Sold throughout Arabia for over 6,000 years, Olibanum, or more commonly known as frankincense, came to be considered even more valuable than gold. Its aroma indicated great richness and importance of those who possessed it.
Ancient Egyptians used frankincense during ceremonies and when embalming pharaohs, while successive Chinese dynasties imported it along the Silk Route for its use in treating ailments. It was introduced to Europe by the Frankish crusaders, who called it ‘francencens’ in ancient French (roughly translated as ‘high quality incense’), from which the modern name of frankincense is derived.
Frankincense is actually a resin harvested from the trunks of the Olibanum or Boswellia Carterii tree, an exceptionally hardy and drought-loving tree.
Boswellia trees should not be harvested more than three times a year and the best quality frankincense is said to come from the last harvest. The exuded resin hardens into amber-colored globs (almost like a beautiful bud). Also called “tears”, they are sorted by hand according to their quality and then processed, by steam distillation, into essential oil.
Although frankincense is now associated with yoga and meditation, it was its healing properties that made it such a valuable commodity in ancient times.
Frankincense contains sesquiterpenes, which stimulate the brain’s limbic system (the center of memory and emotions), the hypothalamus, the pineal gland and the pituitary gland. Combined with its rich, warm aroma, it has extraordinarily comforting properties and is very useful in helping cope with despair, stress and other related nervous conditions. It is also excellent for helping to control anxiety and fear associated with major changes in our daily lives.
Frankincense also has anti-inflammatory properties, which means it can help open up the airways and rib cage, making it really useful in helping to control conditions like asthma, bronchitis, colds and coughs. Similarly, these anti-inflammatory properties have been reported to help people with chronic conditions such as arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Frankincense is famous for its antiseptic, healing and immunity-stimulating properties, especially for helping to combat colds and flu. It is also very beneficial in the realm of skincare. You can find it in our Skinny Oil, because of its ability to help heal scars and reduce blemishes, wrinkles, and even cellulite.
International demand for frankincense has soared in the last decade, which has led many producers to take advantage of the massive exploitation of their trees by continuously harvesting low-quality resin from multiple bark cuts.
This not only damages the tree’s ability to fight disease. It also weakens its ability to reproduce successfully and significantly reduces its life span, which is why it is always important to verify that the oil comes from a sustainable harvest.
Some studies suggest that half of all current Boswellia Carterii trees are at risk of dying in the next 20 years if these unsustainable practices continue unchecked.
We believe this would be a tragedy, so we are committed to sourcing the raw material for our cosmetic products from sustainably grown frankincense. For us, it’s about providing quality over quantity in order to protect these amazing trees and the livelihoods they sustain for generations to come.