The truth about Frankincense – an example of how the herbal/botanical as medicine may be very different from the essential oil as medicine.
“Frankincense is a well-known anti-inflammatory. Of the more than 300 known active ingredients in frankincense essential oil, boswellic acids are the most well-studied. Examining the curative effect of frankincense, Professor Werz and his colleagues were able to show where exactly how boswellic acids – which are responsible for the impact of the ingredients of the Boswellia resin – interfere in the process of inflammation.”
Now if I were a salesperson who knew nothing about essential oil chemistry, I might reference this article and say “use Frankincense EO to treat inflammatory disease”.
Except, this article is not about the essential oil – there is no boswellic acid in steam or hydrodistilled Frankincense essential oil. The “active substances (which) can be very beneficial in therapies against diseases like asthma, rheumatoid arthritis or atopic dermatitis” this article refers to, are extracted using an alcohol extraction method, not steam distillation. So they are not essential oils.
[Disclaimer – I am an Independent Consultant with NYR Organic and sell both frankincense essential oil and aromatherapy skincare products which contain it, as well as a nutritional supplement which contains Boswellia Serrata Extract @ 65% Boswellic Acid; the supplement does not contain the EO.]
More Frankincense Research
“The smell of frankincense resin and powder, as well as burned frankincense, has been linked to a series of health effects since ancient times. Additionally, frankincense and its fumes are used as a means to induce positive psychophysical effects and well-being, not only in an ecclesiastical setting but also in traditional medical applications. This review aims to provide an overview of current knowledge of the volatile constituents of frankincense, with explicit consideration concerning the diverse Boswellia varieties. Altogether, more than 300 volatiles in frankincense have been reported in the literature. In particular, a broad diversity has been found in the qualitative and quantitative composition of the volatiles with respect to different varieties of Boswellia. A detailed discussion of the various analytical approaches applied to isolating and analysing the volatile fractions of frankincense is also presented.”
Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Learn more: The volatile constituents of frankincense – a review – onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ffj.1942/abstract
There is another article which readers can access [hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2013/140509/], however it has been retracted
“This article has been retracted as it was found to contain a substantial amount of material from the manuscript titled “The volatile constituents of frankincense – a review” by Michaela Mertens, Andrea Buettnera, and Eva Kirchhoffa which was published in Flavour and Fragrance Journal, Volume 24, Issue 6, pages 279–300, November/December 2009, without proper citation.”
But you can still *read between the lines*!
“The essential oils of Boswellia plants showed different activities which is summarized in Table 3.”
January 17, 2016 – Updated to add link to this new article by #RobertTisserand