflammation such as arthritis, asthma, and irritable bowel syndrome. This helps to reduce the pain associated with such conditions and any other inflammation in the muscles or tendons. It can also help to prevent the wearing down of vulnerable cartilage tissues.
FRANKINCENSE HELPS FIGHT CANCER
Researchers at Leicester University found that a chemical compound in the gum resin of Frankincense has the potential to kill cancer cells in colon, breast, ovarian, and prostate cancers. They closely studied how the compound acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid (AKBA) found in Frankincense protected normal cells from ovarian cancer cells and even killed some cancer cells, reducing the spread of cancer at any stage. Additionally, they found that the AKBA compound was effective even on cancer cells that were resistant to chemotherapy. Some doctors are touting that the compound may help to improve survival rates in patients with late-stage ovarian cancer as it helps patients overcome issues with drug resistance. Of course, always consult with your doctor before using Frankincense as a part of your treatment plan.
Although these are the top benefits of Frankincense, there are many other reasons that make it valuable today. It has antiseptic properties, it can heal stretch marks or scars, it can help boost your immunity, improve digestion, act as a natural cold or flu medicine, and an effective anti-aging treatment. Frankincense is generally safe to use and can be combined with some other essential oils.
Next time you hear the nativity story and you think of the three wise men, you will have a better understanding of why they brought Frankincense as a precious gift for their King. You will also know just how valuable the aromatic resin still is today and the many ways it can improve your health every day.