The health benefits of frankincense oil can be attributed to its long list of properties. It’s antimicrobial, anti-fungal, antiseptic and antiviral. In more recent years, science has begun to explore the uses of the oil in controlled studies with promising results that support many of the medicinal uses involving frankincense oil by people for over five thousand years. The studies also help to introduce new ways that the oil can be used, both in daily life and in more serious conditions, paving the way for a bright future for frankincense oil.
The treatment of cancer is always being explored and in more recent years, essential oils have started to receive a lot of attention as a possible natural and effective treatment with little to no side effects. A study at the University of Oklahoma showed that frankincense oil was able to destroy bladder cancer cells without damaging the healthy surrounding tissues. A study conducted in 2000 by Chinese researchers indicated that frankincense oil possesses anti-carcinogenic and anti-tumor properties. The oil’s components showed positive results against a variety of malignant cells, specifically in individuals suffering from brain tumors and leukemia. The Cancer Research of the University of Nevada used frankincense oil to treat cervical cancer. Their results showed that there was 72% inhibition and growth of non-cancerous cells. Some studies also show that frankincense stimulates the immune system and also has the ability to repair DNA, which could be critical in treating progressed cancers.
In order to frankincense oil to be considered as a viable treatment option for cancer, more in depth research is required. However, there is very little funding for frankincense research because of the oil’s high price. When compared to the price of chemotherapy though, frankincense research regarding cancer could not only lead to an effective treatment but also a more affordable option.
When part of the body becomes inflamed, it is a sign of pathogens, damaged cells or irritants. The inflammation is actually necessary for the healing to begin but it can be uncomfortable and make even the simplest of tasks more difficult. Many essential oils have been used for centuries as a treatment for sore muscles and joints but we now have scientific research that suggests this treatment is more than just an old wive’s tale.
A randomized, double-blind and placebo controlled clinical trial focused on the effects of frankincense oil when administered to patients suffering from inflammation in random parts of the body. The study showed encouraging results. 75 participants were involved and received either 100 mg or 250 mg of frankincense extract each day for 3 months. Results were recorded on days 7, 30, 60 and 90. At the end of the study, both dosage sizes showed significant improvements in pain scores and physical function scores. Some participants reported improvements in as little as 7 days. A follow up study was also conducted using frankincense extract from different subspecies of the plant, with similar results.
Anxiety and Depression
Anxiety and depression have quickly become two of the most diagnosed mental conditions in the world, especially in the United States. Prescribed medications are becoming more common but as more research is conducted on these drugs, some negative side effects are coming to light. A recent study showed a link between anti-anxiety medications and dementia. This is just one of the many reasons that people are looking for a more natural way to aid their anxiety and depression. A very recent study in 2014 focused on essential oils and their effects on negative thoughts and stressful situations. 58 hospice patients were administered hand massages once a day for a week with a blend of essential oils and sweet almond oil. The blend consisted of bergamot, frankincense and lavender. All of the patients who participated reported less depression at the end of the week. While there is no data based on each individual oil, frankincense oil is definitely deserving of more research to see if it could be a natural treatment to one of the most common conditions in the United States.
Scientific studies have found conflicting results when using frankincense oil in the following circumstances. A large amount of frankincense users have still benefited from the oil though when using it for these conditions.
- Anti-Aging Effects: Limited research suggests that the application of frankincense infused cream to the fact may reduce fine lines, roughness and sun damage. While skin coloring and wrinkles were not improved, there is still room for more research regarding frankincense oil and minimizing the physical changes of aging.
- Asthma: There are many essential oils that may be able to help with the symptoms of asthma and frankincense is one of them. However, while some people benefit from inhaling the oil, others react much more negatively and the oil may actually trigger an attack. Much more research is needed in this area and if you do chose to use frankincense or any other essential oil as a way to manage asthma symptoms, always do so with caution and never rely on the oil to stop an attack.
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A small study showed that taking 400 mg of frankincense 3 times a day for 6 weeks reduced the symptoms of this disease but the results were not strong enough to pursue this treatment option in depth. Similar results were found in relation to Crohn’s disease, but again, findings have not been consistent enough to encourage more studies.
When using frankincense oil, always dilute it before applying topically, and only after a test patch has been conducted. Avoid contact with the eyes, mucus membranes and sensitive areas. If inhaling the oil, only do so for a few minutes at a time and only diffuse the oil for fifteen minutes out of every hour. While it is safe to add to food and drinks, it should never be consumed alone and can be dangerous in large amounts. Always keep frankincense oil out of the reach of children and pets.