The properties of Frankincense

The use of frankincense as a natural resin is very often mentioned in written sources, whether they are works relating to ancient languages, medical treatises, geographers’ accounts or poetic and literary works. The first traces15 of its use go back 4000 years. This resin was burned both in a domestic and religious context, from Mesopotamia to Rome. This resin is best known in the Western world for its association with the three wise men who offered Jesus the three precious gifts : gold, frankincense and myrrh. Incense in Oman is considered a status symbol.

Traditional Frankincense burner from the Salalah region

Two uses are distinguished :

The culture of perfume In the Sultanate of Oman frankincense is burned daily to welcome guests, to perfume clothes, spaces of house or used at family events, the frankincense is burned just before the ceremony, a birth for example, among other uses. Usually the infrankincensecense is consumed in a ceramic perfume burner typical of the Dhofar region.

However, frankincense is the essential ingredient of Oriental fragrances. Because of its unique aromatic fragrance, it is used by the great perfumers when composing a perfume. In the West it is mainly used by the perfume industry which exudes the value of its aroma. At the heart of the Omani identity, the perfume is a real emblem of the Sultanate, the perfume is here of cultural order, deeply anchored in the society and its customs. His majesty Sultan Qaboos is also the origin of the famous perfume 16 « Amouage ». A compound of about 130 of the Sultanate’s most subtle ingredients including frankincense, exceptional rose or myrrh.

The therapeutic way If spiritual use of frankincense is ancestral, it is the same for its therapeutic principles 17 found in ancient documents of civilizations of the Middle East 18 . In India, Ayurvedic medicine treatises place a lot of emphasis on boswellia resin. It was the same with the Greeks and the Romans. In the 1980s, 19 - 20 the therapeutic properties of boswellia resin became increasingly relevant to science. By the end of the twentieth century, Western researchers have highlighted some of these principles of Boswellia resin (sacra and carterii) 21

The active ingredient is contained in the resin and not in the smoke. The smoke contains components of the bosweillia resin but not enough to have a real therapeutic influence. It is the boswellic acids in the resin which are the active principles and develop, among other properties, an anti-inflammatory aspect. 22 An in vitro experiment carried out by a researcher from the hospital in Hamburg (Germany) showed that frankincense could be beneficial for inflammatory and especially rheumatic diseases.23 . Other research shows that it could prove valuable in the fight against cancer. 24 - 24a - 24b More and more medical science is interested in these boswellic acids 25 derived from this resin. This will certainly open a promising path for future drug applications.

Used in the form of essential oils of incense, other traditional therapeutic properties can also be mentioned :
Anti-infectious respiratory tract, joint and muscle pain, Antidepressant, 26 helps the functioning of the digestive system, Asthma...27

Other references on the Boswellia incense tree. 28

Therapeutic properties mentioned at the Frankincense museum in Salalah in the Dhofar region.

In practice

Omani people use Boswellia sacra resin in several ways :

As chewing gum :

- The resin grain is chewed to relieve indigestion and refresh the mouth, like a chewing gum until the taste of the resin is gone.

To be diluted in water :

- Dissolution of a few grains of "Al Hojari" resin in a water bottle, for about 24 hours. The water is then consumed to improve digestive comfort. In traditional Arab medicine, this water is also used against memory failures.

In a previous chapter, I mentioned that there are several qualities of frankincense. Only the quality « Hojari » or the one that Omani call « Number one » is not burned. As I said, it is better to use it for its medicinal properties. If you need information about Oman incense resin do not hesitate to use the contact form

Combustion of frankincense. Very often the resin is burned on an incandescent charcoal. The resin burns quickly and its aroma is reduced. Smoke means the end of the release of essential oils that carry all the scent. From experience, I recommend, as much as possible, to use a softer combustion. Some incense burners allow the resin to be heated slowly without charcoal. A richer perfume will be exuded for a longer period of time.

Frankincense burners that work with a candle (tea warmer) can be used. The resin grains are placed on the upper part of the burner. However, if this upper part is thick, the heat may not be high enough for combustion. After several attempts, I use an adjustable incense burner. At the base of the support is a candle. On the top support, adjustable on the rod fixed on the base, the resin is placed. This allows the height to be adjusted according to the intensity of the candle flame. There is also the electric incense burner, I have not tested it yet.

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    Frankincense : real resin. Mixed Hojari and « Number One »
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    Essential oil of frankincense and natural Hojari grains
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    Essential oil and natural grain Myrrhre
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    Frankincense: Fragrance, traditional blend of Oud, Frankincense and other elements of which only Omani families know the secret
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  • Frankincense essential oil
  • Myrrh essential oil
  • Amber Resin
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