The aromatic resin of the Boswellia tree, frankincense, is heralded as one of the three gifts given to baby Jesus, along with myrrh (another resin), and gold. Both frankincense and myrrh were valued equally, if not more, than gold. Its traditional use in religious and cultural ceremonies, however, extends back even further; for over 5000 years, frankincense been traded throughout India, North Africa, and the Arabian Peninsula.
Its fragrant fumes, when wafted about or burned in a diffuser, are associated with purification and confer a spiritually uplifting energy to its use in ceremonies, including meditation. This uplifting effect is believed to be due to regulation of certain emotional responses in the brain by constituents in the resin that are released during burning. (Science has demonstrated that this occurs via activation of specific receptor channels that reduce anxiety and provide antidepressive effects – a biological explanation for a deeply rooted tradition!)
Frankincense also offers many therapeutic properties: The oil (CO2-distilled resin) provides anti-inflammatory relief when massaged onto arthritic joints; it can be used to help heal wounds and treat scars (I recommend it along with Helichrysum, for this purpose); and, it's a powerful immunostimulant. Its ‘psycho-aromatherapy’ qualities of alleviating anxiety and nervous tension are also extremely helpful (especially at this time of year!).
Perhaps most precious of all is Frankincense's ability to uplift the spirit - a timeless gift to all.
Happy Holidays, everyone!