If you’re at all familiar with the Nativity story, then you’ve undoubtedly heard of the three wise men bringing gifts of frankincense and myrrh to the Christ child’s manger. But chances are, you’re not entirely sure what frankincense and myrrh even are. And you probably didn’t know that both are still around today, celebrated not only for their magnificent fragrances but also for their medicinal properties. In fact, the therapeutic benefits of frankincense, recognized in homeopathic practices for centuries, are now coming to the attention of modern physicians and scientific researchers. Read on to learn more about how this ancient herb is taking center stage in 21st-century medicine.
Botanical Name: boswellia sacra
Other Common Names: arbre a encens, bible frankincense, ru xiang
Habitat: Abundant in Oman in arid woodlands and in Somalia.
Turning Down the Heat
One of the most promising uses of frankincense is in the treatment of myriad inflammatory diseases, from rheumatoid arthritis to Crohn’s Disease. While the exact mechanisms aren’t yet known, researchers suspect that the herb reduces the cells’ production of various types of inflammation-producing enzymes called cytokines. The result is less swelling, tissue damage, and pain across several types of bodily systems. Frankincense has also had an anti-inflammatory effect on arthritis and Crohn’s disease.
Like New Again
Whether in the wrist, elbow, knee, shoulder, or some other exotic location, if you’ve ever experienced tendonitis, you know the pain can be spectacular. Worse, this pain most often comes from overuse of joints, muscles, and tendons. That means tendonitis most often strikes busy, active people—precisely the people who don’t want to be sidelined by injury or pain. Enter frankincense; it is strongly associated with the treatment of tendonitis, not only helping to relieve the pain but also to support the healing of inflamed, overworked tissues.
Pain Relief Without the Risk
The fact that frankincense is a go-to herb used to treat the pain and inflammation not only of tendonitis but of significant, chronic auto-immune disorders, such as RA and Crohn’s speaks to its powerful benefits. And when it comes to controlling pain, that means a lot, particularly in the wake of the opioid epidemic, which claimed more than 130 lives in the United States each day in both 2016 and 2017.