Frankincense (Ru Xiang)
Botanical Name: Western – Boswellia thurifera, B. caraterii. Eastern – Gummi Olibanum.
Frankincense has long been used by many cultures to open the mind and soul to the eternal and to god. It has been used in cosmetics, perfumes, and to treat leprosy. The Chinese use it to help heal injuries and pain due to Blood or Qi stasis, including postpartum abdominal pain due to Blood stagnation.
Below is an overview of Frankincense, combining and interpreting the best of Western Science, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore and more. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of Frankincense.
Western Name: Frankincense
Also Known As: Olibanum, Incense
Organs/Systems: Stomach, Mind
Key Western Actions & Medicinal Uses: Stimulant, Digestive, Aromatic, Antidepressant.
Pin Yin: Ru Xiang
Also Known As: Fan Hun Xiang (meaning “calling back the soul fragrance”), Ru Xiang (meaning “nipple-shaped fragrance”)
Meridians: Heart, Liver, Spleen
Key TCM Actions & Medicinal Uses: Moves Qi and Blood/Prevents Stagnation: amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea or postpartum abdominal pain due to blood stasis, blood stasis related to traumatic injuries, painful swellings, masses, chest or abdominal pain due to blood stagnation. Relaxes the Sinews: promotes the free flow of Qi and Blood in the Meridians, relieves rigidity and spasms. Reduces Swelling and Generates Flesh: used topically to reduce swelling, generate flesh, alleviate pain and promote healing of wounds and sores, includes sore mouths and gums.
Parts Most Frequently Used: Dried Gum Resin, Oil
Flavors/Temps: Acrid, Bitter, Warm, Aromatic
Caution: Not recommended during pregnancy.
History/Folklore: Now mostly used externally even though it has a long history of being used internally as well. Pliny the Elder said it was an antidote for hemlock. Historically it has been used to treat tumors, ulcers, vomiting, dysentery and fevers. In ancient China is has been used to treat leprosy.
The Jews have used frankincense in their religious ceremonies as part of their “four sweet scents” which were pounded together.
In Catholic traditions, it is burned ceremonially and was one of the gifts given to the Christ Child by the Three Magi Wise Men on at His birth. The Persians, the Babylonians and Assyrians all burned frankincense as part of their sacred ceremonies. It is also used in India as part of a Ritual of Incense. The Romans burned it for all kinds of ceremonies, civil and sacred.
It is said in Arabia, where the herb comes from, that the frankincense trees are guarded by winged serpents of various sizes and colors.
The Chinese used frankincense as incense in ceremonies to mourn the dead, hence the source of the name “calling back the soul fragrance.” They also used it medicinally to help treat any conditions or pain caused by stagnant blood. When used in decoctions, especially to move blood, the Chinese will typically stir-fry or bake frankincense that has been soaked in rice vinegar to enhance its blood moving properties.
Inhaling the steam from frankincense soothes bronchitis and laryngitis. Boswellic acid in the resin are reputed to have potent anti-inflammatory properties.
65% Resins, Volatile oil, Gum, Bassorin, Boswellic acid, Alibanoresin.
Frankincense is mostly used today as an incense, but the Ancient Chinese also used it to treat leprosy.
The Egyptians used frankincense as one of their embalming agents.
Good quality is light yellow, semi-translucent, granular without sand and aromatic.
References: For a complete list of references please visit our References and Resources page.
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