Since travelling in the Middle east and Africa, I haven’t been writing as much as I should. My apologies.
Lots of great new business opportunities, connections and relationships, especially around free trade, sustainability of resources, ethics of commerce, and general free and happy exchanges for all in the Frankincense trade, my favourite topics.
While travelling, I am setting up a new website and online store that specializes in ethical, sustainable and free trade Frankincense and Myrrh varieties. Not as easy to source as one might think. I may throw in some hand harvested Labdanum and mastic along the way, but first, I am aiming for 6 types of Frankincense and at least three types of medicinal and fragrant Myrrh. Oleoresins and essential oils. One can aspire..
Dealing directly with cooperative managers who are actively reinvesting profits into improving living standards for the harvesting families and clans is exiting and inspiring. I will be sure to fill in the details once wi-fi is more consistent.
The long row of cowboy boots portrayed in a photo that you will find in my “About” gallery to the right, is a fairly accurate account of how many cowboy boots I usually have in use at the same time. I rotate, have favourites and standbys, replace them with new or used pairs as they each in turn, transcend to the great beyond where holey boots go. High , or low Cuban heels, but pointy evil toes are the best.
Travelling in hot Mediterranean and African climates, wearing cowboy boots, may seem impractical, but, did I bring any other type of footwear with me?
Will I be remembered in far away places as the gentleman with the twirly moustache? Or the silly foreigner who wore cowboy boots in the hot sun?
Only time will tell..
What I won’t be however, is the silly foreigner who wore smelly cowboy boots in the hot sun.
I discovered that a few drops of Frankincense Rivae essential oil on socks or between toes, works miracles. This should be considered the sacred Frankincense as far as I’m concerned. A lifesaver for those one travels with. My feet, socks, boots, and probably my breath, are always fragrant!! None of the usual Cedar, Tea Tree and other essential oils have had any positive effect.
Summer boots used to come off in private only, with plenty of ventilation and fresh air. Not anymore.
Today, the little lightbulb in my brain finally went off, when I suddenly “Got” what that extra, sweet fragrance is, that distinguishes Boswellia Rivae from all other types of Frankincense. I think my feet or boots had sucked up all the actual “Frankincense” fragrance, and what was left was pure Palo Santo. Yes! Palo Santo! That is the perfect description that has waited on the tip of my tongue all along.
Mind you the Frankincense has likely been increasing blood circulation to my brain cells, leading to improved mental function and concentration, and this very kind of “Ahah” scenario.
Of course I have read umpteen times that the Palo Santo tree is of the Burseraceae, the same family as the Frankincense trees. But till today, could not name that extra fragrance in B. Rivae as Palo Santo. Sweet, sacred, yummy Palo Santo and rich warm Frankincense mingled and mixed, and dancing a little dervish together in the deserts of Ethiopia. Now there is a sexy spring image. Birds and bees and resins in the trees. Now perhaps you can understand why I go on so about “Sweet Frankincense Rivae” in my posts and in the store.
On the subject already, it is important to note that, (at this time), among the 3 types of Frankincense that are indigenous to Ethiopia, only Boswellia Rivae is collected through a cooperative. Thus guaranteeing a fair price to the collectors, many of whom have family traditions of caring for and harvesting from the trees for generations, and who rely on much of their yearly income from the fragrant resins they collect.
Collectives are one of the most effective grassroots mechanisms for social, economic, ecological and even political change. There is nothing like people working together for their mutual benefit. I think it’s a beautiful thing, makes the world a more beautiful, fragrant, abundant and peaceful place. One plant at a time. And I like to support them anyway I can.
I imagine I will likely ask you to join me in supporting these Frankincense cooperatives in the near future. Abundance for all I say!
Unfortunately, due to the great demand, expanding roads and agriculture, fires, overgrazing, improper harvesting methods, and over harvesting, the more famous Ethiopian Frankincense, Boswellia Papyrifera, has suffered, and the numbers of healthy resin bearing trees has been steadily dropping. Stressed trees are yielding only 16% seed viability as opposed to 80% in healthy trees.
This has not gone unnoticed and one has to admire the many and varied efforts, the ongoing investment of resources and manpower the Ethiopian government, research institutions and conservation authorities are committing to correct this trend. From educating growers and harvesters, to propagating, supplying, planting and protecting viable nursery stock, and funding ongoing research into ways of maintaining the sustainability of this ancient and treasured crop, they continue to come up with new and improved methods to reverse the downward trend.
Frankincense Papyrifera is used extensively by orthodox churches around the world, it is a traditional incense used daily by Ethiopians in their coffee ceremonies, (which means it is used A LOT), and a major natural resource traded globally. Boswellia Papyrifera is a pretty special Frankincense.
It doesn’t yield a lot of essential oil when distilled, often less than 5%, and it is hard to find it on the market, but it is one oleoresin and essential oil that everyone should experience at least once in their lives. It is the most mellow, inspiring, dignified, self-assured and lofty Frankincense… B. Papyrifera has the highest content of incensole and incensole acetate of all the Frankincense family, which are its own special identifying markers in the laboratory, those psychoactive compounds that can create feelings of heightened spirituality and wellbeing, reduce depression and anxiety in laboratory studies.
So from an ethical and sustainable point of view we have covered 2 out of 3 of Ethiopia’s unique Frankincense types. We have one left. ( No I won’t neglect the Neglecta, if that’s what you were thinking,,) Though B. Neglecta may not have the fame and market demand of its brothers in the perfume world, it is a valuable medicinal. Its most obvious properties are as a decongestant and rubificant. Though seemingly neglected, there have been almost no studies done on this unique medicinal, and references used here are from my own use, and experience of its effects on myself and others.
Perhaps neglected for not being as exotic, conspicuous or just for its name. I believe Frankincense Neglecta is actually holding its own in the background of the local ecology, safely hidden from the limelight and over harvesting.
Similar to Fir and Spruce oleoresins, the fragrance of B. Neglecta is grounding and elevating, it leaves one inhaling easily and deeply. It rounds out the sharp corners of anxiety and panic in the chest, calming the heart and the pangs associated with stress,while it helps break up phlegm, and expel it.
Not a bad days work for an unappreciated tree. There is no Frankincense type that is better for coughs, colds and congestion than Frankincense Neglecta. For instructions on how to make your own Frankincense Neglecta whole oleoresin medicated chest rub, please see my post“Frankincense oil, a cough, cold and chest rub.
So, travelling tips, consider sandals next time you travel, and take some exhilarating brain boosting Boswellia Rivae with you. Disinfectant and definitely a mood elevator. It is almost a complete perfume on its own. I have no doubt that if you try it, you too will fall in love with it. Especially if you have a weakness for Palo Santo.
Travelling with a cold, cough or congestion? Frankincense Neglecta oil in a steam inhalation, or mixed with olive oil 20 drops essential oil to 1/2 cup Olive or any vegetable oil, is an effective and fragrant item to keep in your first aid kit and rub on your chest day and night.
Frankincense Papyrifera? Well, if you have the opportunity to smell it fresh, burned or as an essential oil, don’t pass on it . You won’t know what you are missing!
And buy some sandals already!