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  • Writer's pictureSimone Grove

Frankincense essential oil and cancer care

Updated: May 8

You may have read some of my previous blogs on harnessing the healing powers of essential oils (if not, start here) – detailing how incredible they can be in supporting wellbeing for patients dealing with a number of conditions, as well as enhancing overall health. Today I’m focusing on Frankincense and its amazing benefits – including some specific properties that can be beneficial for cancer patients.

What is Frankincense?

You’ll probably be familiar with Frankincense as one of the precious gifts offered to Jesus by the three wise men in the traditional Christmas story - but what is it, and why has it been so coveted and valued for many thousands of years?

Frankincense is made using the highly scented, sticky resin of the Boswellia tree, which is native to India, Africa and the Middle East. The medicinal benefits of Frankincense were first thought to have been detailed in Ayurvedic texts – the ancient medicinal practice which began in India and is still widely used today.

Warm, woody, spicy and earthy, the scent of Frankincense is incredibly calming and grounding and has also been used in perfumes for millennia alongside its abundant medicinal uses.

Why is Frankincense beneficial?

Frankincense essential oil has a number of wonderful properties that make it beneficial for human health. It can be inhaled, absorbed through the skin and also ingested (but it’s important to do so under the guidance of an alternative medical practitioner – more on this below).

Frankincense is used extensively in Ayurveda for a number of ailments and concerns including nourishing joints and muscles, rejuvenating the skin, supporting hormone balance in women and detoxification. In recent years studies have been conducted, with proven benefits emerging including enhanced gut health, relief from asthma and a reduction in pain caused by arthritis. Like other essential oils, Frankincense contains naturally abundant chemical compounds that have a therapeutic and positive impact on certain areas of the body without any side effects.

As is the case with many ‘alternative’ treatments, scientific studies and research is somewhat lacking, but there is substantial and strong anecdotal evidence to support its benefits.

Frankincense essential oil and cancer care

In addition to its many other benefits for health Frankincense shows promising and exciting benefits for people living with cancer – a claim that has in fact been explored and substantiated by a number of preliminary studies.

In two independent test-tube studies, Boswellic acids were found to prevent cancer cells from spreading, whilst another showed that they can also limit cancer cell growth in breast, colon, prostate, pancreatic and skin cancers.

Frankincense of course is not to be used in lieu of regular medical treatment for cancer – but it can certainly support it. In another study focused on brain tumours a regular, controlled intake of Boswellic acid actually lowered the dose of pharmaceutical medication participants needed to take through reducing fluid on the brain.

Frankincense is also wonderful as an accompaniment to medical cancer care as it helps to alleviate side effects of common cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, such as stress, digestive discomfort and inflammation.

Using Frankincense essential oil to optimise health

As always, my guidance on using essential oils comes with a warning – do so carefully, always dilute, never consume (unless under the guidance of a professional) and be sure to source very high quality, premium pure oils. There are many products out there claiming to be pure but containing toxic chemicals, so being mindful of provenance is key.

Essential oils are versatile and easy to use – anyone can use them, anytime! Some creative ways to incorporate Frankincense daily include:

  • Self-massage, mixed with a carrier oil to soothe sore or aching joints

  • Inhaled whenever needed for a mood boost

  • Added to bath salts for a restorative soak

  • Added to skin oil for a relaxing facial treatment

For cancer support, Frankincense and Boswellic acid extracts may be more effective than essential oils. Be sure to source these carefully and where possible under the guidance of a trained integrative health professional or nutritionist.

Learn more about my integrative approach to cancer care combining holistic and clinical treatment pathways and insights here:

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