Everything About Frankincense Benefits, Uses & Side Effects

Frankincense, an age-old aromatic resin derived from the Boswellia tree, is a treasure of nature with an impressive array of uses and a rich history that stretches back thousands of years. Revered for its fragrant properties and its potent medicinal potential, frankincense holds a special place in the realm of herbal supplements and traditional medicine.

The Boswellia Tree: A Precious Source

Frankincense is harvested from the resin of trees belonging to the Boswellia genus, native to regions like the Arabian Peninsula and parts of Africa and India. These trees, known as frankincense trees, produce a resin that, when carefully harvested, can be transformed into the aromatic and therapeutic substance we know as frankincense.

A Time-Honored Tradition: The History of Frankincense

The history of frankincense is steeped in ancient traditions, spiritual rituals, and medicinal applications. Its use can be traced back to various cultures throughout history.

  • In ancient Egypt, frankincense was used in the embalming process of mummies, reflecting its spiritual significance and value.
  • In the Christian tradition, it is famously one of the gifts brought by the Magi to the infant Jesus, symbolizing its worth and importance.
  • In Ayurveda, the traditional medicine of India, frankincense has been used for its potential healing properties for centuries.

The Aroma and Resin: Frankincense’s Two Sides

Frankincense is renowned for its distinct, pleasing aroma, which is why it’s often used in perfumes, incense, and aromatic oils. But beyond its olfactory charm, frankincense boasts a wide range of potential medicinal benefits, making it a sought-after natural remedy.

The Resin’s Power: Medicinal Uses

Frankincense resin contains compounds with anti-inflammatory and potential anti-cancer properties. It has been used in traditional medicine to address various health concerns, including inflammatory conditions, joint pain, and digestive issues. Research is ongoing, and modern science is uncovering more about its potential therapeutic applications.

Spiritual and Ceremonial Significance of Frankincense

Frankincense’s significance transcends its earthly form; it plays a profound role in the spiritual and ceremonial practices of various cultures and religions worldwide. This aromatic resin has been used for centuries to connect with the divine, elevate consciousness, and purify the surroundings in a myriad of sacred rituals.

An Offering to the Divine: Across Cultures and Religions

Throughout history, frankincense has been offered to deities as a symbol of reverence and devotion. Its fragrant smoke is believed to carry prayers and blessings to the heavens. Let’s explore how different cultures and religions have embraced this aromatic treasure in their spiritual practices.

  • Christianity: Frankincense holds a place of honor in Christianity, particularly in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions. It symbolizes the prayers of the faithful rising to heaven, and it is used during Mass and other religious ceremonies.
  • Islam: In Islamic traditions, especially during Eid and other special occasions, incense burners release frankincense’s fragrant smoke to purify spaces and invite a sense of spirituality.
  • Hinduism: Frankincense is integral to Hindu rituals and ceremonies. It is often used during puja (worship), yagna (fire rituals), and other religious events to create a sacred atmosphere.
  • Ayurveda: Within the Ayurvedic tradition, frankincense is seen as a powerful purifying agent, with its smoke used to cleanse and energize the mind, body, and spirit.

Mystical Properties: Beyond the Physical World

In addition to its use in religious ceremonies, frankincense is believed to possess mystical properties. It is thought to help open the mind, elevate one’s consciousness, and deepen meditation. The calming and grounding effect of its aroma can aid in centering and focusing during spiritual practices.

Frankincense as a Symbol of Purity

Frankincense’s connection to purity extends beyond spirituality. Its purifying properties are harnessed to cleanse and clear spaces, protect against negative energies, and promote emotional balance. In aromatherapy, frankincense is used for its ability to induce a sense of calm and tranquility.

frankincense benefits

Potential Medicinal Benefits of Frankincense

Beyond its profound spiritual significance, frankincense offers a treasure trove of potential medicinal benefits. The resin’s therapeutic properties have intrigued herbalists, traditional healers, and modern scientists alike. Let’s explore the diverse ways in which frankincense may contribute to health and well-being.

1. Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Frankincense contains compounds with potent anti-inflammatory effects. Boswellic acids, in particular, have shown promise in reducing inflammation and managing conditions like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. This makes it a valuable natural remedy for those seeking relief from joint pain and inflammation.

2. Pain Management

The analgesic properties of frankincense make it a candidate for pain management. It may help alleviate pain related to conditions like arthritis, muscle aches, and menstrual discomfort. When used topically or in aromatherapy, it can provide soothing relief.

3. Immune Support

Frankincense may bolster the immune system, helping the body fight off infections and illnesses. This makes it a potential ally in staying healthy and resilient, particularly during the cold and flu season.

4. Respiratory Health

Inhalation of frankincense’s aromatic smoke or vaporized essential oil may support respiratory health. It can help ease congestion, clear airways, and reduce the symptoms of conditions like asthma and bronchitis.

5. Anti-Aging and Skin Health

Frankincense’s skin benefits are increasingly recognized in the world of natural beauty and skincare. Its astringent properties can help tighten and tone the skin, reducing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. Moreover, it can aid in wound healing and scar reduction, promoting a healthy, glowing complexion.

6. Stress Reduction

The calming aroma of frankincense has anxiolytic properties, helping reduce stress and anxiety. This can lead to better sleep, improved mood, and an overall sense of well-being.

7. Digestive Health

Frankincense has been traditionally used to support digestive health. It can help alleviate symptoms of indigestion, such as bloating, gas, and abdominal discomfort.

8. Antioxidant Benefits

Frankincense contains antioxidants that help combat the harmful effects of free radicals in the body. This may contribute to overall health and longevity.

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What Other Herbs Work Well with Frankincense?

While frankincense is a remarkable herbal remedy on its own, it can also be enhanced when combined with other complementary herbs. Herbalists and traditional medicine practitioners have explored these synergies to address a variety of health concerns. Here are some herbs that work well with frankincense to create powerful natural remedies:


Frankincense and Myrrh are often mentioned together in historical and medicinal contexts. These two resins complement each other exceptionally well. Myrrh has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, making it a valuable addition to frankincense for addressing joint pain, inflammation, and infections.


Turmeric, known for its active compound curcumin, is a potent anti-inflammatory herb. When combined with frankincense, it can create a dynamic duo for managing inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. This pairing can help reduce pain and improve joint function.


Ginger is another anti-inflammatory herb that pairs harmoniously with frankincense. Together, they can provide relief from various types of pain, including muscle aches and menstrual discomfort. Ginger’s warming nature complements frankincense’s calming qualities.


For stress reduction and relaxation, frankincense can be combined with Lavender. Lavender’s soothing aroma enhances the calming effects of frankincense, making it a useful blend for reducing anxiety, promoting better sleep, and managing stress.


Frankincense’s respiratory benefits can be amplified when combined with Eucalyptus. This herb has decongestant properties and can help alleviate symptoms of respiratory conditions like asthma and bronchitis. Inhaling a blend of eucalyptus and frankincense can support healthy breathing.


Chamomile, with its anti-inflammatory and relaxing properties, works well with frankincense to address various types of pain and discomfort. It can be especially beneficial for menstrual pain and digestive issues.


Rosemary is an herb known for its memory-enhancing properties. When paired with frankincense, it can support cognitive function and mental clarity. This combination may be particularly helpful for individuals seeking to improve focus and memory.

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera‘s skin-soothing and healing properties complement frankincense’s skin benefits. This combination can be used topically to promote wound healing, reduce scars, and maintain healthy skin.

Side Effects, Precautions, and Contraindications

While frankincense offers a wide array of benefits, it’s essential to be aware of potential side effects, precautions, and contraindications to ensure safe and effective use. Here’s what you need to know:

Potential Side Effects:

  • Skin Sensitivity: Some individuals may experience skin sensitivity when using frankincense essential oil topically. It’s advisable to perform a patch test before applying it to a larger area of the skin.
  • Gastrointestinal Issues: In rare cases, oral consumption of frankincense resin or essential oil may lead to gastrointestinal discomfort, including nausea and stomach upset.
  • Allergic Reactions: Although uncommon, some people may be allergic to frankincense. Allergic reactions can manifest as skin rashes, itching, or respiratory symptoms.


  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: Pregnant and breastfeeding women should consult their healthcare providers before using frankincense supplements or essential oils. While it’s generally considered safe, it’s essential to ensure its appropriateness for individual circumstances.
  • Children: The use of frankincense in children should be supervised by an experienced healthcare provider. It’s typically not recommended for infants.
  • Medication Interactions: Frankincense may interact with certain medications, such as blood thinners or antiplatelet drugs. If you are taking any prescription medications, consult your healthcare provider before using frankincense supplements or essential oils.


  • Bleeding Disorders: Individuals with bleeding disorders or those taking blood-thinning medications should avoid frankincense supplements or essential oils, as they may increase the risk of bleeding.
  • Hormone-Sensitive Conditions: Frankincense may have hormonal effects. Individuals with hormone-sensitive conditions like breast or uterine cancer, ovarian cysts, or endometriosis should consult their healthcare providers before using frankincense.
  • Undergoing Surgery: If you are scheduled for surgery, it’s essential to discontinue the use of frankincense supplements or essential oil a couple of weeks before the procedure to avoid potential bleeding or interference with anesthesia.

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How Does Frankincense Interact with Medication?

Understanding how frankincense interacts with medications is crucial, especially if you are currently taking prescription drugs. Here’s a closer look at potential interactions:

1. Blood-Thinning Medications:

Frankincense has mild blood-thinning properties. If you are taking anticoagulant medications such as warfarin (Coumadin) or antiplatelet drugs like aspirin, combining them with frankincense could increase the risk of bleeding. It’s essential to consult your healthcare provider to monitor your medication dosage and ensure your blood’s clotting ability remains within a safe range.

2. Diabetes Medications:

If you are on medications to manage diabetes, using frankincense supplements alongside them may lead to lower blood sugar levels. This interaction can be problematic, especially if your blood sugar drops too low. It’s important to monitor your blood sugar levels closely and consult your healthcare provider to adjust your diabetes medication dosage if necessary.

3. Hypertension Medications:

Frankincense may have a mild hypotensive (blood pressure-lowering) effect. When taken with hypertension medications, it could lead to excessively low blood pressure. To avoid this, monitor your blood pressure regularly and work with your healthcare provider to make any necessary adjustments to your medication dosage.

4. Immunosuppressant Medications:

If you are taking immunosuppressant medications to manage conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or after an organ transplant, frankincense’s potential immune-modulating effects may interact with your medication. Consult your healthcare provider to ensure that the use of frankincense does not compromise the effectiveness of your immunosuppressant drugs.

When it comes to reaping the potential medicinal benefits of frankincense, understanding the recommended dosage and the various available forms is essential for safe and effective use. Let’s explore how to use frankincense wisely:

Recommended Dosage:

  • Supplements: The recommended dosage for frankincense supplements can vary based on the specific product and its concentration. Typically, a standard dose ranges from 300 mg to 400 mg taken two to three times a day. It’s advisable to start with a lower dose and gradually increase it while monitoring your body’s response.
  • Essential Oil: When using frankincense essential oil topically, it’s important to dilute it with a carrier oil, such as jojoba oil or coconut oil, to prevent skin irritation. A safe dilution ratio is typically around 1% to 2%, which equates to 1 to 2 drops of frankincense essential oil per teaspoon of carrier oil. You can apply the diluted oil to the skin or use it in aromatherapy.

Available Forms:

Frankincense is available in various forms, allowing you to choose the one that best suits your needs:

  1. Supplements: You can find frankincense in the form of capsules or softgels, providing a convenient way to incorporate it into your daily routine. Look for high-quality supplements from reputable brands.
  2. Essential Oil: Frankincense essential oil is commonly used in aromatherapy. Ensure you purchase 100% pure, therapeutic-grade essential oil from a trusted source to guarantee its quality and efficacy.
  3. Resin: Frankincense resin can be purchased in its natural form. To use it, you can burn the resin as incense, making it an excellent choice for spiritual or ceremonial purposes.

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In conclusion, frankincense is a captivating herbal remedy with a rich history that spans cultures and civilizations. Its potential medicinal benefits are truly remarkable, ranging from anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties to immune-boosting and anti-anxiety effects.

However, it’s crucial to approach frankincense with mindfulness and caution. While this herb holds immense promise, it can also interact with certain medications and may not be suitable for everyone. Here’s a summary of the key points we’ve explored in this comprehensive guide:

  • What is Frankincense: Frankincense, also known as Boswellia, is a resin obtained from the Boswellia tree. It has been used for centuries in traditional medicine, religious rituals, and perfumery.
  • Spiritual and Ceremonial Significance: Frankincense holds a revered place in various spiritual and religious traditions. It is often used in ceremonies, prayers, and rituals to symbolize purification and connection with the divine.
  • Potential Medicinal Benefits: Frankincense offers a wide range of potential health benefits, including anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving, immune-boosting, and anxiety-reducing effects. It may support conditions such as arthritis, asthma, and stress.
  • Herb Combinations: Frankincense can be combined with other herbs like myrrh for enhanced therapeutic effects. Such combinations have been used in traditional medicine for various purposes.
  • Side Effects and Precautions: Frankincense is generally safe when used in moderation. However, it can cause skin irritation when applied topically and may interact with certain medications. Consult a healthcare provider before use.
  • Interactions with Medication: Frankincense can interact with blood-thinning, diabetes, and hypertension medications, potentially leading to complications. Monitor your health closely when using it alongside prescription drugs.
  • Recommended Dosage and Available Forms: The recommended dosage of frankincense supplements varies based on the product. It is typically available in the form of capsules or softgels. When using frankincense essential oil, dilute it with a carrier oil to prevent skin irritation. Additionally, you can use frankincense resin for incense.

It’s essential to approach frankincense with an informed perspective. If you are considering incorporating it into your health regimen, consult with a healthcare provider to ensure that it aligns with your specific health needs and any existing medications you may be taking.

Frankincense’s history is a testament to its enduring significance, and with the right approach, it can become a valuable ally in your journey toward holistic well-being.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frankincense FAQ: 50 Common Questions Addressed

Article Sources

At AncientHerbsWisdom, our content relies on reputable sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to substantiate the information presented in our articles. Our primary objective is to ensure that our content is thoroughly fact-checked, maintaining a commitment to accuracy, reliability, and trustworthiness.

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