Frankincense, the original Christmas gift, is the aromatic resin that, according to the apostle Matthew, the Biblical Magi brought as an offering to the sacred Bethlehem nativity. Once abundant, frankincense is now threatened with near-extinction, as the trees that provide the ancient resin are listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.
The Biblical incense frankincense, historically referred to as olibanum, was an extract from the resin of the tree Boswellia sacra. For ancient civilization, frankincense was often referred to as “liquid gold” and was considered to be a highly prized commodity for trade and commerce. It was often given as a ceremonial or religious gift, or used for health, well-being, and beauty.
Boswellia resin has been used throughout human history, as well as in modern times for it’s varied pharmacological properties, in particular as an anti-inflammatory compound. The ancient Egyptians called frankincense resin the ‘sweat of the gods’. When the mythical Phoenix rose from the ashes, it was said to have built a nest from Boswellia branches, and subsisted on frankincense resin for survival.
Boswellia is a genus of 19 trees of the order Sapindales, and are endemic to tropical regions of Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and Asia. Frankincense is derived from four species, including Boswellia sacra, the source of doTERRA’s frankincense essential oil, and believed to be the tree with Biblical notoriety. Boswellia sacra is characterized by a thin bark with various stages of peeling, tangled branches with leaves clustered at the end of the branches. Boswellia trunks often have a bifurcated appearance. Boswellia trees reach upwards of 8 meters and are commonly found growing on rocky slopes and along coastal mountains. Boswellia sacra is native to Ethiopia, northern Somalia, south-western Oman, and southern Yemen.
Tree resin, also known as sap, has a high viscosity and serves to protect the tree from damage to the bark (think of it as a skin serum for trees). For centuries this resin has been harvested by making an incision into the tree, known as slashing, which produces large amounts of resin. After the resin is secreted from the tree it is scraped off or can be collected as it drips to the ground. doTERRA harvesting involves careful scoring or bleeding of Boswellia trees to ensure the practice is sustainable, allowing the tree to thrive and survive. Once the resin is harvested, it is distilled in order to product a Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade (CPTG) essential oil extract.
One Boswellia sacra tree can produce several pounds of resin annually. With proper care and sustainable harvesting practices, these precious trees will produce resin for hundreds of years.
Healing Properties of the King
doTERRA’s Frankincense oil is primarily produced from the resin of the Boswellia sacra tree, however over the past few years, doTERRA® has collaborated with scientists to create an improved therapeutic chemical profile of frankincense by sourcing B. carterii & B. frereana in addition to B. sacra. Each of these species has unique characteristics and chemical profiles that, when combined through a science-based approach, can enhance the therapeutic potential of frankincense.
Known as the king of essential oils, frankincense is the oil many turn to for a wide range of health and wellness support. When in doubt, get the ‘Frank’ out! This powerhouse essential oil is revered for its ability to promote a healthy cellular function, to support immune health, and to balance the inflammatory response, as well as to rejuvenate and support healthy skin.
The aroma of frankincense oil is both clean and woodsy, with a slightly warm and spicy undertone. Inhaling frankincense promotes feelings of comfort, peace, relaxation, and overall wellness. Today frankincense is cherished among the doTERRA essential oil community, and this is evident in the way it is sourced, harvested, and utilized.
Frankincense essential oil is comprised of a complex mixture of monoterpenes, including alpha-Pinene, Limonene, alpha-Thujene, & beta-Pinene. The unique chemical constituents contribute to the range of benefits that Frankincense provides for health and well-being. To learn more about the chemical components found in frankincense or other essential oils, including research publications with frankincense and its constituents, please contact me and I would be happy to provide you with some guidance and references.
I am currently hooked on frankincense and wild orange! I’ve been wearing these layered scents, and diffuse them in my office to bring the inspiration of abundance into my mindset. I’ve also been adding a drop of frankincense, a drop of geranium, and two drops of wild orange to my water lately for refreshing and cleansing hydration.
Frankincense oil blends well with citrus oils (think lime, lemon, and wild orange), and is heavenly with floral oils (rose, geranium) and sandalwood.
doTERRA Co-Impact Sourcing & Sustainable Harvesting
Despite its long history as a sacred plant, Boswellia trees today are threatened with extinction across much of their native habitat. According to a December 2011 study published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, Boswellia trees are threatened with anthropogenic pressures that could reduce their numbers by 90 percent in the next 50 years.
Harvesting Frankincense resin is a delicate process that takes over five months to complete, involving careful planning and precise technique. Frankincense harvesters often trek by foot long distances from their homes in order to harvest the resin. Once the resin has been harvested, it is carefully cleaned, separated, and organized (by size and color) by the women of the community.
Due to the labor intensity, frankincense harvesters are often unable to sell resin for a fair price. doTERRA’s Co-Impact Sourcing Initiative in Somalia provides frankincense harvesters with greater opportunities for income by eliminating the middlemen in the commerce chain and agreeing upon a direct collaboration with fair trade wages and a sustainable business model.
doTERRA also participates in research on the health and population viability of Boswellia trees in Somalia. A scientific team investigated the impact of drought on the population and their viability, the first study of its kind in Somalia.
doTERRA Co-Impact Sourcing Initiative in Somalia
The doTERRA Co-Impact Sourcing Initiative provides frankincense harvesters with fair wages and prompt payments (including food and cash prepayments throughout the year) by working around the layers of middlemen and rather working directly with those who harvest and sort the frankincense. This arrangement provides a much more stable and reliable income to frankincense harvesters. doTERRA’s business model also ensures that the cleaning and sorting of resin takes place as close to the harvesting locations as possible to allow women sorters to remain close to their community. This initiative also ensures that these women receive fair wages, and provides a favorable, comfortable, and safe working environment.
Somalia is a land of harsh and arid scrublands, where temperatures can exceed 110 degrees Fahrenheit, and the nomadic and pastoralist people & their livestock survive with mere inches of rainfall each year. The line between life and death is thinly veiled in Somalia, with persistent threats from drought, infectious disease, and a long-standing civil war that has perpetuated a volatile and unstable government and economy. The once fertile and biodiverse landscape of Somalia has descended into a barren swath of deforestation and overgrazed dust. Many indigenous flora and fauna are nonexistent or critically endangered. Because human survival is a reality for nearly half of Somalia’s 14 million people, the harvesting of firewood for charcoal is ubiquitous. An invasive species of mesquite was introduced into the country in an effort to slow the effects of erosion, and the non-native species wiped out endemic fauna across hundreds of thousands of acres of land. Boswellia trees are not immune to the ecological threats of modern times in Somalia.
doTERRA Healing Hands Foundation
Despite the hardships, there is room for hope. doTERRA has responded, working with local partners to provide support amidst the crisis. doTERRA’s Healing Hands Foundation™ donated $117,000 of food to the region, including 50,000 kgs of sugar, 1000 units of cooking oil, 100 units of dates, 50,000 units of flour, and 50,000 kgs of rice. These supplies have now gone to support 4,000 families in 32 of the hardest hit communities in Somalia.
Community leaders in Uurwayne, Somaliland, where doTERRA Frankincense oil is sourced, united with a goal to provide education for their children. The doTERRA Healing Hands Foundation has assisted them in building two schools for boys and girls, providing an educational foundation for over 200 children in the communities where frankincense is harvested.
These schools also served as temporary relief centers during the drought crisis. Such immediate relief was possible through doTERRA’s strong relationship with its frankincense community members. The Healing Hands Foundation schools provide education for more than 400 children, including girls, who are often excluded from formal education opportunities. doTERRA built a clinic in Timirshe, Puntland, in 2016, and is additionally building a hospital in Somaliland.
Choose to empower your health, transform your life, and through conscious consumerism, empower and transform the lives of communities living at the interface with Mother Nature. In turn, they will be empowered to better protect the ecosystems in which they live, and we will be one step closer to creating a world where humans co-exist with their environment, rather than destroy it.
Want to know more about Frankincense, or ready to add it to your arsenal for living your best life? Contact me and let’s chat!
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
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