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Frankincense essential oil – learn of its benefits and history

It is believed that frankincense has been traded for more than 5,000 years across the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa. There is evidence of these trades in the ancient Egyptian kingdom, the Land of Punt, where a mural on the walls of the temple of Queen Hatshepsut, dating back to 1458BC, shows sacks of the resin being traded. The Greek writer Herodotus (5th century B.C.) wrote that Arabia's trees were 'guarded by winged serpents’ and merchants would spread these tales to protect their trade and keep any competitors away. So, what is it about Frankincense that’s so precious? Read on to find out more …

Where does Frankincense come from?

Most frankincense comes from about five species of Boswellia trees, found in North Africa and India, but also in Oman, Yemen, and western Africa.

  1. BOSWELLIA CARTERII - This is the most commonly known one as a lot of research has been done with it. It has a crisp, light, soft aroma. This is what a lot of people associate with the fragrance of a quality incense and the one the Humble Herb use in their balms.

  2. BOSWELLIA NEGLECTA - This variety has a very warm, sweet and balsamic aroma like a mix of soft vanilla and amber with just the slightest hint of camphor.

  3. BOSWELLIA SACRA - This resin comes from the Boswellia Sacra tree and occurs as white, green and amber depending on the growing conditions and harvest time. It has a haunting aroma that is light with a hint of sweet floral.

  4. BOSWELLIA SERRATA - This variety has a light and refreshing, lemony top note with a balsamic, and much stronger, woody aroma.

  5. BOSWELLIA FREREANA - This variety has a very strong, deep, woody aroma with a hint of lemon. It is also called ‘Copti’ which refers to its use by the Coptic church of Egypt.

The trees look gnarled and knotty, like a desert bonsai. To collect frankincense, harvesters make incisions into the trunks and scrape out the oozing sap, which hardens into frankincense resin and is collected by hand and sorted for quality. Frankincense trees start to produce the resin at about 10-20 years old, and are tapped about three times a year. The final tapping process of the year usually yields the best results, and the highest quality frankincense.

Benefits of Frankincense essential oil

Frankincense acts as an antiseptic and disinfectant agent that has been known to display antimicrobial effects

Frankincense is a natural astringent - it can cause skin cells to contract. It can also support the body to repair the damage from scars and improve the skin’s appearance.

The boswellic acids in Frankincense essential oil inhibit the production of inflammatory enzymes making it an anti-inflammatory.

It is calming and helps get your mind in a relaxed state. This is why churches use it so much in ritual services. A thurible is a small charcoal burner on chains that is swung around and the Frankincense resin slowly burns and produces a high-quality incense aroma.

How does Frankincense essential oil’s aroma work?

When the scent of frankincense is inhaled, the aromatic molecules travel up your nose to your olfactory bulb, which immediately sends a message to the limbic system, often referred to as the ‘emotional brain’. The limbic system influences many basic things like breathing, blood pressure, stress levels and hormone balance. But it’s also where your memories, emotions and feelings are stored.

This whole process happens within milliseconds. It’s why we often have an immediate response when we smell something - instantly triggering a mood, emotion or physical reaction.

5 facts about Frankincense

  1. Frankincense was used for tooth care in ancient times. You can still find frankincense in some toothpaste brands today.

  2. Eyeliner goes way back to the ancient Egyptian civilization. Women used frankincense as an ingredient of their famed intense black "kohl" eyeliner. They burnt it, then ground it into a powder and applied it on their eyelids.

  3. Nero, a ruler of the Roman Empire, burned frankincense at an alarming rate. The frankincense was brought to Rome by camels and eventually the amount that he asked for required over three thousand camels to complete the journey.

  4. During the 1922 discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb, they found frankincense in sealed containers. After thousands of years, the frankincense in the tomb still retained its smell, which impressed the archaeologists making the amazing discovery.

  5. In the early 1990s, the lost city of Ubar , located in the Arabian Peninsula and known as the “Incense Road” was rediscovered. It helped show where and how the prized commodity was shipped across the Arabian desert by a network of caravan routes to Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean and by ships across the sea to India.


The Humble Herbs’ strong CBD Balms, 2256 – CALM , 3273 – EASE and 77/78 - SPORT contain Frankincense essential oil blended with other carefully selected oils. Added to CALM and EASE is 500mg of CBD and with SPORT a colossal 1000mg of CBD in the 30ml balm.

Find out more by exploring our website and blogs.

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