Essential Oil Profile: Frankincense

by Amelia E. Stone, RN


Common Name: Frankincense

Latin Binomial: Boswellia frereana

Family: Burseraceae

Other Common Names: Olibanum

Production Method: Steam distilled

Countries of Origin: Somalia

Typical Constituents: α-Pinene (41-80.0%), Sabinene (0.5-21.0%), α-Thujene (0-19.3%), [+]-Limonene (0-17.0%), Viridiflorol (0-15.2%), ρ-Cymene (0.7-11.7%), b-Pinene (0-6.9%), Verbenone (0-6.5%), b-Myrcene (0-6.0%), α-Phellandrene (0-5.9%), Bornyl acetate(0-5.6%), Carvone (0-4.4%), δ-3-Carene (0-3.4%), Linalool (0-3.0%), 1,8-Cineole (0-2.9%), γ-Terpinene (0-2.5%), Camphene (0-2.1%), Thujol (0-1.8%),        α-Pinocarveol (0-1.7%), Campholenic aldehyde (0-1.5%), Octyl acetate (0-1.5%), α-Terpinene (0-1.5%),  b-Elemene (0-1.3%), b-Caryophyllene (0-1.2%), α-Thujone (0-1.2%), [Z]-b-Ocimene (0-1.0%),                     b-Phellandrene (0-1.0%), b-Selinene (0-1.0%)

 Description of Oil: Pale yellow or pale amber-greenish in color.  Has a hauntingly woodsy and spicy fragrance with a hint of lemon.

Description of Plant: A smallish handsome tree or shrub with pinnate leaves and white or pale pink flowers. 

History, Folklore and Myth: Domestically and religiously important in ancient Egypt; used in cosmetics and incense for rituals.  Once considered more valuable than gold.

Properties and Uses:  Numerous therapeutic actions including but not limited to: antiseptic, diuretic, & expectorant.  Used to treat asthma & bronchitis and well known in skin care.

Precautions and Contraindications: non-toxic, non-irritant, non-sensitising

Other Interesting Information: Roman emperor Nero is said to have burnt more frankincense than Arabia could produce in a year at his wife Poppaea’s funeral.  Pliny recommended frankincense as an antidote to hemlock, Avicenna recommended it for tumors, ulcers, vomiting, dysentery and fever.  Presently frankincense is used regularly by Christians and Muslims in churches and mosques.


Cheryl’s recommedation: Although it is a bit pricey, Cheryl is absolutely smitten with Jasmine Sambac    (we also have Jasmine Grandiflorum) and Frankincense together as a stress reducing perfume.  The two can be combined in equal parts or with a greater amount of frankincense.  Mixing these into our jojoba cream will create a luxurious skin treatment for yourself or someone you love.



Battaglia, Salvatore. The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy. Virginia, Queensland, Australia: The Perfect Potion. 1995.

Lawless, Julia. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils. Shaftesbury, Dorset. Element Books. 1995.

Tisserand, Robert, and Tony Balacs. Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone. 1995.

Sellar, Wanda. The Directory of Essential Oils. London: Random House. 2005

Shutes, Jade. Advanced Aromatherapy Certification Program. East-West School for Herbal and Aromatic Studies. 2014

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