Frankincense, also called Boswellia for the scientific genus, is a type of herb commonly used in aromatherapy.1 The frankincense plant is a type of tree that grows in mountainous areas of India as well as in areas of southern Arabia and eastern Africa. It’s the distilled form or extract of the tree’s resin that’s used in aromatherapy. The resin can be made into perfumes or incense and even incorporated into skin care products.2 The herb can also be taken orally.
Frankincense Uses and Health Benefits
Frankincense benefits are vast. Not only does it help sooth the mind and improve concentration, but it’s said to have anti-inflammatory properties that can help people suffering from conditions like arthritis.1, 2 Its anti-inflammatory properties make it a good herb for back pain as well as for repairing blood vessels. Among frankincense benefits, it doesn’t cause stomach issues like other anti-inflammatory drugs can. It’s also said to prevent wrinkles and have anti-aging properties when used in topical cosmetics.2, 3
Other frankincense uses include for relieving indigestion, reducing the appearance of scars, and helping reduce phlegm in the lungs.3 It’s also said to help with the following conditions:
- Ovarian Cancer - Frankincense is said to help kill cancer cells by taking the herb orally in oil or pill form.
- Cancer - In addition to ovarian cancer, frankincense may help in fighting other forms of cancer cells.
- Ovarian Cyst - Patients with ovarian cysts may benefit from an oral frankincense remedy.
- Testicular Cancer - Among frankincense uses, it’s thought to be effective in treating testicular cancer.
- Warts - Topical application of frankincense can help in fighting warts.
Frankincense Side Effects and Precautions
Frankincense is generally considered safe to use. However, it’s best to proceed with caution. When taking internally, frankincense side effects can include nausea, and diarrhea. When applying the oil topically, side effects such as skin rash may occur.2 If you have not used frankincense oil before, it’s best to dilute a drop before taking internally or applying topically.4 Do not use frankincense if you have sensitive skin.2
Avoid the herb if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, have a blood thinning disorder, or have kidney or liver problems.2,4 Do not give to children.2 Always talk to your doctor before starting on an herbal remedy. Discuss any medical conditions you have as well as any herbs or medications you’re taking to ensure they won’t interact with frankincense.