Frankincense: From Gout to a Broken Head…
The following is our modern medical proof.
It is taken from Dr. Suhail M.D.’s talk at the 2010 Essential Oil Convention in Utah. There is an enormous amount of literature and study being conducted into Frankincense essential oil, and also into Boswellic acids which are one of the key ingredients in Frankincense oil (but not in Boswellia frereana….you should use Boswellia carterii or Boswellia sacra instead). Here is a compilation of the results of some of this literature. Frankincense and/or Boswellic Acids have been shown to be effective against:
Acne – In cosmetics, used to help with acne.
Allergy – Inhibits 5 lipoxygenase enzyme, the key enzyme in the biosynthesis of leukotrienes (an inflammation indicator), so it will work for allergy, arthritis, autoimmune disease, in a similar manner to non-steroidal drugs.
Arthritis – Improves rheumatoid and osteoarthritis (India study).
Rheumatoid arthritis involves the joint capsule (swelling, inflamed synovial nerve pain) while Osteoarthritis involves joint space and cartilage (leads to more limitation in movement). 42 osteoarthritis patients were studied. Boswellic acid (one of the primary constituents in frankincense essential oil) improved the patients clinically and biochemically (ie. pain and disability were reduced), but not radiologically. Boswellic acids work well in arthritis, bursitis, and tendonitis. Inhibits 5 lipoxygenase enzyme, the key enzyme in the biosynthesis of leukotrienes (an inflammation indicator), thus it will work for allergy, arthritis, autoimmune disease, in a similar manner to non-steroidal drugs.
Works also through prevention of glycosaminoglycan degradation. Clinical studies using formulas containing Frankincense have yielded good results in both osteo and rheumatoid arthritis. An extract of frankincense resin was studied in arthritis at a dose of 3.6gm daily successfully.
Asthma – 80 patients were given boswellia gum resin preparation of 300mg 3x daily for 6 weeks. 70% of patients given the extract showed significant improvement in asthma (ie. remission). Reduces symptoms (India study).
Auto-immune disease – Inhibits 5 lipoxygenase enzyme, the key enzyme in the biosynthesis of leukotrienes (an inflammation indicator). It will work for allergy, arthritis, autoimmune disease, in a similar manner to non-steroidal drugs.
Bacteria – Used against mould and bacteria during the monsoon season (Frankincense stem bark has been tested for this).
Bronchitis – Reduces symptoms (India study).
Bursitis – Boswellic acids (found in Frankincense oil) work well in arthritis, bursitis, and tendonitis.
Cancer – Selectively kills bladder cancer cells (Oklahoma MSU).
Chemical extracts of Frankincense resins might possess anti-cancer activities, based on their anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic activities in rat astrocytoma cell lines.
Frankincense essential oil have also been shown to possess cytostatic and cytotoxic activities in multiple human cancer cell lines, including meningioma cells, leukaemia cells, hepatoma cells, melanoma cells, fibrosarcoma cells, colon cancer cells, pancreatic cancer, and prostate cancer cells.
Derivatives of boswellic acid are suitable for the palliative treatment of progressive or relapsing brain tumours
Coughs and Colds – Reduces symptoms (India study).
Traditionally used in Oman to treat coughs (anti-tussive and bronchodilator) – a few drops of resin soaked in water overnight, drink the next day.
Crohn’s Disease – India study shows that Frankincense oil aids this disease.
Endometriosis – Used in treatment of this condition (China study).
Fibroids – Used in treatment of this condition (China study).
Immune Stimulant – In an immunological study, boswellic acids have been shown to enhance polymorphneutrophils (white blood cells) = normal neutrophils.
Inflammation – Anti-inflammatory and antiseptic action (Munich University Faculty of Medicine showed that it inhibits 5 lipo-oxygenase).
Most anti-inflammatory drugs cause stomach ulcers. In contrast, Frankincense is ulcer protective, and shows selective inhibition of lipooxygenase 5 (whereas drugs can have serious side effects because they are non-selective).
Note: Dosage is important. Less than 10 micrograms/ml of boswellic acids won’t work adequately as an anti-inflammatory.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (eg. Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Ulcerative Colitis) – In inflammatory bowel disease, 2 studies were undertaken. Subjects were given a frankincense gum resin preparation, 350mg given 3 x daily for 6 weeks. Remission was 82% with the resin and 75% with sulfasalazine (the drug, given 1 g 3 x daily). Although corticosteriods are widely used in treatment of IBD, it has serious side effects. The boswellic acids have proven to be completely safe. Aids ulcerative colitis (see below).
Laryngitis – Reduces symptoms (India study).
Liver – Boswellic acids and high doses of frankincense (more than 5-6 ml twice daily) can be used if a patient has any hepatic insufficiency. Low doses of frankincense resin extract may have hepatoprotective effects. This is from Dr. Suhail’s own research.
Menstruation – Used in treatment of abnormal menstruation, or dysmenorrheas (China study).
Mould – Used against mould and bacteria during the monsoon season (Frankincense stem bark has been tested for this).
Skin care – In cosmetics, Frankincense oil is used to help with dry, chapped, mature-looking skin, acne (but not cellulites).
Skin grafts – Prevents inhibition of graft rejection to the same extent as high dose steroids.
Tendonitis – Boswellic acids work well in arthritis, bursitis, and tendonitis.
Ulcerative Colitis – Histology of colonic tissue samples of mice receiving: (a) water only (control), (b) DSS (dextran sodium sulfate) to induce ulcerative colitis, (c) DSS + beta boswellic acid, (d) DSS + dexamethasone. (India study).
How To Administer Frankincense Essential Oil
- Gastrointestinally – Oral and rectal, sublingual (under the tongue), sublabial (between teeth and gums).
- Epicutaneous – Introduction into the skin by shallow, bloodless piercing with small-gauge needles through drops of solution.
- Transdermal – Through the skin.
Naturally, how you administer it affects how much actually reaches your body. For example, when administered through IV drip, the bioavailability is 100%. However, when administered orally, the bioavailability decreases (due to incomplete absorption and first pass metabolism). When you apply Frankincense oil topically, it avoids the “first pass metabolism” (ie. liver, stomach, intestines), so it can access blood circulation faster and in larger proportion.
To be suitable for transdermal administration, a substance needs to be low molecular weight and high lipid solubility, which Frankincense (and other essential oils) are. Interestingly, different regions of our skin respond better than other regions to oil. For example, absorption through the skin is 6x better on the forehead than on the arm, and through the genitals is higher permeability than through the head and trunk. However, beware of using photosensitive oils like citrus oils on your forehead – you need to avoid direct sunlight for 24 to 72 hours!!!
And be very, very cautious about using essential oils on very sensitive skin like the genitals, as you can burn the skin there, with hot oils. If you ever get burning from the application of an essential oil, immediately put a good quality vegetable oil over the top, like V6, coconut or olive oil. You might also be interested to know that absorption through a warm skin is better than through a cool skin!
Precautions and Contraindications
Dr. Suhail’s suggested precautions when using Frankincense essential oil topically:
- Put 2 to 3 drops on the inside of the forearm to test for reaction, before using elsewhere on your body.
- Lactating women should avoid essential oils as much as possible, because essential oils can carry a hormone-like activity.
- Frankincense resin intake should be avoided when taking blood thinning medications (eg. coumadin, plavix or trental).
- 10 drops are enough for 9% of body area.
(Sharing by Catherine Burbank, Young Living Independent Distributor.)
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