Frankincense has been used for millennia in traditional medicine across eastern regions. Known for its pleasant woody, earthy aroma, frankincense resin comes from trees of the Boswellia genus native to parts of Asia and Africa. In recent years, extracts from frankincense have gained popularity as natural supplements touted to support health in various ways. Let's take a deeper look into frankincense extracts and the research around their potential benefits.


History and Traditional Uses of Frankincense

Frankincense has a long history of medicinal and spiritual uses dating back thousands of years. Boswellia trees produce a gummy resin that was harvested and used topically, inhaled, or taken internally in various preperations. Ancient civilizations like the Egyptians, Indians, and Chinese valued frankincense for its therapeutic properties. It was commonly used to support digestion, respiratory health, joint function, and overall well-being. Frankincense was also burned as incense in religious ceremonies for its pleasant aroma and believed cleansing effects.


Modern Research on Frankincense Constituents

Advances in chromatography and other identification techniques have allowed scientists to break down frankincense extracts and isolate specific bioactive compounds. Over 30 different terpenoids have been identified in frankincense resins so far. Two prominent compounds that have been studied extensively are alpha-boswellic acid (ABA) and acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid (AKBA). These pentacyclic triterpenoid compounds are thought responsible for many of frankincense's promising healing actions. Ongoing research suggests they may act as anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-tumor, and immune-modulating agents.


Potential Health Benefits of Frankincense Extracts

A growing body of scientific literature points to various ways frankincense extracts may support health and wellness. Of course, human clinical trials are still limited, but pre-clinical research has yielded encouraging results. Some of the conditions frankincense extracts are being explored for include:


- Inflammation and Pain Relief - Boswellic acids are potent anti-inflammatory compounds that inhibit leukotriene and nitric oxide production. This could make frankincense extracts effective for arthritis, back pain, and other inflammatory issues. Some studies show they may even be as effective as NSAIDs for arthritis without side effects.


- Gut Health and Digestive Issues - Tradition herbal medicine has long used frankincense for gut-related ailments like irritable bowel disease, colitis, diarrhea and constipation. Research suggests boswellic acids protect the intestinal lining and support healthy flora balance.


- Respiratory Health - Frankincense was a popular remedy for respiratory conditions like asthma in ancient times. Modern data indicates the healing terpenoids help relax smooth bronchial muscles, supporting easier breathing. Studies find extracts effective against various respiratory infections too.


- Anti-Cancer Potential - ABA and AKBA have demonstrated anti-tumor properties in pre-clinical models, potentially by inducing cell death in cancer cells and inhibiting angiogenesis. Though more study is needed, frankincense shows promise as a supportive agent especially for breast, brain, and intestinal cancers.


- Skin Health - Topical application of frankincense extracts shows anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory benefits that could help heal wounds, treat acne, reduce signs of aging, and more. Cosmetic products containing frankincense are becoming increasingly popular.


Tips for Using Frankincense Extracts

Overall, frankincense appears to be a very safe natural remedy to explore with few to no reported side effects at normal dose levels. However, it's always best to consult a holistic health practitioner before taking any herbal supplements long term, especially if taking other medications. When using frankincense extracts some guidelines to keep in mind:


- Look for standardized extracts that specify the percentage of boswellic acids like ABA and AKBA to ensure potency and consistent dosing. Reputable brands use analytical testing of each batch.


- Start with a low dose and slowly increase as needed and tolerated. Popular doses range between 100-400mg per day depending on the condition. It's often best to divide the total daily dose into two or three portions.


- While frankincense extracts can surely be taken long term as a preventative, acute issues may require higher but still safe doses under guidance. Always give new extracts 2-4 weeks to take effect before changing the protocol.


- Coconut, olive, or sesame oil are traditional delivery methods but modern capsules and topical preparations ensure proper consumption and absorption too. Always check with a practitioner before giving to children.



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