Dalzielii gum-resin burning on hot coal close up

Frankincense Types: Medicinal, Psychoactive, Cognitive, Scent Properties & More

Frankincense is ancient aromatic resin that is prized for it’s scent when burned, it’s medicinal properties, and it’s psychoactive effects. In this article, I discuss the various different types of frankincense species that exist. After reading this, you should be able to tell apart the different types of frankincense resins & their respective properties- like scent, taste, texture, color, medicinal effects, and psychoactive effects.

Frankincense comes from a family of trees known as the “Burseraceae”. Within the Burseraceae family, Boswellia is the group of trees that people actually call “frankincense” and use to burn as incense. Within the Boswellia genus, there are many species of frankincense including carterii, dalzielii, frereana, papyrifera, sacra, and serrata.

I am writing this article in the first place because I spend a lot of my time looking for cognitive enhancers. I’ve experimented with the obvious, such as coffee, cocoa, sleep, exercise, and diet. I’ve also experimented with the unobvious, like essential oils, listening to music, nicotine gum, and various herbs like tulsi, turmeric, ginger, sage, and wormwood.

So far, I must say that I personally favor Maydi (Boswellia frereana), and then Royal Hojari Green (Boswellia sacra) frankincense for chewing specifically because it hits all of my criteria for a good nootropic chewing gum. They both have a good taste, and cognitive enhancing effects.

Both have anti-inflammatory properties that lower neural inflammation and thereby improve the function of the brain. Although my teacher personally specified Maydi to be chewed to improve one’s memory.

Now in terms of mastication, Royal Hojari Green tends to a bit too much on the soft-side and generate a bit of soluble gum that bubbles in the mouth as you chew.Whereas Maydi ends up either being a bit too hard or a bit too sticky; I end up feeling like I made my jaw muscles go through a exercise-routine after chewing frereana resin. Otherwise, Boswellia frereana resin is the longest lasting chewing gum when compared to other gum-resins (4+ hours).

Actually, whether a gum is hard or soft & sticky may depend on the freshness of the gum-resin and size of the piece of gum. You see, a extremely fresh resin that just oozed out of a tree’s wound is very liquidy & sticky. But as it dries out overtime, it become harder until it is a solid piece of resin. If the size of the solid resin-tear is big, then as the outside portion dries, the moisture and volatile essential oils inside it are encapsulated and not allowed to evaporate off. So a big piece of tree gum is more likely to stay softer & sticker than a smaller piece.

And in general, all species of frankincense have medicinal value. They usually have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, analgesic (pain killing), tranquilizing, anti-bacterial, expectorant (a drug that aids in the clearance of mucus from the airways, lungs, bronchi, and trachea), antiseptic, anxiolytic (anxiety lowering), and antineurotic (helps mental illness involving chronic distress) properties[16].

The Boswellia carterii[16], sacra, serrata[16], dalzielii[2], and papyrifera[17] species of frankincense have something called “boswellic acid”. In addition to being an anti-inflammatory, boswellic acid also has an antiproliferative effect on tumors, meaning that boswellic acid stops the tumor from spreading. Boswellic acid also kills tumors by inhibiting topoisomerase I and II-alpha and stimulate programmed cell death (apoptosis)[16].

Boswellia Carterii

Drawing diagram of Boswellia Carterii Branch anatomySo what is Boswellia carterii? Well, it is one species of frankincense found in Eastern Africa (such as in Somalia) and China that is commonly used for its scent as incense and in perfumery. Boswellia carterii resin is also burned as a fumigant to get rid of pests, and is used medically to treat inflammatory diseases. Boswellia carterii is effective for the treatment of inflammation due to its boswellic acid content, which is a potent anti-inflammatory. Additionally, Boswellia carteri (and other frankincense species) exhibits anti-cancer properties[18].

Composition of Boswellia Carterii

The Essential Oil

Analyzing the essential oil composition of Boswellia carterii may allow us to interpret more properties that it has by investigating the properties of the essential oil fractions. So the essential oil of Boswellia carterii is specifically composed of[1]:

  • α-thujene (7.9%)
  • α-pinene (37.3%)
  • camphene (0.8%)
  • sabinene (4.9%)
  • β-pinene (1.8%)
  • myrcene (7.3%)
  • limonene+β-phellandrene (14.4%).

Note that these values may differ depending on how and where the tree is grown.

Resin Composition

The resin component of Boswellia carterii is quite similar to the sacra species of frankincense:

In a chemical point of view, Boswellia carteri and B. sacra were more especially characterized by the presence of lupeolic acid, boswellic acids and their respective O-acetyl derivatives…[6]

Scent & Taste Profile of Boswellia Carterii


Boswellia Carterii Resin on a Dish
Boswellia Carterii Resin on a Dish

Boswellia carterii is definitely better for chewing than Boswellia papyrifera. Boswellia carterii gum is a lot more palatable with a nice, slightly sweet, lemon-pine taste that leaves your mouth feeling refreshed.

But there are a few problems when it comes to chewing the oleo-gum resin of Boswellia carterii. For instance, the gum content of carterii frankincense makes it so that sometimes when you try to chew it, it sometimes dissolves into a wet-gummy powder. But most of the time, the Boswellia carterii can be chewed like a regular piece of chewing gum.

Another problem is that I observe stomach problems when chewing Boswellia carterii tree gum. Specifically, carterii tears can act as a laxative. And sometimes there is minute amounts of stomach pain, which is a lot better compared to chewing papyrifera gum.


The scent of Boswellia carterii when you burn the gum on a hot coal is initially quite nice. I would describe it as having a scent that is reminiscent a lemons, pine trees, turpentine, and very fresh. But if you burn the gum-resin for too long, and at too high of a temperature, you will start to notice a burnt wood smell after most of the essential oil has evaporated from the gum. Which is usually caused by the gum burning at too high of a temperature.

Medical Properties & Uses

Not all plants are good for the human being, but Boswellia carterii (and many other types of frankincense) may be a tree that scientist can look into for its medicinal properties. So far, scientists have discovered that the frankincense oil derived from the Boswellia carteri tree has an anti-cancerous effect, killing cancerous cells while leaving the healthy ones intact[18]. They attribute the anti-tumor property to Boswellia carterii’s boswellic acid content.

But doesn’t make much sense. Although boswellic acid possesses anti-cancer properties, it is not found in the essential oil. Boswellic acid is left behind during the hydrodistillation process used to extract an essential oil from the frankincense resin. So an essential oil will not have the full spectrum of therapeutic benefits as the whole oleo-gum resin would.

But considering these facts, the study then indicates that the anti-cancer property comes from a chemical component of the essential oil.

Anyways, the resin of Boswellia Carterii, like Boswellia serrata, is used to treat inflammatory diseases such as Crohn’s disease due to its boswellic acid content. Boswellic acid may also be quite effective against cancer, as I’ve discussed in the medicinal section under Boswellia serrata.

By the way, the essential oil of Boswellia carterii seems to have an immunostimulatory property[20], meaning that it stimulates the production of lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell).

Customer/User Anecdotes

There is limited information on the properties, uses, and effects that Boswellia carterii may posses. And much of the information you can find online on carterii frankincense are user anecdotes. A single anecdote doesn’t warrant much attention. However, multiple user anecdotes that convey the same information start to show that piece of information as possibly true. With that in mind, I went ahead and gathered the information that was held in common between multiple users:

Many people have used Boswellia carterii essential oil as a topical pain reliever. It seems people have experienced quite a bit of back pain relief when applying the Boswellia carterii frankincense essential oil to the painful spot. Other users have found that carterii essential oil also stops arthritis pain & swelling with topical application for hours.

One person has also observed that the essential oil of Boswellia carterii stops migraines with sublingual application- specifically by placing a drop of the essential oil on the thumb and holding it against the roof of the mouth for a few seconds. The user reported that after 5 minutes, their nausea and migraine dissipated and was no longer observable.

Another user reports that the essential oil of Boswellia caterii greatly reduced the pain of Multiple Sclerosis and improved the duration of their sleep. I can definitely agree with this user that Boswellia caterii helps you fall asleep by making you feel really relaxed. I also find that the relaxing property of Boswellia caterii essential oil helps somewhat with anxiety, and I imagine it would also help if you have anger problems, and you want to calm down from your anger.

Of course, be forewarned that you should test whether you are sensitive to skin applications of essential oils by placing a single drop on your skin first to see if any redness develops. Of course, you should use essential topically with dilution.

Boswellia Dalzielii

Boswellia dalzielii Hutch, or Boswellia dalzielii for short, is a less well known species of frankincense found mostly in Western Africa, like in locations such as Nigeria. The bark of Boswellia dalzielii is used by natives mostly as a medicine, being used to improve the function of the liver, treat tuberculosis & gingivitis, treat skin disorders, digestive disorders, musculoskeletal system disorders, and nervous system disorders. Boswellia dalzielii is also used for breathing problems & infections.

Boswellia dalzielii Tree
Courtesy of African plants – A Photo Guide. www.africanplants.senckenberg.de A Boswellia dalzielii tree growing out of rocky terrain in Western Africa

Another use for Boswellia dalzielii is as a fumigant, the wood and/or gum-resin is burned to drive out insects, flies, mosquitoes, and other pests from an area. Boswellia dalzielii is found to be quite toxic to mosquitoes as well.

The natives may also use the Boswellia dalzielii tree are an ornamental tree, or to act as a part of a village’s stockade/wall. Much like in Bengladesh, the natives use the tree as a part of a “living” fence- which is basically trees planted in a row to form a fence on a person’s property.

Scent & Taste Profile of Boswellia Dalzielii

Boswellia dalzielii is used as a replacement incense to regular frankincense like Boswellia carterii. I found that when the dalzielii gum is burned on a hot coal, it produces a nice fragrant sweet-lemon peppermint scented smoke.

I’ve tried chewing Boswellia dalzielii, and it was an interesting experience. It was too soft, and easily melting in my mouth like butter. There wasn’t much chewing, in other words. But the taste is quite something else. Boswellia Dalzielli tastes like sweet lemons without the sharpness of citrus. The gum felt cool in my mouth, almost like peppermint. In fact, I would describe the taste to be reminiscence of peppermint.

Plant Description

The Yellow green-tinted resin tears of Boswellia Dalzielii.
The Yellow green-tinted resin tears of Boswellia Dalzielii.

The Boswellia dalzielii tree is usually found in the savannas of Western Africa, growing up to about 13 meters in height. It has small white fragrant flowers which bloom when the tree becomes leafless.

Description of the Bark: The tree is covered with pale papery-thin beige-colored bark that is naturally peeling and cracking off from the tree.

Description of the Leaves: The leaves of the tree sprout out in clumps from specific parts of the tree, not even distributed. The leaves are pale yellow to light green in color. The leaves are very thin, narrow, long blades are are lined on the outer perimeter in a saw-tooth like fashion.

Description of the Gum-resin: The gum resin tears that exude from the Boswellia dalzielii tree are whitish-yellow, sometimes with a greenish tint. The gum is very soft and not as sticky compared to other frankincense resins.

Medical Properties & Uses

There are many medicinal properties[2] of the Boswellia dalzielii tree that the natives of Western Africa take advantage of. I’ve already listed a few in the above paragraphs, but I will try to go in-depth about it here.

The Bark

The bark of Boswellia Dalzielii is used to treat arthritis, rheumatism, leprosy, heart problems, and as an antidote to venomous stings, bites, etc. The bark is also used as an emetic, which is a substances consumed to induce vomiting. Which isn’t weird, stuff like ayahuasca is also an emetic. Emetics are usually used in ancient traditional medicine to expel worms and other tropical parasites. The Boswellia dalzielii bark is also used as a fabrifuge or febrifuge. A febrifuge is another word for a antipyretic, which is a substance used to reduced fever, like aspirin. One way that a antipyretic may reduce fever is by acting on the hypothalamus to override a prostaglandin-induced increase in body temperature.

Boswellia Dalzielii bark, exposed trunk, and man chewing bark
Courtesy of African plants – A Photo Guide. www.africanplants.senckenberg.de Bark of Boswellia Dalzielii is often used by the natives in their traditional medicine.

The Root

The root of Boswellia Dalzielii is used to treat venereal diseases. Venereal diseases refers to Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) like Gonorrhea, HIV/AIDS, Syphilis, Chlamydia, Genital herpes, Human papillomavirus infections, etc.

The oleo-gum-resin

The yellow resin of Boswellia Dalzielli is used to treat the kidneys and to act as a diuretic. A diuretic is a substance that increases the amount of urine produced. The caffeine in green tea and coffee is also a diuretic.

Finally, the gum-resin of Boswellia dalzielii is found to have anti-inflammatory properties. Which makes sense, because the gum contains the anti-inflammatory boswellinic or boswellic acid.

Boswellia Frereana Maydi

Boswellia frereana, also known as Maydi and Yagcar, is a type of frankincense tree that produces ones of the highest quality resins for burning. Some people even call it the “King of Frankincense”, due to its high quality. When the resin of Boswellia frereana is burned on a hot coal, you will notice that the resin literally melts into the coal, leaving behind little-to-no gum residue. This is good because other types of frankincense leave behind a gum on the coal to burn, producing burnt off-scents that detract from the beautiful aroma of frankincense.

Boswellia frereana is also one of my favorite resins for mastication (chewing gum). The Boswellia frereana tree is native to Northern Somalia & Kenya, and has been introduced into the ecosystem of Southern Yemen.

Scent & Taste Profile of Boswellia Frereana


The scent of Boswellia frereana is quite interesting. Initially, you will strongly smell a spicy scent that is reminiscent of bold citrus orange. In that way, Boswellia frereana smells like Boswellia papyrifera. Although I think the scent of oranges is cleaner for the Boswellia frereana resin. Other sources indicate that burning Boswellia frereana resin smells like sweet resinous wood.


Yellow-Orange frereana Yagcar Maydi
Boswellia frereana Gum-Resin used for Mastication & Incense

Chewing on the Boswellia frereana gum-resin actually reveals more nuanced notes in the taste. When I chew, I observe a cool, clean taste in my mouth that is exceedingly fresh, with a hit of spice. It reminds me of freshly washed laundry, but it’s not a bad taste. Why laundry? Well, after further chewing, the the taste reminded me of laundry because it has notes of lavender and elemi. Chewing also reveals a light-fruity orange-like taste that also reminds me of candy. Otherwise, I find that the gum-resin has little to no bitterness.

Boswellia frereana is by far the best frankincense gum for chewing. There is little to no gum content in this gum. Then I suppose I shouldn’t call it a gum? Regardless, when this maydi is chewed, there is no awful gummy powder produced in the mouth. You may experience the resin to crush or explode into a powder, to then be fused together into a hard-wad like chewing gum. But then I observe that frereana maydi may require more jaw-muscle action for chewing depending on how dry it is.

The flip-side of the experience is getting a sticky mess that melts into your teeth and is hard to remove. When this happens to me, I either eat some food to remove the sticky residue, or add some less-sticky more-brittle gum resin to chew. I suppose this is why it is imperative to choose the right type of maydi gum-resin to chew. For chewing, I would suggest the small to medium sized hard-brittle pieces. The bigger and softer maydi pieces are too sticky for chewing, but are better for burning.


The Burseraceae family of trees exude gum resin with similar compositions, thereby sharing many similar medicinal properties. Although they can be quite different as well.

With that in mind, I investigate the composition of the Boswellia frereana. It seems that some of the main constituents of the resin are triterpenes called epi-lupeol[5][6] and lupeol[5]. On the other hand, the essential oil of Boswellia frereana is composed of terpenes, with p-cymene being one of the most abundant constituents of the essential oil[7].

Medical Properties & Uses

Like other varieties of frankincense, Boswellia frereana also has medicinal properties, along with some cognitive ones too. First I will say that I am highly interested in the gum-resin of Boswellia frereana because I have heard from my middle-eastern teacher that the Muslim scholars chewed on Frankincense to improve their memory. Although it is unclear which exact frankincense species was used, my teacher indicates that the clear ones like this maydi, Boswellia frereana, is the one that worked for him in improving memory.

I personally have chewed Boswellia frereana gum resin for a couple of weeks now, but I can’t tell if it has indeed improved my memory. I don’t know how I should test for memory enhancement. But I must say that my concentration is improved when I chew this gum while I work.

I have also observed that it is really good for my digestive system. I normally have a sensitive stomach that is runs more towards the laxative side of things. But taking this gum made me more regular, and reduced my sensitivity to certain foods- I can drink coffee normally now without having to run to the bathroom. Of course, drinking bad-stale coffee is still asking for trouble.

Boswellia Frereana may be Useful Against the Breakdown of Bone Cartilage

And according to a scientific study[21], this Maydi frankincense has a significant anti-inflammatory effect. The study specifically showed the anti-inflammatory effect of Boswellia frereana was effective against cartilage degradation:

…B. frereana inhibited the breakdown of the collagenous matrix. B. frereana reduced MMP9 and MMP13 mRNA levels, inhibited MMP9 expression and activation, and significantly reduced the production of nitrite (stable end product of nitric oxide), prostaglandin E2 and cycloxygenase-2.

The gist of the study is that Boswellia frereana has the effect of stopping cartilage degradation; in other words, Boswellia frereana helps with preventing the cartilage from being broken down. This is an extremely useful effect for those who have osteoarthritis and those who perform exercises that involve a lot of repetitive motion, like runners. People who run a lot may run into problems later in life with the cartilage in their knee prematurely breaking down. This problem is also known as “runner’s knee”.

To further analyze the medicinal properties of Boswellia frereana, one approach is to analyze the therapeutic effects of its constituents, such as lupeol.

Properties of Lupeol

Diagram showing Chemical Structure of Lupeol
The Chemical Structure of Lupeol

The resin of Boswellia frereana is composed of lupeol. And lupeol is a chemical with therapeutic properties. Scientists have specifically found that lupeol to specifically stop the spread and growth of cancer cells, using the bladder as the testing grounds[8][9]. I don’t want to say that lupeol’s anticancer property is only limited to the bladder; usually in studies researchers target their focus onto one organ in order to make the study more accurate.

Lupeol is also a antimutagenic, meaning that lupeol protects DNA from being damage. Specifically, scientists used a strong tumor-promoting substance called 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene on the skin of rats, which caused the formation of skin cancer cells by causing the strands of cell DNA to break apart. But the topical administration of lupeol roughly reduced in half the number of DNA strands broken apart by the cancer promoting substance. This property of lupeol further indicates lupeol as an effective cancer fighting substance that medical scientists should look into[10].

Lupeol also has antioxidant,  antiarthritic, anti-inflammatory[11], and antiproliferative properties which all contributes to lupeol’s anticancer[8][9][10][12][13][14] property.

Another source lists:

Many researches indicated that lupeol possesses many beneficial pharmacological activities including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-hyperglycemic, anti-dyslipidemic and anti-mutagenic effects. From various disease-targeted animal models, these reports indicated that lupeol has anti-diabetic, anti-asthma, anti-arthritic, cardioprotective, hepatoprotective, nephroprotective, neuroprotective and anticancer efficiency…[15]

To summarize, because Boswellia frereana resin contains lupeol, it also carries over all the medicinal and therapeutic properties of lupeol, which I have mentioned above.

Interestingly, many natural food also contain lupeol, including white cabbage, green pepper, strawberries, olives, figs, mangoes, blueberries and grapes. It is no wonder that people quote Hippocrates to say, “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food”. Natural foods have a therapeutic health value which may be lost to processing (although I personally think that cooking actually improves a foods nutrient profile), so it is imperative to eat foods as wholesomely as possible in order to also obtain it’s therapeutic value. That’s why it is possible to see improvements in health just by fixing your diet.

Boswellia Papyrifera

Boswellia papyrifera, also known as itan zaf, is a very common frankincense used for incense burning both locally and abroad. Boswellia papyrifera is native to Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Sudan. Locally, Boswellia papyrifera is burned during coffee ceremonies to enhance the coffee drinking experience; I imagine that coffee ceremonies in Ethiopia is the equivalent to British tea time. Boswellia papyrifera is also burnt as an insect repellent and used as a medicine. This species of frankincense is also used as a base for perfumes, and as a medicine.

You can find the Boswellia papyrifera tree growing from dry & rocky terrains where often less hardier trees fail to thrive and survive.

Scent Profile & Taste profile

Boswellia Papyrifera Frankincense gum-resin
The Gum-resin of the Boswellia Papyrifera Frankincense tree.

I remember that when burning the Boswellia papyrifera gum-resin, it produces a wonderful aroma that smells a bit like lemons, strongly of oranges, and a bit like parchment or aged paper.


I definitely don’t recommend chewing on this frankincense gum, at least by my experience. Maybe I got a bad batch for chewing? I don’t know if the farmers/harvesters, who grow Boswellia papyrifera, take this resin internally. And mastication or chewing counts under internal usage, given that I consume the saliva that mixes with the tree resin as I chew. Anyways, Boswellia papyrifera tastes bitter and I imagine that it’s like biting into an orange peel without the “orange” taste to it. It disturbed my stomach, and sometimes I get acid reflex because of it.

I don’t believe there is much benefit to taking Boswellia papyrifera internally. And even if a substance has a benefit, you have to consider the pros and the cons. For taking Boswellia papyrifera internally, the main con for me is that it disturbs my stomach. And I find that anything that disturbs my stomach ends up disturbing my cognition.

To put this into perspective, consider what happens to your mood, focus, attention, memory, and learning ability when you have a stomach ache or diarrhea. Of course, you will be in a bad mood, depressed, and thereby have trouble focusing, maintaining attention, have poorer memory, and you will not be able to learn information as easily. So for me, the cons outweighs for the pros, at least for consuming Boswellia papyrifera internally. I find that because of it’s GI tract disturbing effect, Boswellia papyrifera harms my cognition when taken internally. But of course, I should mention that I have a sensitive stomach.

Composition & Medical Properties

Boswellia Papyrifera contains Boswellic acid

The composition of Boswellia papyrifera, specifically the extract of the tree’s stem bark[17], is reported by the Journal of Natural Products to be:

…two new stilbene glycosides, trans-4′,5-dihydroxy-3-methoxystilbene-5-O-{alpha-L-rhamnopyranosyl-(1–>2)-[alpha-L-rhamnopyranosyl-(1–>6)]-beta-D-glucopyranoside (1), trans-4′,5-dihydroxy-3-methoxystilbene-5-O-[alpha-L-rhamnopyranosyl-(1–>6)]-beta-D-glucopyranoside (2), and a new triterpene, 3alpha-acetoxy-27-hydroxylup-20(29)-en-24-oic acid (3), along with five known compounds, 11-keto-beta-boswellic acid (4), beta-elemonic acid (7), 3alpha-acetoxy-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid (8), beta-boswellic acid (9), and beta-sitosterol (10). The stilbene glycosides exhibited significant inhibition of phosphodiesterase I and xanthine oxidase. The triterpenes (3-9) exhibited prolyl endopeptidase inhibitory activities.

Like the other species of frankincense, Boswellia papyrifera has a the potent anti-inflammatory substance called “boswellic acid”. To summarize, boswellic acid is effective at treating inflammatory conditions & diseases, as well as stopping & even reversing the metastases of cancer cells[19].

Essential Oil Composition

The essential oil fraction of Boswellia papyrifera is mostly composed of octyl acetate (57.1–65.7%) and n-octanol (3.4–8.8%) with a small amount of linalool (1.0–2.1%)[22].

The octyl acetate is responsible for imparting the fruity-orange aroma that is smelt when the gum-resin of Boswellia papyrifera is burned on a hot coal. In fact, octyl acetate is found in oranges, grapefruits, and other citrus fruits.

Boswellia Papyrifera contains Incensole & Incensole acetate

Diagram chemical structure model of Incensole
The chemical structure of Incensole, the psychoactive constituent of Boswellia papyrifera frankincense.

Another 2 substances that can be found in the resin of Boswellia papyrifera are diterpenic cembrenoids called “incensole” and “incensole acetate”. These two substances are usually unique to Boswellia papyrifera, such that they can be used biomarkers that tell scientists what kind of frankincense resin they are working with.

Incensole and incensole acetate have a couple of interesting properties. They inhibit Nuclear Factor-kappa B (NF-κB) activation, and they show signs of psychoactivity in mice by activating the TRPV3 channels in the brain[25]. So what does that mean?

Incensole & Incensole Acetate Inhibit NF-κB

Well, NF-κB is a protein complex that controls the transcription of DNA, cytokine production and cell survival. When is NF-κB is involved in both pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory roles[26].

In tumors, the NF-κB is constantly being activated. NF-κB for turns on the expression of genes that stimulate cell proliferation and protects the cell from conditions that cause them to die from cell apoptosis. So that blocking NF-κB can cause tumor cells to stop proliferating, to die, or to become more sensitive to the action of anti-tumor agents. But caution should also be taken when considering NF-κB inhibition as a broad therapeutic strategy in cancer therapy, because NF-κB activity also enhances tumor cell sensitivity to apoptosis and senescence[27][28].

So I can’t say what it exactly means if incensole and incensole acetate inhibits the activation of NF-κB, except that NF-κB is involved with our body’s inflammatory response, and that it is involved in the cancer pathology.

Incensole & Incensole Acetate Activates the TRPV3 Channels

Ion channel membrane protein diagram
This is the Schematic diagram of an ion channel. 1 – channel domains (typically four per channel), 2 – outer vestibule, 3 – selectivity filter, 4 – diameter of selectivity filter, 5 – phosphorylation site, 6 – cell membrane. Note that ion channels are membrane proteins that allow ions to pass through channel pores. TRPV3 is one type.

So another property of Incensole and Incensole Acetate is that it activates the TRPV3 channel in the body. Well, what does that mean?

In other to understand, we need to know what TRPV3 is. TRPV3 stands for “Transient Receptor Potential cation channel, subfamily V, member 3”. TRPV3 is a human gene that encodes a protein with the same name.

The TRPV3 protein is is a part of a family of ion channels (ion channels are membrane proteins, and are like tunnels that allow ions to pass into the cell from outside the cell membrane) that control temperature sensation, and the dilation & constriction of blood vessels.

TRPV3 Channel Activation Causes Feelings of Warmth, Anxiolytic, and Anti-depressive Effects

The TRPV3 channel are expressed widely in the human body, such as in the skin and in the brain. TRPV3 functions as a molecular sensor that detects a range of warm temperatures. In fact, mice that lack the TRPV3 protein cannot sense warm temperatures, but they are still able to sense cold temperatures and harmfully high temperatures[29]. So due to the presence of TRPV3 channels in our skin cells, you will observe a feeling of warmth when chewing or burning Boswellia papyrifera resin due to its TRPV3 activating incensole content.

TRPV3 also plays a role in regulating hair growth[30]. Specifically, it is observed that substituting the TRPV3 gene induced hair loss in mice.

The TRPV3 channels in the brain regulates a person’s mood. When Incensole acetate from Boswellia papyrifera frankincense reaches the brain, it activates the brain’s TRPV3 channels. The result is that the person may experience anxiolytic and anti-depressant effects[31].

Finally, the incensole acetate in the Boswellia papyrifera frankincense resin protects against ischemic (blood flow restriction) cerebral injury[32]. Ischemia, or blood flow restriction, is one of the affects of strokes, and causes cells to die due to a lack of sufficient oxygen & glucose being supplied.

One quick thing I’d like to mention is that carvacrol, thymol and eugenol all also activate the TRPV3 channel[33]. These chemicals are major components of plants like oregano, savory, clove, and thyme. That means these plants may be able to provide you effects similar to incensole and incensole acetate found in the Boswellia papyrifera frankincense.

Boswellia Papyrifera May Help with Multiple Sclerosis

In one study[23], researchers gathers patients who were suffering with multiple sclerosis, and supplemented some of them with Boswellia papyrifera for two months at a dosage of 300 mg capsules per day. After the 2 months, the scientists found that the patient’s visuospatial memory showed significant improvements, but did not show any effect on verbal memory and information processing speed. So what does that mean?

cell body of a neuron, myelin sheath, node of ranvier, axon & dendrite
Myelin is the fatty white substance that surrounds hte axons of nerve cells, forming an electrically insulating layer that accelerates the speed of a nerve signal and helps insure that the nerve signal gets passed on. One substance that may improve neuronal myelination is Lion’s Mane.

Well, first you have to understand what Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is to find out. MS is a disease where the body’s immune system attacks the myelin sheath that surrounds neurons in nerve fibers. This is extremely problematic, because neurons need the myelin sheath in order to pass signals from one neuron to another in order to communicate with each other. With MS, neurons cease to function efficiently, and what is made of neurons cease to function efficiently.

And what do you know, our brain is made up of about 100 billions neurons that communicate with each other so that we can actually “think”. Neurons also run throughout our body- for example, our sense of touch is related to neurons in the skin transmitting a signal to other nearby neurons, all the way to the brain so that we can “feel” the sensation of touch when the brain interprets those nerve signals.

With the fact in mind that our brain and body is composed of neurons, it is no surprise to see that some of the symptoms of MS include vision loss, pain, fatigue, impaired coordination, and memory loss.

So how is Boswellia papyrifera related to MS?

Well according to the study I mentioned before, researchers found limited but significant improvements in the symptoms of MS when the patients were given Boswellia papyrifera. Additionally, the researchers observed that the improvements in MS from frankincense administration were dose dependent.

My interpretation is that the improvements in MS symptoms is due to Boswellia papyrifera containing a substance called boswellic acid, which also is found in many species of frankincense. Boswellic acid is a 5-lipoxygenase inhibitor[24], meaning that is lowers the enzyme required to produce inflammatory leukotrienes (molecules). The end result is that boswellic acid lowers inflammation and turns down the inflammatory immune system response of the body. The lower inflammatory response may also mean that the neuron’s myelin aren’t attacked by the immune system as much.

Boswellia Sacra

Boswellia sacra is another species of frankincense from the Burseraceae family of trees, and its resin is used in perfumes and in incense burning like the other species of Boswellia. Boswellia sacra is native to Oman, Yemen, and Somalia. This tree starts to produce resin that is good for harvesting when it is 8 to 10 years old.

There are several grades of of Boswellia Sacra frankincense gum-resin. From highest to lowest they are Hojari, Najdi, Shazri, and Shabi. Hojari resin is also known as Royal Hojari Green because it has a green tint compared to the other grades of resin.

Scent & Taste Profile of Boswellia Sacra

Scent of Royal Hojari Green

The scent of the Royal Hojari Green grade of Boswellia Sacra gum-resin was quite agreeable. When I placed the frankincense piece on a hot coal, my nostrils were almost immediately hit with wafts of a refreshing green aroma that smelled like pine sap & turpentine, sweet-camphor, and lime. Near the end of the burning period, the Royal Hojari Green had a finishing smell similar to Boswellia Carterii due to the resin’s gum content burning with a burnt wood smell at the end.

Mastication/Chewing/Taste of Royal Hojari Green

I found that chewing on the highest grade of Boswellia sacra frankincense resin, Royal Hojari Green, is an extremely enjoyable experience, at least for me. Although the gum initially gets stuck in hard-to-clean places in your teeth, the gum improves its cohesiveness the longer you chew it. And you can really chew this gum for hours. I mean hours. It really helps that the royal hojari green oleo-resin is very soft & luscious, almost massaging your teeth as you chew the hojari gum.

Royal Hojari Green gum has quite a peculiar taste. When I first took a bite, I experience a burst of green flavors of fresh parsley, cilantro, with a very faint bitter taste, and with a very fresh, clean, cool feeling in the mouth.

Composition of Boswellia Sacra

The composition of Boswellia Sacra is similar to other species of frankincense. Like the many other species of frankincense, Boswellia Sacra contains boswellic acid. And Boswellia Sacra is especially similar to the composition of Boswellia Carterii.

Essential Oil Composition of Boswellia Sacra

The essential oil of Boswellia Sacra is composed of[1]:

  • α-thujene (0.6%)
  • α-pinene (68.2%)
  • camphene (2.1%)
  • sabinene (2.9%)
  • β-pinene (2.0%)
  • myrcene (0.7%)
  • limonene+β-phellandrene (6.2%)

As you can see, Boswellia sacra essential oil has a high percentage makeup of α-pinene (“alpha” pinene), which has the property of inhibiting the action of acetylcholinesterase. Acetylcholinesterase is the enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine in the brain. If you inhibit this enzyme, then you have increased levels of acetylcholine in the brain. Within a safe limit, increasing the level of acetylcholine neurotransmitters improves memory, focus, executive function, and many other functions of the brain. This is why many people in the nootropics community use acetylcholinesterase inhibitors to improve brain function.

Psychoactive Effects from Mastication

From chewing the Royal Hojari Green frankincense, I observed psychoactive effect(s). It is quite relaxing, and it puts your mind at peace. You may work at a slightly slower pace, but that is because you feel more focused & more patient such that you actually take the time to comprehend what it is that you are doing. It’s an awesome relaxant, with not a bit of sedation.

While I was chewing the Hojari frankincense tear, I noticed that it has a vision brightening effect, making colors more vibrant and pop out more. This reminds me of my experience with testing pieces of raw turmeric root as a nootropic. So what I did is consume small pieces of the raw turmeric rhizome, sometimes with a bit of black pepper or ginger. When I used turmeric, I noticed that colors became more vibrant and brighter. I observe a similar, if not the same effect with Royal Hojari Green. My theory is that both turmeric & Royal Hojari Frankincense lowers the amount of inflammation in the brain. Lowering inflammation means that less tryptophan is destroyed, allowing more tryptophan to be converted into serotonin in the brain.

So lowering inflammation increases the level of serotonin in the brain. Not only does this contribute to the enhancement in vision acuity that I mentioned, but also contributes to a very nice anti-depressant effect that I also have observed during the mastication of this Hojari gum. The anti-depressant effect I have already described, making me feel peaceful & relaxed. The increase in serotonin also improves the neurogenesis of neurons in the hippocampus, meaning that Boswellia Sacra resin improves memory formation. So the combination of lowering inflammation, increasing brain serotonin, and anti-depressant makes for an extremely potent nootropic or smart drug.

Furthermore, the essential oil component of Boswellia Sacra has something called “α-pinene”. I mentioned before that α-pinene is an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, meaning that it enhances brain function by increasing the level of acetylcholine in the brain. So the α-pinene content may also play a part in memory improvement and brain function enhancement.

Medical & Therapeutic Properties

Boswellia Sacra has a wide range of therapeutic properties. Traditionally, Boswellia sacra gum is used in folk medicine for strengthening the teeth and gum, for stimulating the digestive process, to fight bad breath, to treat inflammatory diseases, arthritic joint pain & cancer.

The anti-inflammatory affect of Boswellia Sacra is due to its boswellic acid content inside the gum. Boswellic acid is an anti-inflammatory that lowers inflammation in the body by inhibiting the lipoxygenase enzyme required for the production of inflammatory interleukins. That means that Boswellia Sacra gum-resin could be used to treat a whole range of inflammatory diseases that results from the body experiencing too much innate inflammation when it is not warranted.

On the other hand, the essential oil of Boswellia Sacra is shown to have analgesic properties stronger than aspirin[34]. The shabi grade of Boswellia Sacra resin showed the strongest pain-killing effect.

Also, both the essential oil and the gum-resin of the Boswellia Sacra has anti-cancer properties. The gum-resin of Boswellia sacra contains boswellic acid, and boswellic acid is shown to have anti-cancer properties. The essential oil of Boswellia sacra, which does not contain a significant amount of boswellic acid, also shows anti-cancer properties.

In fact, a study[35] showed that:

All three human breast cancer cell lines were sensitive to essential oil treatment with reduced cell viability and elevated cell death, whereas the immortalized normal human breast cell line was more resistant to essential oil treatment… preventing the cellular network formation (MDA-MB-231) cells on Matrigel, causing the breakdown of multicellular tumor spheroids (T47D cells), and regulating molecules involved in apoptosis, signal transduction, and cell cycle progression.

The study indicates that the essential oil of Boswellia sacra specifically targeted cancer cells compared to normal cells. I believe that this happens because cancer cells are weaker and function improperly, and thereby are more vulnerable to being damaged. Whereas as healthy cells are stronger and function properly, and thereby able to withstand the apoptotic affect of Boswellia sacra essential oil.

This study also indicated that the temperature of essential oil hydrodistillation mattered. Specifically, the essential oil that was distilled at 100°C was more cytotoxic against cancer cells than an essential oil that was distilled at 78°C. This fact indicates that the heavier chemical components that requires higher heat to be distilled have an anti-cancer property. Which also means that Boswellia sacra essential oil must be hydrodistillation at a higher temperature to extract more of the chemicals with anti-cancer properties.

Boswellia Serrata

Boswellia serrata is a type of frankincense tree that is commonly found natively growing in the dry hilly parts of India and the Punjab region (the area between Northern India & Pakistan).

The frankincense resin that comes out of the Boswellia serrata tree is also known as Indian Olibanum, salaai gugul, shallaki and Dhup. This Indian frankincense is used as an incense, and also in ancient Indian medicine (Ayurveda) for the treatment of osteoarthritis and to improve the function of joints that deteriorate due to osteoarthritis. Indian Frankincense is also used to treat inflammatory diseases, and it also contains an anti-inflammatory chemical called boswellic acid.

Plant Description

The Boswellia serrata is a deciduous (sheds its leaves annually) tree that grows on dry hills, slopes, and gravelly soil. The Indian Frankincense tree can grow up to 3 to 5 meters in height. The bark has the color of grey ash, looks & feels like the texture of rough paper.

The flowers group together like grapes at the end of the branches, small brilliant white things that have very triangular leaves, with 5 petals per each flower.

The leaves are many, medium in size, and wide. The leaves are pinnate, meaning that each stem is a compound leaf consisting of leaflets arranged on either side of the stem (left & right), typically in pairs opposite to each other. At the end of the compound leaf is a single odd leaflet that grows straight forward in direction of the stem.

The compound leaf usually is 20 to 40 centimeters in length, and the leaflets are typically 3 to 6 centimeters in length. The leaflets are ovate, or have a oval shape.

Scent & Taste Profile of Boswellia Serrata


Boswellia serrata has very interesting, sensual smell that I would like to describe as “spicy lavender”.

Taste and Chewing Experience

When I chew Boswellia Serrata resin, the first thing that I taste is mildly spicy, something similar to black pepper. Then I get an overpowering taste of soap. The taste is pungent- in fact, chewing Indian olibanum isn’t pleasant to taste, and I feel like spitting the gum out. There is no bitterness. And there is no “clean” feel in my mouth like the other frankincense gums.

Overtime, the spiciness of Boswellia serrata becomes a more pronounced taste.

Otherwise, this Indian olibanum is quite soft & flexible, without being too sticky. The gum doesn’t become powdery with the first bite or after prolonged chewing. So if it wasn’t for the soapy-alkaline taste, I would have better enjoyed chewing the gum-resin of Boswellia serrata gum resin.

Essential Oil Composition

According to another study[16], the essential oil of Boswellia serrata is composed of:

  • α-thujene (12%)
  • α-pinene (8%)
  • sabinene (2.2%)
  • β-pinene (0.7%)
  • myrcene (3.8%)
  • α-phellandrene (1%)
  • pcymene (1%)
  • limonene (1.9%)
  • linalool (0.9%)
  • perillene (0.5%)
  • methylchavicol (11.6%)
  • methyleugenol (2.1%)
  • germacrene D (2.0%)
  • kessane (0.9%)
  • cembrene A (0.5%)
  • cembrenol (1.9%)
  • monoterpene 5,5-dimethyl-1-vinylbicyclo-
    hexane (2%)
  • diterpenoid m-camphorene (0.7%)
  • diterpenoid p-camphorene (0.3%)

In general, the you can say that the main constituents of Boswellia serrata frankincense essential oil is definitely α-Thujene.

Medicinal Properties & Uses

The gum-resin of Boswellia serrata is used to medicinally treat cancer, inflammation, arthritis, asthma, psoriasis, colitis, and hyperlipidemia.

I believe that one of the main active constituents of Boswellia serrata frankincense is its boswellic acid content of the resin. The boswellic acids found in the resin include:

  • β-boswellic acid
  • acetyl-β-boswellic acid
  • keto-β-boswellic acid
  • acetyl-11-keto-β-boswellic acid

Boswellic acid stops an Enzyme that Produces Inflammatory Molecules

Altogether, these boswellic acids inhibit the arachidonate 5-lipoxygenase enzyme[4][24]. Through the 5-lipoxygenase enzyme inhibition, the different fractions of Boswellia serrata show immediate anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain-killing) effects.

Arachidonate 5-lipoxygenase (ALOX5) enzyme is found in cells that deal with regulating immune system responses like inflammation & allergies. For example, ALOX5 is found in neutrophils, eosinophils, basophils, monocytes, macrophages, mast cells, dendritic cells, and B-lymphocytes. But platelets, T cells, and erythrocytes are ALOX5-negative.

By the way, a neutrophils is a type of white blood cell (of the innate immune system) that releases enzymes in response to infections, allergic reactions, and asthma triggers.

Inflammatory Leukotrienes are Derived from PUFA Oils 

Arachidonate 5-lipoxygenase is an enzyme that transforms essential fatty acids, such as arachidonic acid & eicosapentaenoic acid, into leukotrienes. A leukotriene is an inflammatory eicosanoid, which is a signaling molecules that stimulates the body into a state of inflammation to fight foreign invaders, a.k.a. pathogens.

Inflammation is useful for killing of pathogens and the like. But very often, many of us human beings have problems with leukotrienes going out of control. I suspect that our environment, lifestyle, and diet are partially to blame. For example, I believe people now-a-days consume too much vegetable oil and animal products that are rich in Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFA). PUFA-rich oils are sources for arachidonic acid & eicosapentaenoic acid, and I already mentioned that leukotrienes are derived from those fatty acids.

The result may be that the body overproduces the amount of inflammatory leukotrienes, leading to diseases that are caused by or related to chronic inflammation.

Inhibiting ALOX5 Enzyme Lowers Inflammation by Lowering Leukotriene Levels

Now this is why pharmaceuticals are being developed specifically to target the arachidonate 5-lipoxygenase (ALOX5) enzyme, in order to treat inflammatory diseases. And what do you know, Boswellia serrata does just that by inhibiting the ALOX5 enzyme. By inhibiting the enzyme that is used in the production of leukotrienes, you have less leukotrines in the body & thereby less inflammation. I suppose this is one major way that Boswellia serrata, and other frankincense species that contain boswellic acid, act as an anti-inflammatory.

Boswellia serrata, or Boswellic Acid as an Anti-Cancer Agent

Boswellia serrata also shows very potent anti-cancer properties as well. In fact, one study showed that administering Boswellia serrata as a lipoxygenase inhibitor successfully reversed multiple brain metastases[19].

Before After CT Scan Brain Tumor Boswellia Serrata
Courtesy of Professor Dana Flavin, from “A lipoxygenase inhibitor in breast cancer brain metastases In this image, you can see the before and after CT scan of a patient’s brain. You’ll notice the presence and then absence of brain tumor metastases. What changed after is that the patient was started on a herbal LOX inhibitor, specifically Boswellia serrata.

An oxidoreductase [plant lipoxygenases (LOX)] inhibitor was applied (Boswellia serrata) which has no known major side effects. The enzyme, LOX, arachidonate: oxygen oxidoreductase (form mammalian LOX) is thought to be responsible for edema in primary brain tumors and present ongoing studies on LOX inhibitors in Germany indicate an overall improvement in response to radiation therapy as well as a decrease in some primary brain tumors seen even without radiation. Although it was not known if LOX inhibitors would be helpful in breast cancer brain metastases it was worth considering in this case since she had not only several large tumors but also additional extremely small tumors scattered throughout the brain. She was immediately placed on a LOX inhibitor. Following 10 weeks of therapy, the patient was scheduled for a new CT since her CEA and Ca 15–3 tumor markers had increased. The CT results showed a complete disappearance of all signs of metastases in her brain (Fig. 2a, b).

Lipoxygenase is relevant because the arachidonate 5-lipoxygenase (ALOX5) pathway plays a role in tumor growth and prevents the apoptosis or programmed cell death of tumor cells. Perhaps there is a reason why ALOX5 has this function.

If we conclude that ALOX5 enzyme is raised when the body is fighting pathogens, then perhaps ALOX5 has a preservatory function to keep our body cells alive along with killing pathogenic invaders by increasing the level of inflammation through increased leukotriene production. Normally, catching a pathogen (or a “cold”) would result is a period of inflammation that is acute. But perhaps this cell life-extension function backfires when the period of inflammation is chronic, such that cancer cells are now being allowed to survive.

But back to the main point. Boswellia serrata is able to induce cancer cell death because boswellic acid is responsible for the lipoxygenase inhibiting effect, so any other species of frankincense that has boswellic acid (carterii, dalzielii, papyrifera, sacra) may carry a similar anti-cancer property.

Other Frankincense Species

There are over 20 species of frankincense that currently exist in the world, and it will take quite a bit of time and effort in order to compile information on them. So instead of fully going in-depth with each species, I will quickly collate the information I find on these species in the sections below. Later on, I may fully research these frankincense species in-depth.

Boswellia Neglecta

Essential Oil Composition

The essential oil composition of Boswellia neglecta is rich in α-pinene (32.6–50.7%) followed by terpinen-4-ol (17.5–29.9%) and α-thujene (12.7–16.5%)[22].

Boswellia Rivae

Essential Oil Composition

The essential oil composition of Boswellia Rivae is rich in α-pinene (32.5–66.2%) followed by p-cymene (5.7–21.1%) and limonene (1.1–19.6%)[22].

Related Links

Frankincense Essential Oils

Frankincense Supplements

Frankincense Incense


  1. Chemical differentiation of Boswellia sacra and Boswellia carterii essential oils by gas chromatography and chiral gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. [J Chromatogr A.]
  2. Boswellia dalzielii Hutch. [family BURSERACEAE] [JSTOR]
  3. African plants – A Photo Guide: Boswellia dalzielii Hutch. [WestAfricanPlants]
  4. Anti-inflammatory and analgesic activity of different fractions of Boswellia serrata [Phytomedicine.] [PDF]
  5. Triterpenes of Boswellia frereana [Planta Med.] [PDF]
  6. High-Performance Liquid Chromatographic Analysis of Triterpenoids in Commercial Frankincense [Chromatographia]
  7. Constituents of essential oil of Boswellia frereana [ScienceDirect]
  8. Diindolylmethane and Lupeol Modulates Apoptosis and Cell Proliferation in N-Butyl-N-(4-Hydroxybutyl) Nitrosamine Initiated and Dimethylarsinic Acid Promoted rat Bladder Carcinogenesis. [Pathol Oncol Res.]
  9. Effect of lupeol on antioxidants and xenobiotic enzymes in N-Butyl-N-(4-hydroxybutyl) nitrosamine induced bladder carcinogenesis in experimental rats. [J Exp Ther Oncol.]
  10. Preventive effects of lupeol on DMBA induced DNA alkylation damage in mouse skin. [Food Chem Toxicol.]
  11. Anti-inflammatory activity of lupeol and lupeol linoleate in rats [ScienceDirect]
  12. Lupeol modulates NF-κB and PI3K/Akt pathways and inhibits skin cancer in CD-1 mice [Oncogene]
  13. CDKN2A-p53 mediated antitumor effect of Lupeol in head and neck cancer. [Cell Oncol (Dordr).]
  14. Enhanced chemoprevention by the combined treatment of pterostilbene and lupeol in B[a]P-induced mouse skin tumorigenesis. [Food Chem Toxicol.]
  15. Lupeol and Its Role in Chronic Diseases. [Adv Exp Med Biol.]
  16. Frankincense – therapeutic properties [Postepy Hig Med Dosw (Online).]
  17. Bioactive constituents from Boswellia papyrifera. [J Nat Prod.]
  18. Frankincense oil derived from Boswellia carteri induces tumor cell specific cytotoxicity [BMC: Complementary and Alternative Medicine]
  19. A lipoxygenase inhibitor in breast cancer brain metastases [Journal of Neuro-Oncology]
  20. Chemistry and Immunomodulatory Activity of Frankincense Oil [ResearchGate: Z Naturforsch C.]
  21. Boswellia frereana (frankincense) suppresses cytokine-induced matrix metalloproteinase expression and production of pro-inflammatory molecules in articular cartilage. [Phytother Res.]
  22. Comparative Phytochemical Analyses of Resins of Boswellia Species (B. papyrifera (Del.) Hochst., B. neglecta S. Moore, and B. rivae Engl.) from Northwestern, Southern, and Southeastern Ethiopia [ISRN Anal. Chem.]
  23. Effect of Boswellia papyrifera on cognitive impairment in multiple sclerosis [Iran J Neurol.]
  24. Boswellic acids: novel, specific, nonredox inhibitors of 5-lipoxygenase. [J Pharmacol Exp Ther.]
  25. Efficient preparation of incensole and incensole acetate, and quantification of these bioactive diterpenes in Boswellia papyrifera by a RP-DAD-HPLC method. [Nat Prod Commun.]
  26. The Nuclear Factor NF-κB Pathway in Inflammation [Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol.]
  27. The transcription factor nuclear factor-kappa B and cancer. [Clin Oncol (R Coll Radiol).]
  28. NF-κB directly regulates Fas transcription to modulate Fas-mediated apoptosis and tumor suppression. [J Biol Chem.]
  29. Impaired Thermosensation in Mice Lacking TRPV3, a Heat and Camphor Sensor in the Skin [Science.]
  30. Influence of TRPV3 mutation on hair growth cycle in mice. [Biochem Biophys Res Commun.]
  31. Incensole acetate, an incense component, elicits psychoactivity by activating TRPV3 channels in the brain. [FASEB J.]
  32. Protective effects of incensole acetate on cerebral ischemic injury [Brain Res.]
  33. Oregano, thyme and clove-derived flavors and skin sensitizers activate specific TRP channels. [Nat Neurosci.]
  34. Analgesic effects of crude extracts and fractions of Omani frankincense obtained from traditional medicinal plant Boswellia sacra on animal models [Asian Pac J Trop Med.]
  35. Boswellia sacra essential oil induces tumor cell-specific apoptosis and suppresses tumor aggressiveness in cultured human breast cancer cells [BMC Complement Altern Med.]

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10 thoughts to “Frankincense Types: Medicinal, Psychoactive, Cognitive, Scent Properties & More”

  1. Hi, this is an amazing analyses/blog entry. If I’m understanding this correctly, you are referring to the efficacy of Frank RESINS right? How potent are the EO version in terms of possibly delivering medicinal effects, vs the resins?

    1. Yea, I am talking about the resin that comes out of the frankincense tree. I’m not sure about the essential oil; it looks like some people find benefits from it. But a lot of the medicinal effects come from what is inside the gum- for example, one medicinal substance is called boswellic acid, which is not in the essential oil, and can only be found in the gum.

  2. Great blog! A lot of good info. Thanks for this!
    I have a question for how one could use the gum on skin since you conclude that perhaps there are more medicinal properties in the unadulterated gum. I have used EO on my skin, but hard to know exactly which type your getting and most companies don’t post gas chromatography results. Thanks for any help on this.

    1. Perhaps you can soak the essence of the frankincense in olive oil, and apply that to the skin. But directly applying gum-resin to the skin doesn’t make any sense to me.

      1. Excellent information thanks so much… I am happy to study frankincense deeply. I had no idea of the wide range in varieties and purpose… further. Can you recommend a good outlet to purchase the different varieties please. Ty

  3. I just visited Oman and brought back a few kils of B. sacrae. I’m an herbalist and acupuncturist. I just wrote a blog on Frankincense on my site http://www.planetherbs.com. I’m very excited with the prospects of using frankincense sacra for my patients. One of the complaints it that it gets stuck in the teeth. Is that harmful in any way, is there any way to use it where it doesn’t get stuck in one’s teeth? Tincturing is good but the problem is tht some who i give it to hve an alcool dependency problem.

    I just made a past combining the powder of frankincense with turmeric, salvia miltiorrhiza (dan shen) a Chinese blood moving herb, a small amount of ginger, cardamon and black peppter and glycerin. It’s quite palatable but again taking it causes stickiness on the teeth. your site is definitive and thank you. I’d be very interested in your thoughts.

  4. I have a 19 year old dog, on two capsules of Serrata on her evening meal every day, and she uncoils out of bed, rather than staggers. it’s wonderful stuff. Smells peppery when I mix it in.

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