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Frankincense

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  • Botanical: Boswellia Serrata
  • Family: Burseraceae
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Frankincense

Botanical

Boswellia Serrata

Family

Burseraceae

Known as

Olibanum, Weihrauch, Salai, Boswellia carteri, frankincense

Old Use

medicinal; culinary

Parts Used

resin

Aroma

earthy, smoky, woody

Medicinal

asthma, bronchitis, bronchitis, digestion, gastrointestinal, infections, osteoarthritis

Muscle & Joints

arthritis, back pain, bone weakness, joint inflammation, joint pain, knee pain, rheumatism, osteoarthritis

Respiratory System

asthma, bronchitis

Stomach & Intestinal

abdominal pain, cancer, cancer prevention, digestion, gastrointestinal, gastric inflammation, intestinal inflammation

Properties

antibacterial, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antirheumatic, anti inflammatory, digestive, expectorant

Note

base

Extraction

steam distillation

Description

Obtained from the leafy forest tree Boswellia Thurifera, with leaves deciduous, alternate towards the tops of branches, unequally pinnated; leaflets in about ten pairs with an odd one opposite, oblong, obtuse, serrated, pubescent, sometimes alternate; petioles short.

Flowers, white or pale rose on short pedicels in single axillary racemes shorter than the leaves. Calyx, small five-toothed, persistent; corolla with five obovate-oblong, very patent petals, acute at the base, inserted under the margin of the disk, acstivation slightly imbricative. Stamens, ten, inserted under the disk, alternately shorter; filaments subulate, persistent.

Anthers, caducous, oblong. Torus a cupshaped disk, fleshy, larger than calyx, crenulated margin. Ovary, oblong, sessile. Style, one caducous, the length of the stamens; stigma capitate, three-lobed. Fruit capsular, three-angled three-celled, three-valved, septicidal, valves hard. Seeds, solitary in each cell surrounded by a broad membranaceous wing. Cotyledons intricately folded multifid.

The trees on the Somali coast grow, without soil, out of polished marble rocks, to which they are attached by a thick oval mass of substances resembling a mixture of lime and mortar. The young trees furnish the most valuable gum, the older yielding merely a clear, glutinous fluid, resembling coral varnish.

Properties & Uses

Studies show that boswellia may reduce inflammation and may be useful in treating:
osteoarthritis
rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
asthma
inflammatory bowel disease

Besides being an effective anti-inflammatory, boswellia can be an effective painkiller and may prevent the loss of cartilage. Some studies have found that it may even be useful in treating certain cancers, such as leukemia and breast cancer.

Cautions

Avoid use during pregnancy.

Distribution

Arabia, Somaliland.

Constituents

Resins 65 per cent, volatile oil 6 per cent, water-soluble gum 20 per cent, bassorin 6 to 8 per cent, plant residue 2 to 4 per cent; the resins are composed of boswellic acid and alibanoresin.