Today is Epiphany, which traditionally marks the end of Christmas. It was the day the Three Magi arrived in Bethlehem from the East, bearing precious gifts for the newborn King of kings.
So, today, I thought we’d focus on frankincense—one of the three gifts they brought—and five of its impressive health benefits in particular.
But first, let’s delve into the history of this ancient, healing extract…
Ancient oil thought to promote spirituality
Frankincense is an ancient plant extract that dates back at least 6,000 years to the Arabian Peninsula. The English word frankincense derives from the Old French expression franc encens, which roughly translates to “high-quality incense.”
Although, it probably also alludes to the Frankish King Frederick Barbarossa (“Red Beard”), who fought in the crusades and brought the oil back with him to Europe during the Middle Ages.
You may also know frankincense by its lesser-known, botanical name—boswellia—which comes from the English botanist Boswell. (I use the name boswellia when discussing the extract’s medicinal properties. I use the name frankincense when discussing the oil or the incense.)
Indeed, frankincense comes from the resin of the boswellia trees, which originally grew in India, Oman, Yemen, and the Horn of Africa, including Somalia and Ethiopia. (Resin is a bit like tree sap, just harder and thicker.)
Of course, frankincense is primarily known as a religious oil. It was commonly used in ancient, religious ceremonies throughout Mesopotamia and the Eastern Mediterranean, as it was thought to promote spirituality, meditation, and purification.
Later, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox priests also burned frankincense as incense to help people connect to the spiritual world. (Its strong aroma also helped mask the odors of unwashed, medieval crowds during long church services.)
The extract also has a long history as a medicinal remedy. In fact, ancient Egyptians referenced its healing properties in hieroglyphics. And Hippocrates considered it among the first medicines in ancient Greece.
You can take it orally, use it topically, or inhale it for a variety of uses. So let’s take a look at the five major health benefits associated with this ancient plant extract.
1.) Supports joint health
Boswellia has been used for 5,000 years to combat joint pain. And now, modern research is beginning to learn that it works by reducing chronic inflammation. Once the inflammation is controlled, your body is able to rebuild new, healthy cartilage.
Recent studies have compared boswellia to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). They’ve found that it controls joint inflammation as well as—or better than—NSAIDs. But, of course, boswellia doesn’t have the side effects common to NSAIDs, such as accelerated joint damage, gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding, and heart toxicity.
You can rub frankincense oil directly on your affected joints. Or, better yet, you can take boswellia orally, along with ashwagandha and curcumin—which is what I call the ABCs of joint health. Because when you take all three supplements together, it magnifies their potency. (Keep reading for my oral dosing recommendations.)
2.) Soothes digestive woes
Taken orally, boswellia can also help ease digestive problems, such as constipation, gas, stomachache, and irritable bowels, which are especially common at this time of year.
Plus, a study in the European Journal of Medical Research also found it effectively treats symptoms of ulcerative colitis when taken orally three times per day over six weeks. These effects are similar to sulfa drugs, which are commonly used to treat bowel disease.
3.) Boosts respiratory health
You can also inhale frankincense or take it orally to ease common respiratory conditions, such asthma, bronchitis, and cough. In fact, in another recent study, patients with asthma who took boswellia orally three times daily for six weeks experienced reductions in the number of attacks and the severity of symptoms.
(You can learn more about the natural ways to support respiratory health in my brand new, online protocol, Breathe Better Lung Health Protocol. To learn more about this comprehensive learning tool, or to enroll today, click here now.)
4.) Protects oral health
Frankincense also supports oral health. Just add a few drops of the essential oil directly to dental pastes to help prevent cavities, tooth decay, oral infections, and halitosis (bad breath). Studies show it also effectively combats gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) caused by dental plaque. And it eases irritation, redness, and swelling in gums.
5.) Fights and prevents cancer
Lab studies show boswellia also helps fight cancer cells in the bladder, breast, brain, cervix, colon, liver, lung, pancreas, prostate, skin, and stomach. It appears to work by fighting inflammation, a major factor in cancer growth. It also appears to attack cancer cells directly, by disrupting their life cycles.
And unlike chemotherapy, which targets healthy and cancerous cells alike, boswellia leaves healthy cells alone. So, even if you do end up opting for chemotherapy, adding this plant extract to your regimen may help reduce your side effects and even the dose of chemotherapy you need.
All in all, I recommend adding this potent plant extract to your daily routine. It will help reduce inflammation and give you impressive immune system support.
I suggest an oral dose of 400 to 500 mg of boswellia per day.
You’ll start to notice a difference in your joints within weeks, if not days. And your overall health will benefit as well, which is probably why the elderly Magi, after traveling thousands of miles, brought along this precious oil to the birth of Christ thousands of years ago!
“Effects of Boswellia serrata gum resin in patients with ulcerative colitis.” Eur J Med Res. 1997 Jan;2(1):37-43.
“Effects of Boswellia serrata gum resin in patients with bronchial asthma: results of a double-blind, placebo-controlled, 6-week clinical study.” European Journal of Medical Research, 31 Oct 1998, 3(11):511-514. PMID: 9810030
“Frankincense: From the Selection of Traditional Applications to the Novel Phytotherapy for the Prevention and Treatment of Serious Diseases,” J Tradit Complement Med. 2013 Oct-Dec; 3(4): 221–226
“Frankincense oil derived from Boswellia carteri induces tumor cell specific cytotoxicity.” Complement Altern Med. 2009; 9: 6