frankincense tree frankincense tree



  • Frankincense essential oil is obtained from the dried and distilled resin of the Frankincense tree, which is native to specific regions of Africa and the Middle East.

  • Frankincense oil gets its name from the term “franc encens,” which means “high-quality incense” in French. Considered to be a “pure incense,” it was the most desirable of all the other types of incense.

  • Its potent aroma can be described as woody, earthy, and spicy with a fruity nuance. Frankincense is a staple in aromatherapy due to its soothing and comforting fragrance, which many find invigorating and refreshing for the senses. 
  • Frankincense Essential Oil is known for its versatile properties. It is often used to create a calming atmosphere, support overall wellness, and promote a youthful appearance. Additionally, it is a valued ingredient in cosmetics, mindfulness practices, and for helping to maintain cleanliness in various environments. 

  • Pregnant women and individuals with bleeding disorders are warned that Frankincense is an emmenagogue that has blood thinning effects, which may increase their risk of irregular bleeding. 



Boswellia carterii, commonly known as Frankincense, is derived from the milky white sap that is secreted by the Frankincense tree. After the tree’s sap droplets are allowed to dry and harden into tear-shapes on the tree over the course of a few days, they are finally scraped off to be made into an essential oil.

The Boswellia tree is native to regions such as Africa and the southern Arabian Peninsula. The earliest and best-known source of Frankincense is the country of Oman, which has shipped this fragrant resin to regions like the Mediterranean, India, and China for thousands of years. The name of the tree comes from the term “franc encens,” which is French for “high-quality incense.” “Franc” is known to mean “pure” while “encens” comes from a word that means “to burn.” It was thus considered a “pure incense” and the most desirable of all the other types of incense. Its potent aroma can be described as woody, earthy, and spicy with a fruity nuance. For some, its scent is comparable to that of licorice.

The history of Frankincense usage has Medieval roots and is closely linked with being burned in sacred places and religious rituals, as it was valued for its powerful aroma and the white smoke it exuded when burned. It was also used in perfume, cosmetics such as eyeliner, salves, and Egyptian mummification methods. Today, there are still daily uses for Frankincense in many cultures, namely Somali, Ethiopian, Arabian, and Indian cultures. It is believed that its fragrance will cleanse the home and purify clothing. In Ayurvedic medicine, Frankincense, known as “dhoop,” is traditionally used for various purposes, including supporting overall wellbeing and purifying the air. 



The main chemical constituents of Frankincense Essential Oil include Limonene, Pinene, Borneol, Farnesol, Phellandrene, and Myrcene, among others. Limonene is recognized for its antioxidant properties and is believed to have calming effects. Pinene is commonly associated with promoting deeper breathing, while Borneol is noted for its tonic and soothing qualities. Farnesol is known for its ability to enhance the appearance of skin by smoothing the look of wrinkles and improving elasticity. 

When used topically and cosmetically, Frankincense Oil is valued for its astringent qualities, which help to improve the appearance of skin by treating areas of dryness and supporting the maintenance of healthy-looking skin. 

In aromatherapy, Frankincense a staple ingredient due to its sweet, woody aroma. It is considered calming and mood-enhancing. 

When used in traditional practices, this oil is known to have soothing effects on the skin, helping to alleviate sensations of redness and itching. It is also used to cleanse and balance the pores, which may contribute to the appearance of a smoother complexion. Additionally, Frankincense Essential Oil is valued for its potential to promote the maintenance of healthy skin and support overall wellness. 



Frankincense oil is obtained from the resin of the Boswellia carterii or Boswellia sacara tree and can thrive in a dry, rocky, desert environment requiring negligible amounts of soil. Harvesting Frankincense resin involves farmers making incisions in the tree bark until it exudes its secreted milky fluid, which it expels in the form of small “tears.” The droplets are allowed to dry on the tree for ten days, after which time they are scraped off and given another period of time to completely harden. At this dried stage, the resin looks like tiny, rough, uneven, translucent rocks.

The quality of the Frankincense tree resin depends on the climate, environmental conditions, and the harvesting period. The resin quality can be determined by its size and color – the larger and lighter the resin, the higher the quality. Although the West most often sees the golden or amber resin, the purest, most expensive resin ranges in color from clear to white or silvery with a hint of light green.

To achieve the highest quality resin, the tree is “wounded” three times. Cutting it any more than this might damage the tree, which requires a period of rest and regeneration.



At the distillery, the raw Frankincense resin “crystals” are crushed into powder and placed in an oil bath. After it undergoes steam distillation or CO2 extraction, it produces a pleasantly aromatic essential oil with a scent that has been described as earthy or woody.

As with all other essential oils, Frankincense essential oil will retain stability and have a prolonged shelf life if stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight with the cap tightly closed.



Frankincense essential oil can be added to a diffuser or vaporizer and inhaled for its sedative, earthy fragrance that is known to enhance the mood. It is believed that, in spiritual practices, the scent of Frankincense strengthens both intuition and a spiritual connection. A few drops of Frankincense added to a diffuser or mixed with water to make an air freshening spray can add a sense of renewal to your space. Sprayed in a bedroom at night, it can encourage a state of relaxation and readiness for sleep.

After dilution with a carrier oil, the oil can be absorbed into the skin via topical application. In a warm bath, a few drops of the oil can be added to promote full-body relaxation. By blending Frankincense with other essential oils and diluting the mixture, it can be used in cosmetics to make natural facial serums that target different skin concerns. In shampoos, its tonic property is believed to help support scalp health. 

Frankincense Oil can also be used as an ingredient in natural homemade cleaners to help maintain cleanliness and freshness in indoor environments. When mixed with baking soda and Lemon Essential Oil, it creates an effective scrubbing substance that can help remove grease and leave the area clean and pleasantly scented. To use it with a dishcloth, blend it with water and Thyme Essential Oil for wiping down surfaces like countertops. 



Frankincense Traditional

Boswellia carterii
Found in:
  • Southern Arabian Peninsula (United Arab Emirates, Oman, Yemen)
  • East Africa (Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan)
Believed to be:
  • Supporting youthful-looking skin 
  • Promoting skin rejuvenation 
  • Encouraging a sense of calm 
  • Contributing to a clean environment 
  • Elevating spiritual experiences 
  • Supporting overall wellness 
  • Promoting a refreshing atmosphere 
Frankincense India

Boswellia serrata
Found in:
  • India
Believed to be:
  • Deodorizing and refreshing the air 
  • Promoting a sense of comfort 
  • Enhancing concentration and spiritual practices 
  • Encouraging relaxation and emotional well-being 


As per NAHA guidelines, New Directions Aromatics (NDA) does not recommend the ingestion of essential oils. Though it is rare to experience severe side effects from using Frankincense essential oil, the following are possible symptoms of negative side effects: rashes and/or gastrointestinal distress, such as stomach pain, hyperacidity, and nausea. Those with bleeding disorders or those on anti-coagulant medications are warned that Frankincense has blood thinning effects that may increase their risk of irregular bleeding.

As is the case with all essential oils, it is imperative to consult a medical practitioner before using Frankincense essential oil for therapeutic purposes. Pregnant women are strongly advised against using Frankincense essential oil, due to its emmenagogue properties, which may induce menstruation that can be hazardous for the fetus. Pregnant and nursing women who insist on using it are advised to first seek the medical guidance of a physician. The oil should always be stored in an area that is inaccessible to children.



IMPORTANT: All New Directions Aromatics (NDA) products are for external use only unless otherwise indicated. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, and it should not be used by anyone who is pregnant or under the care of a medical practitioner. Please refer to our policies for further details, and our disclaimer below.

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