Frankincense essential oil (also known as olibanum) is one of the most popular essential oils around and has been used for thousands of years. However, did you know that there are different types of frankincense essential oils? To name a few, you have Boswellia frereana (from Somalia), Boswellia carterii (from East Africa), Boswellia sacra (from Oman and Yemen), and Boswellia serrata (from India).


Well, for today, we are going to be directing all our focus to Boswellia serrata — which is believed to be the oldest of all the Frankincenses. Read on now to find out everything there is to know about this ancient essential oil — from what it is made of to its varied uses.


What is Frankincense Serrata Essential Oil Made Of?


Frankincense serrata essential oil — also commonly known as Indian frankincense — is derived from the resin of the Boswellia serrata trees. These trees are small in stature and grow up to only approximately 22 feet. Sporting narrow leaves and white to slightly pink flowers, Boswellia serrata trees are native to the dry mountainous regions of India and eastern Pakistan.


This particular type of Frankincense essential oil is woodsy, light, and mellow. As its scent is highly appealing and pleasant, frankincense serrata essential oil is a common fixture in many perfumes, aromatherapy, and incense.


How is Frankincense Serrata Essential Oil Extracted?


First, incisions are made to the trees by slashing the bark — this is also called striping — to allow the milky white sap/resin to ooze out. The resin then hardens to a brownish gum and forms what is commonly referred to as tears.


Next, the resin crystals (or tears) are crushed into powder and placed in an oil bath. Finally, it is steam distilled to produce the frankincense serrata essential oil you see in stores.


Benefits of Frankincense Serrata Essential Oil


1.      Reduces pain and improves knee function


While the two are often confused for the other, there are actually differences between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis (mentioned below). Osteoarthritis is caused by mechanical wear and tear on joints.


Meanwhile, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks the body’s joint.


Luckily enough, frankincense serrata essential oil helps with both. In a clinical study, a composition derived from frankincense serrata resin is shown to significantly improve joint pain and functionality. In fact, the patients began to experience significant improvement in as early as seven days of treatment with a higher dose.


Besides that, another study published in the Journal of Phytomedicine found that all patients who received Boswellia serrata extract reported decreased knee pain, increased flexibility, increased walking distance, and decreased swelling in the knee joint.


2.      Alleviates the pain and discomfort stemming from rheumatoid arthritis


One of the most painful symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis is inflammation of and around the joints. Hence, there are many treatments and drugs meant for reducing this inflammation. This includes nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and steroids. It has been suggested that frankincense serrata essential oil can be used as an alternative to these drugs because of its anti-inflammatory nature.


A 2019 animal study revealed that frankincense serrata essential oil has anti-inflammatory potential and can be utilized as a potential anti-arthritic agent. However, as this study was only using rats and still in a preliminary stage, further research to support the finding is needed.


3.      Treats inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD)


Additionally, frankincense serrata essential oil may also be effective in treating inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. This is courtesy of the essential oil’s anti-inflammatory properties.


A 2001 German study compared frankincense extract to an anti-inflammatory prescription drug and concluded that the extract may be just as effective in treating Crohn’s disease.


A different study in the World Journal of Gastroenterology investigates the mitigating effect of boswellic acids on colitis in rats. This research concluded that the result of the study “strongly suggests that these prodrugs might have dual applicability to inflammatory bowel disease.”


4.      Potentially has a role in asthma treatment


On top of that, this is also the essential oil for those of you suffering from the terrible effects of asthma.


The boswellic acids in frankincense serrata essential oil may also be a potential treatment for asthma reaction as they inhibit leukotrienes (which causes bronchial muscles to contract) biosynthesis.


A 1998 research published in the European Journal of Medical Research found that patients who were treated with the preparation of frankincense serrata gum resin showed improvement with decreased asthma symptoms and indicators. The researchers posited that the “data shows a definite role of gum resin of Boswellia serrata in the treatment of bronchial asthma.”


A more recent study also suggested that boswellic acid is an anti-asthmatic agent and can be beneficial for the treatment of asthma by mitigating allergic responses.


5.      Combats negative feelings and enhance moods


Considering that frankincense got its name from the French term “franc encens”  which means “high-quality incense”, it is only right that this earthy scent can be used to combat negative feelings (including stress and anxiety) and promote relaxation.


A few drops of frankincense essential oil in the diffuser will set the right mood and wash away any negative feelings. If you would like to take it a step further, add a few drops of the oil into your bath water for the ultimate self-care session. Alternatively, spray a mixture of the essential oil and water in your bedroom when it is near bedtime to help you get ready for sleep.


6.      Part of your skincare routine


Frankincense serrata essential oil can be used as part of your skincare routine, too. By blending frankincense with other essential oils and a carrier oil, the mixture can be used as an effective natural anti-aging serum.


Certain early research has shown that frankincense can help with diminishing signs of aging such as fine lines, roughness, and sun damage.


Mixing Frankincense Serrata Essential Oil with Other Essential Oils


Frankincense serrata essential oil’s scent — exotic, woodsy, and slightly sweet — blends well with citrus essential oils like bergamot, lemon, and sweet orange because of its floral nuances.


If you prefer something a little more ‘masculine’ and warm, try frankincense serrata with cedarwood, sandalwood, and myrrh essential oils.


Alternatively, play to its floral nuances with floral essential oils such as ylang-ylang, rose, and lavender.


Other-Good-to-Know Information


As with all essential oils, try frankincense serrata essential oil out via a test patch first. Apply a drop of the essential oil to your inner forearm and cover it up with a bandage. If there is no adverse reaction after 24 hours, frankincense serrata should be a good fit for you.


While the essential oil is generally considered to be safe, it may cause digestive side effects (including nausea, acid reflux, stomach pain, and diarrhea) in some people.


Besides that, frankincense may also accelerate menstrual flow and may even induce a miscarriage. Therefore, it is advised for those pregnant to steer clear of this essential oil.


Is Frankincense Serrata Essential Oil Right for You?


With its woodsy, mellow, and comforting scent combined with its many uses, there is really no wonder why frankincense serrata essential oil is a favorite of many. You simply cannot go wrong with this essential oil.


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