Absolutely the oldest kind of incense and in exactly the same form as used by the three wise men two thousand years ago. In fact the use of tree resin as an aromatic substance can be traced back much further – over six thousand years. The smoky fragrance produced by burning resin on charcoal disks is quite unique and amazingly evocative.
Frankincense, also called olibanum, is an aromatic resin used in incense and perfumes, obtained from trees of the genus Boswellia in the family Burseraceae. The English word is derived from Old French “franc encens” (i.e., high quality incense).
Frankincense is used in perfumery and aromatherapy. It is also an ingredient that is sometimes used in skincare. The essential oil is obtained by steam distillation of the dry resin. Some of the smells of the frankincense smoke are products of pyrolysis. Frankincense resin is edible and is used in traditional medicines in Africa and Asia for digestion and healthy skin. For internal consumption, it is recommended that frankincense be translucent, with no black or brown impurities. It is often light yellow with a (very) slight greenish tint. It is often chewed like gum, but it is stickier.
In Ayurvedic medicine frankincense (Boswellia serrata), commonly referred to in India as “dhoop,” has been used for hundreds of years for treating
- healing wounds
- strengthening the female hormone system
- and purifying the air.
The use of frankincense in Ayurveda is called “dhoopan”. In Somali, Ethiopian, Arabian, and Indian cultures, it is suggested that burning frankincense daily in the house brings good health.
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