Not the essential oil
Our recent obsession with Frankincense essential oil can easily blind us to the plethora of therapeutic compounds found in the whole oleo gum resin and is no doubt increasing the pressure we are putting on trees that are already over-harvested and over-burdened with our growing demand for Frankincense essential oil.
A Holistic approach
The following gem is borrowed from one of the linked studies below. I couldn’t have said it better myself.
“However, exclusive focus on individual biochemical targets neglects the fact that strong synergy of multiple constituents in a crude drug may prove more potent and effective than any single purified compound, or that interactions of co-occurring phytochemicals may help nullify the toxic effects of individual constituents. So while it is important to understand the active agents within medicinal plants, it should also be with caution that we extract and use constituents in isolation.”Kurt Schnaubelt,
Traditional therapeutic benefits of Frankincense
Frankincense tea has a broad range of traditional therapeutic applications..
- As a sexual tonic and aphrodisiac
- To increase fertility in men and women.
- To stimulate brain function, memory and intelligence
- As a home remedy for coughs, colds and congestion
- To reduce the pain and inflammation associated with Arthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis
- As a treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Alleviating respiratory complaints such as Asthma and Bronchitis.
- To treat diabetes.
- To ease the irritation of urinary tract inflammations
A teaspoon of Frankincense tears steeped overnight in water is a traditional healing formula that has been around for hundreds if not thousands of years
An aqueous solution and emulsion
I found no research that enumerated all the chemical constituents delivered through an aqueous solution of Frankincense. However, it is safe to assume that the emulsion created by an infusion of Frankincense in water is similar in composition to the fresh tears and delivers both the water-soluble gum and the oil-soluble resin acids, (including the Boswellic acids), which are today considered the most sought after therapeutic compounds in Frankincense.
How to prepare Frankincense tea
The traditional ratio of Frankincense granules to water is about a teaspoon of tears to 1 or 2 cups of water.
- Place a teaspoon of Frankincense tears in a cup, mug or bowl. large tears can be pulverized or crushed with a mortar or pestle, or by putting the tears in a ziplock bag and bruising them with a hammer.
- Add 1-2 cups, (250-500 Milliliters) of room-temperature water. Some people use boiling water though I can’t say if one method is better than the other. Both seem to yield the same results.
- Cover the container with a saucer or plastic wrap and let it sit overnight.
- Sip the tea/infusion throughout the next day.
- If you prepare too much you can keep it in the fridge for a day or two.
- If you want to prepare a larger amount for future use, freeze it in ice cube trays, then store the frozen cubes in Ziploc bags in the freezer. Thaw them as needed. they should keep well for up to 6 months.
- Remember, traditional use suggests consuming small amounts throughout the day. It is likely more beneficial to consistently drink a cup or two slowly throughout the day than to consume large quantities over a short period.
- Listen to your body, and don’t overdo it.
- Often, the tears can be infused in water once more and still colour the water.
- When they are spent they can be consumed, (washed down with water or taken with food), and a new batch prepared.
- Though there are no major side effects to consuming too much Frankincense, if you experience digestive discomfort in any way, take a break and moderate your intake.
Which types of Frankincense are best suited to making a tea?
Not all Frankincense types are suited to this type of preparation. Some Frankincense resins have no water-soluble gum and will not create an emulsion when steeped in water. If the solution does not turn white or cloudy overnight, know that the resin acids are not included in the “Tea”.
The following species of Frankincense are the best suited and most popular types for this application and contain water soluble gum. Click on the links for a detailed description of each type.
- Frankincense Carterii
- Frankincense Dalzielii
- Frankincense Papyrifera
- Frankincense Sacra
- Frankincense Serrata
Not suitable for teas
Though Frankincense Rivae, Neglecta and Frereana contain many therapeutic compounds, their lack of water-soluble gum means their resin acids will not be delivered through an emulsion.
Laboratory studies of the tea, infusion or aqueous extract/solution of Frankincense support many of the traditional uses. Below, are a few of the studies I came across. I urge you to do your own research. An online query such as “Frankincense tea” or”Frankincense infusion” won’t yield many results. However, if you phrase your search, “Aqueous solution of Boswellia”, or something similarly scientific, you will be well rewarded. I have by no means collated everything there is, and can’t judge the veracity of all the studies, but a few hours searching proved fruitful and educational. The potential benefits of a simple tea of Frankincense are extensive and yet to be fully explored. Here are a few.
- To increase fertility in both sexes-https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jhs/53/4/53_4_365/_pdf
- To reduce cholesterol, protect the liver and kidneys.-https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15991575
- To reduce inflammation and trauma after stroke-http://jssu.ssu.ac.ir/page/11/Journal-Information
- To act as an antioxident and anti Diabetic-http://jjnpp.com/?page=article&article_id=6755
- To increase memory and learning abilities-http://zums.ac.ir/journal/browse.php?a_id=2886&sid=1&slc_lang=en
- To increase the power of memory and learning in adult offspring-http://en.journals.sid.ir/ViewPaper.aspx?ID=48926
- As an antibacterial-shaik20ismail20mannur20et20al
- Treating dementia and Alzheimer’s disease-effect-of-frankincense-as-on-alzheimers-disease-model
- To prevent or treat rheumatoid Arthritis other autoimmune inflammatory Diseases-Analysis of Frankincense Extracts which Inhibit the Growth of Bacterial Triggers
- To address memory impairment-https://www.researchgate.net/publication/305636410_
- As an analgesic and anti-inflammatory-anti-inflammatory-and-analgesic-activity-of-different-fractions of Boswelia Serrata
- As a neuroprotective agent-http://jssu.ssu.ac.ir/article-1-3586-en.html
Studies like these remind me how much we don’t yet know about nature, our bodies and diseases. There is so much more for us all to learn. It also tells me that our obsession with taking things apart and consuming individual active compounds, ( such as essential oils), is likely to our detriment, that of the land and the plant species that give us our medicine.
This is an updated version of a popular post. originally published in 2017.