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Frankincense – The Most Thoroughly Researched Oil To Date

Home Forums Essential Oil Properties Essential Oils and Anti-Cancer Research Frankincense – The Most Thoroughly Researched Oil To Date

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    ananda staff

    [b][/url], the online database of the National Institute of Health.[/color] [/b]

    [b][url=]Frankincense oil[/url] and extracts (CO2 oils are “extracts”) have more research studies noting its anti-cancer properties than any other. [/b]There are no, as far as we can tell, publications which have found the resin or the oil [i]not[/i] to affect cancerous cells as to lead to their death. (There is research on several other oils, which we’ll post separately).

    [b]The feature of Frankincense which has impressed us the most is it’s action seems universal, in the respect that it has worked on every cell line it’s been tested on. [/b]These cell lines are cancer cells from different organ systems, and of the blood. AND, (at least in the one study which made note of this point) at the concentrations tested, healthy cells were unaffected. At total of 43 abstracts are returned on PubMed for the search term “frankincense cancer”.

    It was the [url=]CO2 distillation of Frankincense[/url] (which Ananda carries) that first changed the minds of “old school” medical aromatherapy professionals [i]about[/i] CO2 oils, as the CO2s, rather than the essential oils, have a higher percentage of the long chain, larger molecules from the resin — to which much of the therapeutic activity is attributed. And for some time it was only the [i]carteri[/i] species for which you would see data, though now both[i] carteri[/i] and [i]seratta[/i] species of [i]Boswellia[/i] trees (from which “Frankincense” – the dried sap of the tree – is collected).

    [b]Below is an abstract testing the oil on cancer cells originally found in the bladder. Note the sentence: [color=#BF0000]“Frankincense oil appears to distinguish cancerous from normal bladder cells and suppress cancer cell viability”.[/color] [/b]

    A study in the journal BioMed Central journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2009 Mar 18;9:6. titled: “[b][u]Frankincense oil derived from [i]Boswellia carteri [/i]induces tumor cell specific cytotoxicity[/u][/b]” concludes with: “[u][b]Frankincense oil appears to distinguish cancerous from normal bladder cells and suppress cancer cell viability[/u]. Microarray and bioinformatics analysis proposed multiple pathways that can be activated by frankincense oil to induce bladder cancer cell death. Frankincense oil might represent an alternative intravesical agent for bladder cancer treatment[/b].”

    (We will post more abstracts here soon, along with posts regarding other essential oils and research regarding their anti-cancer properties — we are gathering information from the distiller of the oil to help us best present the data to you).
    [color=#BF0000]About Using the Essential Oil For This Property[/color][/b]

    [b]It’s crucial to note that in no way should one decide for themselves to utilize Frankincense or other essential oils to manage a diagnosis of cancer. There are no protocols, and, well, we can’t be held responsible for your choices. It’s also important to know that oils in general will cause an altering of the effect of chemotherapy drugs. Whether this is good or bad is up for questioning — from a study called “[u]Linalool, a plant-derived monoterpene alcohol, reverses doxorubicin resistance in human breast adenocarcinoma cells[/u]” published in Oncology Reports 2008 Sep;20(3):625-30, researchers stated “[u]a number of studies have shown the ability of chemopreventive phytochemicals to increase the sensitivity of cancer cells to conventional anticancer drugs[/u]“.[/b] While it has been thought that it’s possible that essential oils would prevent chemotherapy drugs from working, clearly the possibility for the opposite is open, and is worth discussing with a doctor should the situation arise.

    [b]That said, there’s no reason NOT to use the oil in a prophylactic (preventative) manner, should you feel it would be helpful to your health. [/b]One staff member who has a history of lung cancer in his family sleeps with the combination oil of Frankincense [i]carteri[/i] + [i]seratta[/i] diffusing in his room at night. One customer has reported to us, through use of a 10% concentration of Frankincense carteri in Kukui oil, that a breast tumor had disappeared, and that her oncologist could not believe that was the reason (though they had made no progress for quite some time, and there was no other apparent change in her medical protocol). SO, while we’re not saying DON’T use the oils for their anti-cancer effects, we are saying use them wisely.
    Inhaling Frankincense from a diffuser to prevent the possibility of cancer is a wise use of the oil. Talking to a physician, if one has been diagnosed with cancer, about its use FIRST, is also wise use of the oil. And we’re not saying that Frankincense will treat or prevent cancer — we’re only relaying the data. You may make of it what you will.[/b]

    [b]If you’d like to read more — and you have a little time, as browsing the abstracts for pertinent information can be a little time consuming — you might visit and search (for example) for each of these oils, plus the word “cancer” or “tumor”:[/b] Basil, Frankincense, Sandalwood, Rosewood, Lemongrass, “Linalool” (a constituent of many essential oils) – there are likely more that will return results, though this as far as we’ve gotten ourselves.

    We’ll post more in this forum soon – and please ask questions or contribute if you like!


    WOW. wow.
    I am very interested now, and am impressed with the information presented.
    Thank you for sharing. I have book-marked the database site.
    So in these studies, was the oil applied directly to the cancerous cells?
    What would be the most effective method of application? Taking oil within capsule orally, or directly applied to the area of the body effected by the cancer?

    Thank you for your time.

    Also, out of curiosity, what is your profession?


    ananda staff

    Hi Keegan,

    Regarding the Frankincense, there are no protocols developed that you’ll see in aromatherapy guidebooks just yet. Some people do apply the oil in small amounts directly to their skin, or diluted in a carrier oil, others ingest small amounts, and others inhale the oil using a diffuser. Use in a carrier oil on the skin allows the oil to pass through the skin and into underlying tissues. Inhalation of the oil can result in small measurable amounts of the oil in the bloodstream.

    The research was done using cultured cells — essentially in a petri dish — and it was found that Frankincense extract, at certain concentrations of the fluid in which the cells live, cancerous cells died, while non-cancerous ones appeared unaffected. You can make what you will of that — it’s as much as we have to go on at the moment — though I have seen one study where ingestion of Frankincense resin by breast cancer patients limited further metastasis in other parts of the body. (J Neurooncol. 2007 Mar;82(1):91-3. Epub 2006 Sep 26.
    “A lipoxygenase inhibitor in breast cancer brain metastases.” In the abstract, the researchers note “Boswellia serrata, a lipoxygenase inhibitor was applied for this inhibition.” – Boswellia seratta being Frankincense from trees growing in North Africa and India (we carry a ‘Supercritical Carbondioxide extract of Boswellia seratta”, or simply [url=]Frankincense CO2[/url] ‘seratta’, as well as ‘carteri’, which has been the subject of other positive studies — and we even have a blend of the two oils together on the same page).

    Folks will use the oil prophylactically (particularly the CO2 oils), sort of as a supplement, in the manners described (topically, inhaled, or ingested). If you’re managing cancer yourself, I wouldn’t really be in a position to tell you how to use the oil to manage the illness. Let me preamble my next statements with the facts that these statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, and our products are not intended to treat, cure or prevent any disease.

    Given that, I do know users (such as myself) who run Frankincense in a diffuser while I sleep, so I’m inhaling it — getting it in my bloodstream and in contact with the cells of my respiratory system. I’ve also applied to spots on my skin I felt “questionable”, and they’d disappeared. Were they cancerous or precancerous? I really don’t know. There’s really a wide variety of methods of use, and learning more about aromatherapy in general will help you get an idea as to which of these methods you, or someone you know, might be the most supportive for. I suppose what I’m trying to say is there’s no professional publication noting something like: For cancers of the skin, create a XX% concentration of Frankincense in (a particular carrier) oil and apply X times per day…etc….

    If you’ve further questions, send an email to
    (Oh, and stay tuned to this forum, as I’ll be posting information regarding other essential oils and skin cancer in the near future).



    Hi Eric –

    Someone I know is in the late stages of cancer and he’s desperate to try anything. The doctors have only given him a short while to live. I relayed the information on lemongrass and frankincense and he’s very interested in trying it. I understand there’s no protocol. I read under the lemongrass eo, that a 5-10% is recommended for topical use. What would you suggest for frankincense? I just read in the previous post about the gal who used 10%. He’s in his mid 60’s – should I start with a lower concentration, given his age? I was going to give him the diluted version to apply to his feet and lymph nodes. He’s also going to try diffusing the frankincense while he sleeps.

    Thanks again for all your help!


    Does your Frankincense have Boswellic Acid in it?

    ananda staff

    Hi Amy,

    I spoke with the distiller about this particular subject. It is my understanding that, no, essential oils and SCO2 distillations (we carry both) of Frankincense resin do not have boswellic acids in them. The molecules are much to large to be aromatic compounds. Hence, you’ll find these in water-based creams and the like…though there are exceptionally-powerful anti-inflammatory essential oils such as Helichrysum (which I use ‘neat’ all the time, and more than any other essential oil) and German Chamomile (should be used at no more than 2% concentration in a blend).

    Hope this helps!
    ~ Eric

    ananda staff


    SO sorry I missed your question. I hope you found your answer somewhere. You can always email us for information. If the cancer is within the body, it could be suggested that one ingests Frankincense CO2’s (most of ours are – SCO2’s, actually) 5 drops, 3 times per day, and diffuse it continuously in their space all the time. One’s body would respond negatively to it if/when one had too much.

    Hope this helps.

    All the Best,

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