Frankincense or boswellia comes from a flowering and fruit bearing tree. Frankincense can be taken in liquid, essential oil or pill form 1. This herb may be beneficial when used internally and can help with the treatment of stomach and intestinal ailments as well as help treat the symptoms of colds. However, frankincense should only be used under the supervision of a physician because it can cause side effects such as gastric pain, nausea and abdominal fullness.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
According to Organic Facts, frankincense helps to promote your digestion instead of suppressing your symptoms like antacids do 1. Organic Facts reports that frankincense oil helps to speed up the secretion of gastric juices that helps you to digest food and move it through the digestive tract 1. This can help to relieve heartburn and stomach upset from overeating or food that is taking too long to digest. In addition, the University of Michigan Health System reports that boswellia does not cause stomach irritation or ulcers to develop when used. Only a few drops of frankincense essential oil mixed with water is needed to treat digestive ailments 1. However, more research needs to be done to prove the particular benefits of frankincense for digestion.
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According to a study done by I. Gupta, A. Parihar and P. Malhotra, frankincense is helpful for those who suffer from ulcerative colitis. According to the "Physician Drug Reference for Herbal Medicines," frankincense helped to improve abdominal pain and loose stools in patients 2. Taking an internal dose of frankincense also helped reduce the appearance of mucus and blood in the stool. The "Physicians Drug Reference for Herbal Medicines" recommends taking a gum resin preparation of 350mg of frankincense three times a day for 6 weeks 2.
Frankincense can also be taken to help reduce chest congestion caused by a cold or flu. According to Organic Facts, taking frankincense internally can help to reduce mucus and even improve coughing caused by a cold or bronchitis 1. This reduction of mucus helps relieve discomfort in the chest. In addition, Organic Facts reports that frankincense can also help to reduce nasal congestion 1. Yale University also notes the benefits of using frankincense internally stating that it helps to clear sinus and chest congestion 4.
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- Organic Facts: Health Benefits of Frankincense Essential Oil:
- The Physicians Drug Reference for Herbal Medicines: Thompson Health Care: 2007
- Effects of Boswellia Serrata Gum Resin in Patints with Ulcerative Colitis: European Journal of Medical Research: Gupta I., Parihar A., Malhotra, P.: 1997
- Yale University: Plant of the Week - Frankincense: January 31, 2008
- Al-yasiry AR, Kiczorowska B. Frankincense--therapeutic properties. Postepy Hig Med Dosw (Online). 2016;70:380-91.
- Ren P, Ren X, Cheng L, Xu L. Frankincense, pine needle and geranium essential oils suppress tumor progression through the regulation of the AMPK/mTOR pathway in breast cancer. Oncol Rep. 2018;39(1):129-137. doi:10.3892/or.2017.6067
- Ni X, Suhail MM, Yang Q, et al. Frankincense essential oil prepared from hydrodistillation of Boswellia sacra gum resins induces human pancreatic cancer cell death in cultures and in a xenograft murine model. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2012;12:253. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-12-253
- Dyer J, Cleary L, Mcneill S, Ragsdale-lowe M, Osland C. The use of aromasticks to help with sleep problems: A patient experience survey. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2016;22:51-8. doi:10.1016/j.ctcp.2015.12.006
- Liu X, Machado GC, Eyles JP, Ravi V, Hunter DJ. Dietary supplements for treating osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Br J Sports Med. 2018;52(3):167-175. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2016-097333
- Ammon HP. Boswellic Acids and Their Role in Chronic Inflammatory Diseases. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2016;928:291-327. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-41334-1_13
- U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Aromatherapy. Updated December 5, 2017.
- Mehrzadi S, Tavakolifar B, Huseini HF, Mosavat SH, Heydari M. The Effects of Boswellia serrata Gum Resin on the Blood Glucose and Lipid Profile of Diabetic Patients: A Double-Blind Randomized Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial. J Evid Based Integr Med. 2018;23:2515690X18772728. doi:10.1177/2515690X18772728
- Dyer J, Cleary L, McNeill S, Ragsdale-Lowe M, Osland C. The use of aromasticks to help with sleep problems: A patient experience survey. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2016;22:51-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2015.12.006
- Dyer J, Cleary L, Ragsdale-Lowe M, McNeill S, Osland C. The use of aromasticks at a cancer centre: a retrospective audit. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2014;20(4):203-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2013.11.006.
- Liu X, Machado GC, Eyles JP, et al. Dietary supplements for treating osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Br J Sports Med. 2018;52(3):167-175. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2016-097333.
- Mehrzadi S, Tavakolifar B, Huseini HF, et al. The Effects of Boswellia serrata Gum Resin on the Blood Glucose and Lipid Profile of Diabetic Patients: A Double-Blind Randomized Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial. J Evid Based Integr Med. 2018;23:2515690X18772728. doi: 10.1177/2515690X18772728.
- Suhail MM, Wu W, Cao A, et al. Boswellia sacra essential oil induces tumor cell-specific apoptosis and suppresses tumor aggressiveness in cultured human breast cancer cells. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011;11:129. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-11-129.
Kristie Jernigan is a health writer with over 17 years of experience as a medical social worker. She has worked mainly with the elderly population and with children. She holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology and early childhood from East Tennessee State University and a Master of Science in health care administration and gerontology from the University of Phoenix.