Frankincense Essential Oil: Questions, Answers, and Curiosity


The curiosity is all mine. So are most of the questions. Frankincense essential oil? Say what, Willis?

As for answers, I have few of those, but–even at this early date–those few are worth sharing. A few weeks ago, a writer friend happened to mention that his wife was experiencing considerable pain relief for her injured back by mixing three essential oils, placing a few drops of the mixture into a gelcap every two hours, and tossing the cap down the hatch. Fifty percent relief, he said. With Pam’s 24/7 pain problems, that’s the sort of anecdote we don’t blithely ignore. It might not work, but whether we understood the mechanics or not, it couldn’t hurt.


As it turned out, the mix was not for her. Even a couple of drops of the mixture (in a veggie cap, which my online research indicated might be a better way to go) produced unacceptable explosive trips to the toilet. Pam has IBS verging on Crohn’s disease. Anything that messes with her fragile innards is off the table as an option. It might be true that the restroom explosions would settle down over time and she’d end up leaping tall buildings in a single bound if she stayed on the stuff, but with her weight already a challenge at a mere eighty-something pounds, we’re not taking any chances.

End of experimentation with essential oils, right?

Not quite. While researching the subject, I uncovered numerous online articles touting the benefits of applying one of the three oils topically. In other words, rubbing the stuff on the skin. That particular essential oil was frankincense.

Whoa, I thought. Isn’t that one of the Gifts of the Magi? Didn’t the Three Wise Kings bring gifts to baby Jesus of gold, frankincense, and myrrh? Maybe I should pay attention here!

Most of the bottles of essential oils found on Amazon come in teeny tiny little bottles, ten or fifteen ml being the most common sizes. If I intended to apply frankincense topically–using a bit of it mixed with a larger volume of a carrier oil–a larger size would be needed…so I added a big ol’ four ounce bottle to the order.

But what had I ordered? First of all, what is frankincense, really? Part of the answer was found at gotquestions dot org:

Frankincense is a white resin or gum. It is obtained from a tree by making incisions in the bark and allowing the gum to flow out. It is highly fragrant when burned and was therefore used in worship, where it was burned as a pleasant offering to God (Exodus 30:34). Frankincense is a symbol of holiness and righteousness. The gift of frankincense to the Christ child was symbolic of His willingness to become a sacrifice, wholly giving Himself up, analogous to a burnt offering.

Very interesting. Next up, let’s go the ye olde classic repository of all wit and wisdom known as Wikipedia, which explains the source. Most frankincense is taken from the Boswellia sacra tree, so apparently you can’t just go out and tap a pine or maple or mesquite tree to get the stuff. Who knew? Sure, it’s been traded for more than five thousand years, considered both sacred (in some cultures) and medically beneficial (in many cultures), but so what? I loudly proclaim the right to stoutly defend my ignorance! Whoo. Ranting like that is exhausting.

Farther down that same Wikipedia page, the following entry appears:

In a study published in 2009, it was reported that “Frankincense oil appears to distinguish cancerous from normal bladder cells and suppress cancer cell viability.”

Some online writers describe using frankincense oil to successfully remove skin tags and sun damaged brown spots on the skin. Yeah, let’s give this Magi Approved product a definite try. But first, what did the term “essential oil” mean? Essential to what? Oh, wait. Essential as in “of the essence”? That might make more sense. Frankincense, even.

It turns out I was close, although “essence” is really a shorter form of “quintessence”. Looks like a bit of steaming and distilling leaves an expert with the quintessence of the original plant product. So that’s how we get the oil…but how does it work in (or on) the body? Specifically, what makes frankincense essential oil so magical that a member of the Magi selected it as a gift to Jesus more than two thousand years ago and I decided to order a bottle of it as a gift to myself a mere two weeks ago?

Hah! Thought I might toss in a few more quotation selections here, did you? Nope. Not happening. There’s just too much out there. Tell you what: Google search “how do essential oils work”. You’ll see millions of Google results pop right up, a total of 18,500,000 of ’em when I did it. Don’t believe I’ll try to summarize what all those other folks already summarized.

But I will share my personal experience to date as follows:


1. Reduction in the size of swollen lymph nodes. It’s far too soon to be certain of the effect, mostly because I began applying frankincense essential oil (in coconut oil as a carrier oil) to the affected areas during the middle of a ten day brown rice fast. The nodes have been a challenge for the past three years. I did a brown rice fast two years ago and the node sizes were reduced dramatically by the end of the fast, but the improvement was temporary. If the nodes get “totally fixed” over time, I’ll post an update with photos in a month or two.

2. Comfort. Wow. I only apply the oil once (or sometimes twice) per day, but the process is so soothing that I find myself looking forward to it with pleasure. Being a Caucasian male, 72 years of age, who has almost never done anything to take care of his skin…this is a new experience.

3. Scent. I barely notice the aroma, though online sources describe frankincense has a super nice smell when burned. Hey, why would I burn it?! But my wife describes it as light and pleasant, and–on me at least, though she fortunately does not have this reaction when it’s on her–“I need to stay away from you or I’m going to jump your bones!” (Since her bone-jumping apparatus is not in good health and any such activity would put her at risk, this could be seen as a “downside” to the oil.)

4. Pre-shave and after shave lotion. The first morning I applied the oil, I happened to put some on my neck but not on my face. The razor practically flowed over the skin where the oil had been applied. Of course, any oil might have done that. However, by the next time I shaved (a couple of days later), I was applying the mixture from the top of my head down onto my upper chest. Forget the Mennen’s Skin Bracer (which I started using 57 years ago at the age of 15); frankincense/coconut is the way to go. Not only that, but I’d had a skin irritation problem, right below my nose–especially on the right side–ever since having my teeth extracted in 1992. Red patches, always…until now. Twenty-four years of splotchy B.S., gone just like that. Smooth as a baby’s backside.

5. Bumps in the skin next to either side of the nose, running all the way up to the lower eyelid, had developed just this year. A couple dozen of them at least. All gone after just one application of frankincense essential oil.

6. Skin tags, tiny but irritating and unsightly, at least a dozen of them…gone after three or four applications.

7. Sun-damaged brown spots on face and backs of hands…going. Not gone yet, but clearly fading already.

8. Crusty skin patches on the top of the skull, primarily in the bald area…going. It used to gross even me out, running my fingers over those Cruddy Crusts, which is one reason few other than Pam ever see me without a hat or cap. After one application reduced the crud by more than half, I went to Fred’s Barber Shop in Sierra Vista (on Fry Blvd., not far from the Ft. Huachuca Army base) and had him shave my head. Oiling the old billiard ball now!


Not a bad starter list for a mere week or so of frankincense essential oil application. It seems likely there will be an update or two along the way.

9 thoughts on “Frankincense Essential Oil: Questions, Answers, and Curiosity

  1. Very nice article on something that now sounds like an “essential” gift for me (just like you gifted yourself). Skin tags and skin irritation and other little details in my skin would be great to address in such a simple and straightforward manner, Ghost. Thanks!……

  2. Going to have to check this out now. I have really dry skin from Graves Disease and no thyroid. Gets really uncomfortable, even with applying lotion twice a day. Maybe it will help. Cocoa butter helps temporarily, but not for long. I also have some coconut oil, so might try it.

  3. Manny: You’re welcome, but also, Thank YOU, especially from Pam. Your mention of Cipro potentially causing tendonitis and/or tendon ruptures got her to thinking back…and she realized that in her case, sure enough, her most recent usage of that antibiotic was probably the root cause of increased tendon pain that lasted quite a while after completing the course of antibiotics. So now we’re gearing up mentally to ask her doctor and/or our friendly pharmacists…what MIGHT she be able to use? She’s already known to be allergic to quite a few.
    Becky: It’s certainly worth a try. One caveat: I suspect I used more Frankincense in with the coconut oil than I should have. Had kind of a feverish feel for a while today, eventually sweated it out and that was that, but it’s quite possible I’d slathered on enough oil to produce a mild overdose reaction once the essential oil entered my bloodstream. First mix was roughly 1:20; next time around, I’ll go with 1:100 or 1:200. That’s the only “possible side effect” so far, though, and the benefits are continuing to be worth it and then some.

    Example: New result: Today, Pam’s body ejected a dozen or so “little black coffee grounds” from a sore spot (presumably psoriasis) on her lower leg. We know these “coffee grounds” to be Morgellon’s syndrome critters, first contracted during her homeless period more than 20 years ago. They’re definite parasites, entirely unrecognized by the AMA, and it’s good to see them hating the Frankincense Effect.

  4. Ghost, I love this! I have brown spots on my face and lower arms that drive me crazy. I also have some of those bumps you mentioned. Plus, I have a skin tag near my lower girly part that has been there since giving birth almost 24 years ago.

    I want to try this concoction!! Do you use the solid coconut oil or do you melt it down first? And what’s the ratio of frankincense to coconut oil?

  5. Sha, we do have some of the solid coconut oil on hand, but that’s not what we use for oil mixing. For that, we use Nature’s Way Liquid Coconut Premium Oil (we get it from Amazon). It stays liquid all the time, at least at room temperature. Ratio we use is roughly 20:1 (twenty parts coconut oil, 1 part frankincense).

  6. Thanks, Ghost. I’ve printed this entire article, including the comments, for reference.

    I want to apologize to you. I’ve gotten extremely behind in my reading since I started my new job in January. I try to catch up during my lunch hours, but can only read those that don’t require full attention. Your stories require full attention because they’re so detailed and full of twists and turns. And I LOVE your stories. I see you’ve started a new one and I fully intend on reading, but not during the work week. By the time I get home I don’t feel like getting on the computer, so I don’t. At age 59 and still working full time, I’ve earned that prerogative. (Insert smiley face here).

    You know I love you and Pam. I’ve not forsaken you. I’ve just fallen behind. Plus, now that I don’t have the stress of trying to make a living at writing (my accounting skills are much more lucrative), I’ve rejoined my soul with some of my other passions that fell by the wayside while I was a writer for hire. Mainly, gardening. I’ve gotten back into it and am enjoying bringing my Self back into the fold.

    Hugs and Kisses,

  7. Aw-w-w, hugs and kisses, both! Thanks, Sha, but you certainly did not need to apologize. If there’s anybody who understands the limitations of an over-full plate, that would be me. 🙂

    Delighted to hear you’ve managed to simplify your life. Pam and I were just discussing the fact this evening that if it weren’t for the precise property I chose for our homesite in 2009–with relative privacy and oodles of interactive wildlife hanging out on a daily basis–she would not be alive today. Great simplification there, even as compared with “normal” in-town existence.

  8. I bought some Frankincense and liquid coconut oil. I’m trying it on my face at night and on a few spots on my arms. I haven’t really seen an improvement yet. I’ll keep adding drops of the Frankincense until I find a ratio that works. I started out with 6 drops to one ounce of coconut oil. After a few days I added 3 more. I’m not sure how many more I should add. Any suggestions?

  9. Sha, I don’t measure the drops as such, just eyeball the little blue glass I use to mix and store the stuff, guesstimate about “one twentieth” of Frankincense oil on the bottom, fill the rest with coconut oil, shake it up a bit, and that’s that.

    I can’t say I’ve seen a huge skin improvement, either, but after adding a like amount of Eucalyptus oil (DoTerra brand), I have noticed granular stuff coming to the surface over my worst swollen lymph node area. Toxins being pushed out. I can scrape them away with my finger. Nodes are down quite a bit from peak, but no certainty yet; one of them flared up again just this evening.

    Just today, I started taking activated charcoal supplement as well; too early to say much about that. And we’ve got some Redmond brand bentonite clay coming, which Pam and I are both hoping will work externally as a poultice to draw out toxins. Good Amazon reviews on it, for sure, though some reviewers do caution not to leave poultices or face masks on for too long at any one time.

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