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Essential oil of the month – Frankincense

frankincenseFrankincense (Boswellia carteri) essential oil has an unmistakable odour – being both warm and resinous yet penetrating and camphorous. It is one of those few oils that actually improves with age – and is one of the most ancient and revered of essences – used in temples and vaporised in religious ceremonies since the earliest of times. It was famously used in the embalming process in Ancient Egypt, the aroma still detectable thousands of years later – when their tombs were discovered and explored.

The resin was initially gathered as it formed bubbles and crusts from cracks in the tree bark – but as demand increased, cuts were hewn into the bark to encourage more uniform exudation. The essential oil is extracted from the resin using steam distillation – which produces an oil that is usually a pale yellow colour.

Whilst much is covered regarding the rejuvenating properties of Frankincense for mature skin, this feature is going to focus on the extraordinary properties it has in relation to its other physical, emotional and spiritual actions. One of the reasons this oil is ideal at this time of year is that it has such a warming, comforting action, which can really help when those Wintery winds first start to bite. Its main therapeutic actions – aside from those properties relating to the skin – are extensive, but fall into 3 main categories:-

Immunity boosting:

This essential oil is enormously effective in helping the immune system – both whilst under attack from various bugs – and as a tonic during convalescence. It blends particularly well in relation to these uses with Lavender, Eucalyptus, Bergamot and Palmarosa.

For flu: Try vaporising this combination and use as a twice daily inhalation: 3 drops of Frankincense, 3 Bergamot, 3 Lavender and 1 Eucalyptus.

Emotional tonic:

Frankincense has been used throughout the ages for its powerful relaxant and calming effect. It was used in many forms of religious ceremonies, and indeed still is, as it creates an effect conducive to prayer and meditation. In one of my books I referred to it as the “Little Hug Oil” – such is the comfort and reassurance it brings. So, for sadness and depression, anxiety and nervousness, it has a grounding, uplifting effect that is a real delight. It blends particularly well with the fragile flower essences and citrus oils, as well as Sandalwood, Geranium, and Lavender.

For depression: Try regular massage with 25ml Sweet Almond Oil, 5ml St John’s Wort, 2 drops Neroli, 2 Jasmine, 4 Frankincense and 6 Geranium. This blend is also great for a soothing aromatic bath – combine with 15ml of Bath Milk and add to the bath once water has run.

Respiratory tonic:

Frankincense has a wonderful effect on the rate of respiration, and the depth of the breath, encouraging deep slow breathing – particularly useful for those who shallow breathe at a rapid rate due to anxiety and stress. It has a drying action for those with chronic or acute congestion – excess catarrhal congestion due to infection and/or a diet which creates excess mucus. This oil can also be particularly effective when used regularly in massage for those who suffer from asthma. For these uses, it combines well with other resinous essential oils – such as Pine, Cedarwood and Sandalwood, Ginger and Lemon, Bergamot and Eucalyptus.

For preventative treatment of those prone to asthma: Try regular massage with 25ml Sweet Almond Oil, 5ml Neem Oil, 1 drop Eucalyptus, 4 Frankincense, 4 Pine and 1 Ginger.