There are many ways to use frankincense, which is an herb that comes from the resin of the Boswellia tree. Its most common uses in Ayurvedic or Western medicine stem from its therapeutic properties as an analgesic, antidepressant, and sedative. However, in addition to being a powerful healing herb, frankincense is also an important ingredient in stress-reducing incenses and exotically scented perfumes.
Research-Based Uses for Frankincense
If you are not sure how to use frankincense, rest assured it has a number of suggested uses in natural and traditional medicine, such as the following:
- Recent research at Virginia Tech seems to suggest that frankincense may be useful in treating malignant melanoma.
- Further research indicates that it may also have efficacy in treating bladder cancer.
- A double blind, placebo-controlled study tested a drug called 5-Loxin, a derivative of frankincense. Indications are that the drug shows efficacy in treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee.
- Another study done at Johns Hopkins University indicated that frankincense smoke has psychoactive properties, which relieve anxiety and depression in mice.
Anecdotal Ways to Use Frankincense
Anecdotally, medical research does not back up some of the many reported benefits of frankincense in its various forms. However, there are many people who believe in its healing powers.
How to Use Frankincense for Aromatherapy
- When used as aromatherapy, frankincense may relieve a number of conditions related to emotional stress such as anxiety, disappointment, emotional fatigue and hysteria. To use for aromatherapy, place a few drops in warm water such as a bath, massage with the oil diluted in a carrier oil, or use a special aromatherapy diffuser.
- Further aromatherapy uses of frankincense oil include treatment of congestive conditions such as asthma, bronchitis and sinusitis.
- A few drops of frankincense oil sprinkled on a handkerchief and inhaled regularly can relieve the nasal congestion associated with common colds and allergies.
How to Use Frankincense Essential Oil
- Many people believe in treating ganglion cysts with a twice-daily topical application of a few drops of frankincense essential oil in a carrier oil such as grape seed oil.
- You can apply frankincense topically (a few drops in a teaspoon of carrier oil) for treatment of inflammatory skin conditions such as acne scarring, healing of cuts and blemishes. For wounds, apply two to three drops of frankincense oil to a cold compress and apply directly to the area twice daily.
- Use a few drops of frankincense oil in daily skin treatment creams to minimize wrinkles and restore elasticity to the skin.
- Relieve menstrual cramps by adding eight to ten drops of frankincense essential oil to your bathwater and settling in for a long, soothing soak. For heavy periods, apply three to four drops of frankincense oil in a carrier oil and massage on the lower abdomen twice a day.
- Eight to ten drops of frankincense oil in bathwater can also relieve the burning of urinary tract infections. It probably goes without saying - soak in the bathwater; don't drink it.
- To improve circulation, add four to five drops of frankincense oil to a carrier oil and massage on the affected areas twice daily.
Because of its anecdotal reputation as a powerful anti-inflammatory, some use frankincense to treat chronic inflammatory conditions such as Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis and osteoarthritis. A physician should oversee the use of frankincense for these conditions, and your doctor can give you more information about how to use frankincense in your treatment.
Precautions and Side Effects
Many of the above uses have not been tested by the ADA. It is always best to check with your physician before using any herbal remedy. Frankincense shouldn't be taken internally unless you are under the care of a physician or natural health care provider who recommends such use.
- If you are using a blood thinning medication such as Plavix or Coumadin, you should not use frankincense.
- You should never use frankincense while pregnant or nursing unless you are under the direction of your health care provider.
- Frankincense oil should never be applied directly to the skin or irritation may result. Always dilute frankincense in a carrier oil or water. If irritation of the skin occurs, discontinue use and consult your doctor. Frankincense should never be applied to broken skin.
More Than Meet the Eye
Frankincense has many alleged medical benefits and aromatic properties, as well as some established medical uses. Either way, there is more to this centuries old herb than meets the eye at first glance. For more information on how to use frankincense or to learn more about its less common uses, consult with a natural health care provider or aroma therapist.