Frankincense (Ru Xiang)
Botanical Name: Western – boswellia thurifera, B. caraterii. B. serrata, B. sacra. Eastern – gummi olibanum.
Frankincense has long been used by many cultures to open the mind and soul to the eternal and 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. Frankincense is an endangered species due to population growth and climate change.
Watch a short video, from Ann Christensen, Founder and Creator of White Rabbit Institute of Healing™ – Using Frankincense & Myrrh To Fight Cancer.
Below is an overview of frankincense, combining the best of Western Science, Oriental Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore, and a wide range of healing modalities. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of frankincense.
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Western Name: frankincense
Also Known As: Olibanum, Incense
Organs/Systems: Skin, Scalp, Lips
Key Actions: Antiseptic, Antimicrobial Anticancer, Anti-inflammatory, Antioxidant, Analgesic, Stimulant, Digestive, Aromatic, Antidepressant, Astringent, Purification
Medicinal Uses: Digestion, bloating, diarrhea, acne, anxiety, depression, laryngitis, bronchitis, joint pain, muscle aches, arthritis, ulcers, headaches, cancer, fungal infections, air cleanser.
Pin Yin: Ru Xiang
Also Known As: Fan Hun Xiang (“calling back the soul fragrance”), Ru Xiang ( “nipple-shaped fragrance”), frankincense gum
Meridians: Heart, Liver, Spleen
Key Actions: Moves Qi, Invigorates Blood, Prevents Stagnation, Relaxes the Sinews, Reduces Swelling, Generates Flesh
Medicinal Uses: 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, cancer, asthma, wheezing, shortness of breath, headaches, promotes the free flow of Qi and Blood in the Meridians, relieves rigidity and spasms, used topically to reduce swelling, generate flesh, alleviate pain and promote healing of wounds and sores, includes acne, sore mouths and gums, leprosy.
Basic Habitat / Botany:
Frankincense is obtained from the leafy tree Boswellia. It has white or pale rose flowers. To obtain frankincense a deep incision is made in the trunk of the tree and below it, a narrow strip of bark is peeled off. When the milk-like juice that exudes from the cut it hardens upon exposure to air, forming a yellowish substance that is called “tears.” This process takes place from May till September when the first rains start.
Most of the world’s frankincense comes from the Arabian Peninsula (Oman and Yemen) and Somalia. It typically grows in the dry, mountainous regions of India, Africa, and the Middle East.
Parts Most Frequently Used: Dried Gum Resin, Oil
Flavors/Temps: Acrid, Bitter, Warm, Aromatic
Caution: Considered safe used as directed and not recommended during pregnancy.
Key Constituents: 65% Resins, Volatile oil, B-phellandrene, A-pinene, Tetracyclic triterpenoids, Limonene, Gum, Bassorin, Boswellic acid, Alibanoresin
History/Folklore: Frankincense is mostly used externally even though it also has a long history of being used internally as well. Pliny the Elder said it was an antidote for hemlock. Historically it was a treatment for tumors, ulcers, vomiting, dysentery, and fevers, and in ancient China, for leprosy. It was considered more valuable than gold.
Frankincense has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for hundreds of years to treat arthritis and promote circulation. It helps to prevent the degeneration of cartilage in the joints. It is also used to treat digestive disorders.
The Jews have used frankincense in their religious ceremonies as part of their “four sweet scents” which were pounded together. Frankincense has a woodsy and slightly sweet aroma.
In Catholic traditions, it is burned ceremonially and was one of the gifts given to the Christ Child by the Three Magi Wise Men 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, found in the resin, is reputed to have potent anti-inflammatory properties, especially effective for those suffering from chronic aches and pains such as those caused by the ongoing impact of arthritis. Studies indicate that boswellic acids may be as effective as NSAIDs but with fewer side effects.
Frankincense is high in B-phellandrene and A-pinene, essential oil compounds effective for treating bloating and expelling gas from the stomach and intestines. Alpha-pinene (A-pinene) is anti-inflammatory, a bronchodilator, anti-anxiety, and may prevent short-term memory loss associated with THC.
In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), Olibanum oil is used to treat respiratory infections, congestion, and bronchitis. Used as an inhalant, it stimulates brain function and helps to reduce stress and support sleep.
Frankincense and myrrh are often used together enhancing their anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. They continue to be studied for their anticancer properties and ability to treat complex chronic diseases. They are both from two olive plants from different species and genera. Frankincense is from the boswellia carterii tree and is a hard, gelatinous resin. Myrrh is from the commiphora myrrha tree and is an oily, gelatinous substance. China is the world’s largest market for both frankincense and myrrh.
The synergistic effectiveness of these two herbs has been confirmed and continues to be studied. The formula, Qi Huang Pill, is a famous Traditional Chinese Medicine prescription for treating cancer. It is known as the “first drug” for cancer effectively treating breast, gastric, liver, and other cancers. It contains both frankincense and myrrh.
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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.
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