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All about Frankincense (Boswellia carterii) essential oil

The Origins of Frankincense – Boswellia carterii

Boswellia Carterii essential oil is a precious natural substance derived from the resin of the Boswellia carterii tree. Let’s take a closer look at this remarkable oil, the tree it comes from, and how it’s harvested and transformed into the essential oil we know today.

About the Plant

Boswellia carterii is a small, knotty tree native to the arid regions of the Arabian Peninsula and Northeast Africa. It has distinctive paper bark and gnarled branches, and thrives in some of the world’s most challenging environments. This resilient tree has adapted to endure extreme heat and limited water availability. This makes it a true survivor in arid landscapes.

The tree’s significance goes beyond its natural adaptability. For centuries, it has played a central role in local economies, serving as a source of both resin and traditional medicine.

Resin Collection and Essential Oil Production

The skilled harvesters begin by making small incisions in the bark of the tree. These deliberate cuts trigger the tree’s defence mechanism, causing it to release a sticky, fragrant resin. Over time, this resin hardens into small golden nuggets, often referred to as “tears.”

The tears are carefully distilled to extract fragrant compounds. Steam distillation is the preferred method for producing the best quality essential oil. The resin tears are heated with steam, and the volatile aromatic compounds are captured and condensed into a pure essential oil. Using a low temperature and pressure ensures that the full spectrum of therapeutic compounds are extracted.

The resulting essential oil has a fresh, balsamic aroma. It has a multitude of uses which we will explore in more detail.

Cultural Significance

The cultural significance of Frankincense spans millennia. It is deeply intertwined with spiritual practices and traditions. Let’s explore the rich tapestry of history and beliefs surrounding this remarkable oil.

Ancient Traditions

Frankincense holds a prominent place in historical and spiritual practices. The aromatic resin was one of the most sought-after commodities along the ancient trade routes, including the famous Silk Road. It was highly prized not only for its fragrant qualities but also for its versatile uses.

In the Christian tradition, Frankincense is famously known as one of the three gifts presented to the infant Jesus by the Three Wise Men. The aromatic smoke of burning Frankincense was believed to carry prayers to the heavens. To this day, Frankincense is used in Christian churches during religious ceremonies.

Spiritual Significance

Frankincense’s significance extends far beyond Christianity. It has been a common element in religious ceremonies across different faiths. In Islam, burning Frankincense is a tradition that signifies purification. It also represents the presence of the divine during prayer and is a symbol of protection against negative energies.

The use of Boswellia carterii isn’t limited to just these two major religions. Hindu and Buddhist practices also incorporate the resin and its oil into their rituals. Frankincense is believed to help create a serene and meditative atmosphere. This makes it an integral part of meditation and mindfulness practices.

Therapeutic Uses

Frankincense has been used for its therapeutic properties for centuries. It was said to have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. For this reason it forms a key part of Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine.

In the modern world, the soothing qualities of Frankincense are used to promote relaxation and emotional balance. Its use extends to skincare and massage, where it is valued for its rejuvenating and skin-supporting properties.


Like all essential oils, Frankincense oil is a complex mixture of aromatic compounds. These contribute individually to its therapeutic properties as well as bringing synergistic effects. Let’s explore the key chemical components that make this oil unique.

Main Chemical Components

  • Alpha-Pinene: This compound imparts a fresh, woody note to the oil’s fragrance. Alpha-pinene is known for its anti-inflammatory and bronchodilator properties. These promote easier breathing and relaxation.
  • Limonene: Limonene is responsible for the oil’s citrusy and uplifting scent. It is associated with mood-enhancing effects and is often used to create an atmosphere of positivity and well-being.
  • Incensole Acetate: This compound is unique to Frankincense oils. It is associated with their calming and meditative effects. Incensole acetate has been studied for its potential to reduce the effects of everyday stresses and strains.

Aroma Profile

The aroma of Frankincense carterii is a captivating and multi-layered sensory experience. Here’s a breakdown of the elements that contribute to this aromatic bouquet:

  • Warm resin: The warm, woody base note in the scent is reminiscent of the Boswellia carterii resin from which the oil is derived. This deep, balsamic quality is what defines Frankincense.
  • Subtle sweetness: A delicate sweetness adds a comforting and harmonizing touch to the fragrance.
  • Earthy undertones: Frankincense’s aroma carries earthy undertones and a sense of being rooted in the natural world.
  • Citrus notes: What makes Frankincense truly unique is the presence of a subtle citrus note. It’s unusual to find limonene, a compound typically associated with lemons, in the heartwood of a tree. They citrus notes can vary with different types of Frankincense – some have a more lemony note and in others it is reminiscent of orange.


Wild-harvested Frankincense Oils

A substantial portion of Frankincense oil is sourced from trees growing in the wild. The key to sustainability in wild-harvesting lies in the responsible and ethical collection of resin from these trees.

When conducted with care and precision, the practice of wild-harvesting can be sustainable. It involves making deliberate incisions in the tree’s bark to allow the resin to flow out naturally. Properly managed, this method ensures the health and vitality of the tree, allowing it to continue producing resin for years to come. In this way, wild-harvesting does not deplete the ecosystem or endanger the Frankincense trees.

Organic Frankincense Oils

The production of organic essential oils introduces a layer of accountability and traceability. While wild-growing trees are not typically treated with chemicals, organic certification ensures that the entire process, from tree to oil, adheres to strict organic standards.

One of the primary benefits of organic certification in this context is traceability and auditing. It offers consumers the assurance that the oil has been produced in a manner consistent with organic principles. This certification adds an extra layer of confidence for those seeking environmentally responsible options.

How to Use Boswelli carterii Essential Oil

Frankincense oil offers a wide array of applications that can enhance your well-being and daily life. Let’s explore the diverse methods for using this essential oil effectively and safely.


Diffusion is a popular method for enjoying the aroma of this beautiful oil. You can use an essential oil diffuser to disperse the fragrance throughout your space. This method is an excellent way to create a serene and calming ambiance. Perfect for relaxation, meditation, or setting a peaceful mood in your home.

Add 5-7 drops of Frankincense oil to your diffuser along with water, and let the calming aroma fill the air.

Topical Application

Applying Frankincense carterii oil directly to your skin can offer a range of benefits. It is important to dilute the essential oil with a carrier oil, such as Coconut or Jojoba, to ensure safe and comfortable use.

For relaxation, blend 2-3 drops of Frankincense oil with 1 tablespoon of a carrier oil and massage it into your wrists or the back of your neck.


Massage is an excellent way to experience the therapeutic properties of Frankincense. At the same time you will enjoy the soothing touch of a massage. When used in a massage oil blend, Frankincense can promote relaxation and provide relief for tired muscles.

Create a massage blend by mixing 5-10 drops of Frankincense oil with 15ml (a tablespoon) of carrier oil, and enjoy a calming massage.


Aromatic baths can be a luxurious and rejuvenating experience. Incorporating Frankincense oil into your bath can help you relax, unwind, and promote overall well-being.

Mix 5-10 drops of Frankincense carterii with a small amount of bath salts or an unscented shower gel before adding it to your bath for a tranquil soak.

Personal Inhalation

Personal inhalation is a convenient way to enjoy the benefits of Frankincense on the go. You can use a personal inhaler stick or simply inhale the oil directly from the bottle. This promotes relaxation and emotional balance throughout your day.

Keep a personal inhaler with a few drops of Frankincense oil in your bag or pocket for quick and easy access to its calming effects.

Contraindications & General Safety

While Boswellia carterii Essential Oil is generally safe for most people, it’s essential to be aware of a few considerations:

Before applying Frankincense oil topically, perform a patch test to check for any skin sensitivity or irritation. Dilute the oil and apply a small amount to your skin. Wait 24 hours to ensure there is no adverse reaction.
If you are pregnant or nursing, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before using essential oils.

If you are taking medications or have underlying health conditions, check with a practitioner.

Blending & Recipes

Boswellia carterii is a versatile essential oil that combines well with many other oils. Let’s explore some blending ideas and practical recipes for incorporating this precious oil into your daily life.

Blending Frankincense with Other Essential Oils

Frankincense blends beautifully with a wide range of essential oils. Here are some suggested pairings and their potential benefits:

Lavender: The calming properties of Lavender combine with Frankincense’s grounding qualities. Perfect for relaxation and emotional balance.

Citrus Oils (Lemon, Orange, Grapefruit): The fresh and uplifting scents of citrus oils complement the warm, resinous aroma of Frankincense. A refreshing and stimulating blend.

Peppermint: Pairing Frankincense with Peppermint brings both relaxation and invigoration.

Myrrh: Combining Frankincense with Myrrh creates a sacred and meditative aroma. This pairing has been used historically in spiritual and wellness rituals.

Cedar: The woody and grounding scent of Cedar harmonizes with Frankincense. An excellent choice for meditation and relaxation.


Here are a few practical recipes to get you started with incorporating Frankincense into your daily life:

Relaxing Diffuser Blend

• 3 drops Frankincense
• 3 drops Lavender
• 2 drops Orange

This blend is perfect for winding down after a long day. Add the essential oil drops to your diffuser and enjoy the soothing aroma.

Uplifting Room Spray

• 10 drops Frankincense
• 5 drops Lemon
• 4 ounces distilled water

Combine the essential oils with distilled water in a spray bottle. Shake well before use, and spritz it around your living space for an uplifting atmosphere.

Soothing Massage Oil

• 5 drops Frankincense
• 5 drops Lavender
• 2 tablespoons Jojoba oil

Mix the essential oils with Jojoba oil and use it for a calming and rejuvenating massage.

As we’ve journeyed through the origins, aroma, chemistry, sustainability, and various applications of Boswellia Carterii essential oil, also known as Frankincense oil, it becomes clear that this precious oil holds a special place in the world of aromatherapy and wellness.

Why not start your own journey with Frankincense? Embrace its remarkable properties and discover how it can enhance your life and well-being. Whether you’re a long-time enthusiast of essential oils or just beginning to explore their benefits, Frankincense has something to offer everyone.

Oshadhi’s range of Frankincense essential oils

Whilst Frankincense carterii is one of the best known and most researched types of Frankincense, Oshadhi offers a range of Frankincense oils from different species.

Frankincense carterii

Frankincense carterii organic

Frankincense carterii CO2

Frankincense carterii CO2 organic

Frankincense serrata

Frankincense sacra