Frankincense Oil – Fit for the Gods!

Frankincense Oil and Cancer - A Quality Standard ApproachA ceremonial incense of divinity, the tree resin Boswellia serrata (frankincense) and its essential oil derivative have historically been used to ward off evil spirits and connect humans to divine spirits and realms.  It is primarily a popular incense and perfume, but is also used in cosmetics and skin treatments with some indication that it may fight cancerous cells – although this is a claim that has yet to be affirmatively and scientifically proven.

Frankincense Essential Oil

Background: Another name for frankincense is olibanum and this refers to the aromatic resin that is retrieved from trees of the genus Boswellia. Frankincense essential oil is derived from the Boswellia resin.  There are only four species that are known to produce what can be considered real frankincense resin, and the resin is produced by these trees in varying quality levels.  Adding to the romanticism of frankincense is the origin of its name, having evolved from the Old French “frank encens” – which is directly translated as “high quality incense” [6].

Frankincense is famously well-known, especially if you’ve grown up in a Christian, Christmas-celebrating household: in the bible frankincense is reported to have been carried to baby Jesus by the three wise men as a gift in honor of his birth [6].  In fact, frankincense has also historically been one of the most popular essential oils – having been used religiously or spiritually in ceremonies and celebrations throughout many ancient cultures. Additionally, frankincense is an incense consistently found throughout historical religious and meditational practices of the Western world. Just about every ancient western culture is known to have used frankincense ceremonially – particularly throughout Sumeria, Babylon, Egypt, Assyria, Greece and Rome [2].

It is believed to have come to these major social or cultural centers through trade with the Arabs, Somalis and Bedouins – who purportedly obtained the resin from small desert trees in Saudi Arabia and Somalia and had been doing so for thousands upon thousands of years [2].

Use: Traditionally, frankincense is probably most widely used as an incense – in fact the word was essentially synonymous with incense throughout Western cultures.   “It was the scent of purification”, burned to ward off evil and to open oneself to divine presences – enabling a connection with higher spirits and a level of contemplation necessary for these divine connections; frankincense represented a divine connection between heaven and earth [2].

This spiritual affiliation of frankincense with the world of divinity overlapped with its use as a perfume and its use in skin care regimens.  The ancients as well as people today have used frankincense widely within their hygiene practices, and in some cultures this is correlated with its use to ward off illness and bad energy. As a kind of aesthetic extension of its spiritually related purpose, the resin was also combined with kohl and used as black eyeliner to ward off “the evil eye” and was even used in a special concoction that removed unwanted hair [2]!

It has also been used in Asian, African and Ayurvedic traditional medicine to treat several digestive and skin-related health conditions as well as arthritis, wounds, female hormonal balance and air purification [6].

Frankincense Resin

Blending: Frankincense is a component of “kyphi” – a house incense within the temples of Heliopolis, burnt every sunset to honor the evening departure of the sun god.  Frankincense can also be found along with about 16 other ingredients in sacred incense recipes of the  Talmud.  One particular biblical recipe includes stacte (might be myrrh), onycha (musk), galbanum and frankincense [2].

Safety: While the resin of frankincense is reported to be edible [6] it is extremely important to consult with a physician before ever ingesting essential oils in any form.  Essential oils can be incredibly potent – and even if they yield benefits in small doses, too much can often be harmful and some aren’t supposed to be ingested at all.  If they are ingested it is often under the direct recommendation or oversight of a health practitioner that is specialized in the use of natural health remedies.

Additionally, although there are several studies linking Boswellia resin and essential oil to the termination of cancer cells, it has not yet been proven conclusively and it would be best to discuss such a topic with a health practitioner.

The online resource Pubmed perhaps says it best: “limited conclusions can be drawn from the preliminary findings of this laboratory study as it is yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal. And some of the claims should not be taken at face value; in particular the press release’s claim that frankincense has no known side effects. Such claims would need rigorous scientific evaluation before they could be verified [5].”  However, it is worth noting that frankincense has since been discussed in peer-reviewed journals and other scientific platforms that were discussed briefly above.

All considered though, frankincense is clearly one of the most romantic and sensually elegant of the essential oils; with its divine history, frankincense essential oil is truly fit for the gods and the beautiful human spirits amongst us!


1. Asian News International. “Frankincense could harbor breast cancer cure”. Al Bawaba (Middle East) Ltd. New Delhi, Nov 7, 2013.

2. Holmes, Peter. “Frankincense Oil: The Rainbow Bridge”. International Journal of Aromatherapy, Vol. 9 (4), January 1998: p. 156-161.

3. Howell, Jeremy. “Frankincense: Could it be a cure for cancer?”.  BBC World News, Feb 9, 2010:

4. Ni, Xiao; Suhail, Mahmoud M; Yang, Qing, 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 Complimentary and Alternative Medicine, Vol. 12 (1), 2012: p. 253.

5. Pub Med Health. “Can frankincense really fight cancer?” Behind the Headlines, Health News from NHS Choices, Dec 23, 2013: news/2013-12-23-can-frankincense-really-fight-cancer/

6. Wikipedia. “Frankincense”. Last updated, Sept 22, 2014:

12 thoughts on “Frankincense Oil – Fit for the Gods!

  1. Ruth

    Great Article indeed! I too have faith that more and more people will be so tired of the toxicity of the products from our pharmaceuticals that they will take that leap into the void and begin trying alternative methods to optimize their health. Yes, we are the teachers and forerunners and must continue to spread the wonderful knowledge; reeling people back in to taking their health back into their hands.

  2. Dr. M. Suhail

    It is indeed a wonderful analytic point of view, but in order to explain the recent strategy of the research allow me to number few points;

    -It is essential to mention that Professor Lin H.K. (Oklahoma Medical Science University) has the major and most important contribution in this research.

    - It is definite by now and after testing the effect of frankincense essential oil on few cancer cell lines (cancer cell cultures) e.g. bladder cancer, pancreatic cancer, and malignant melanoma, that frankincense essential oil is capable of inducing cancer cell apoptosis (cell death) during which the cancer cell cytoplasm shrink and undergo lyses even before nucleus fragmentation (which is a hall mark of apoptosis) which means that the nucleus cease supporting unprogrammed cell multiplication (an effect that point that some components of frankincense essential oil target post-transcription control of protein synthesis which is the last known step of proteins synthesis inside the cytoplasm).

    - Toxic index in In-Vitro study (laboratory study) was about 2,75 (which means that toxic concentration that was necessary to affect normal transitional epithelium bladder cells was 2.75 folds therapeutic concentration which terminates all cancer cells in culture within few hours preserving all normal cells).

    - In Vivo study (human study) means that the medicine should be administered into the body (by different ways including oral intake, sublingual intake, and Parenteral administration). Frankincense essential oil (as well as frankincense resin) is safe to be taken by mouth and in fact it is a traditional treatment in the Sultanate of Oman. The standard tolerated dose is about 0.04ml of the essential oil per Kg of body weight as estimated by Human Equivalent Dose (HED) which is a scientific way to correlate between human and animal dose (after testing the dose on animals). Still the dose should be corrected if the patient is suffering from elevated liver enzymes or impaired renal function test (as all medicine may require).
    As most advanced cases of cancer develop metastasis and hence a Parenteral route of administration is mandatory ,and exclusion of components that may cause hepatotoxicity in particular when given into blood circulation is a most.
    Now, you may ask ”So at least we can start by now treating newly diagnosed patients with bladder cancer who present without metastasis?”. By logic the answer is YES but according to FDA regulations, we cannot state that frankincense oil can cure cancer till fulfill 3 requirements; It should be proved safe, tolerable and effective (animal study then human trial). So meanwhile it is allowed only to state that frankincense essential oil can HELP in patients with cancer.

    -Frankincense resin market is absolutely not affected (till the moment at least) by the research result, and to give you a hint; Annual production of Frankincense resin in the Sultanate of Oman only is about 7000 MT and increasing. 34 MT is enough for all cancer patients in USA at the uppermost.

    -There are no attempts to make a pharmaceutical copy of active components, and in fact, no pharmaceutical industries are involved in the research. The recent work is to find out the optimum method for extracting the essential oil then fractionation based on cancer cell line cultures results.

    The interview with Mr. Jeremy Howell (BBC reporter) was hard indeed as he was keep telling me to simplify my words and use common language and it took us about 11 rounds! But I agree with his point of view as the program target all people.

    We would be glad to answer any enquiry as the research is indeed an open source one and not meant for anything but serving human.

    M. Suhail (M.D.)

    1. michael Post author

      Thank you Mahmoud, for posting a reply to this article. I appreciate the constraints in which you are working.

      Can you send me more data/statistics/studies about the usage of the oil and how it has “helped” cancer patients in non-US regions, particularly in your region? I could then pass that information along to our subscribers. It could be helpful to a lot of people and it would be greatly appreciated. I know we cannot say “cure” yet, but “helping” is a good start.

      Please keep me posted on any progress you are having and I will be glad to put the word out.



      1. Dr. M. Suhail

        Giving that data build up is so fast and the spectrum of cancer lines frankincense essential oil is effective on keep widening, we cannot find the time to blot statistics.
        In fact we, the research group is planning to establish a website to publish all the details and progress (open source) in the near future.
        Results are extremely promising but a formal clinical trial is not yet established.
        Just imagine; the spectrum of the research start from the soil, the tree, climate effect, processing of resin, different methods of extraction by custom made equipments, chemical analysis, cell line cultures and testing, different molecular biology techniques, pathology, clinical interpretation,,,,etc. and we are only 4 researches thousands of miles away and working without any resources (so every one has its basic job to do!). i doubt that any one of the research group slept well for the last 2 years.

        M. Suhail

      2. M. Suhail

        Just an update regarding dose;
        0.18 – 0.2 ml per kg body weight per day was tested to be well tolerated and matching maximum therapeutic effect. It was proved safe clinically and by biochemical analysis.

        M. Suhail

        1. Jovan Tadic

          Dear M. Suhail,

          Thanks for the update. I have very specific question since I would like to suggest this treatment for the patient with bladder cancer without metastasis. The patient has 66 Kgs of bodu weight. Obviously, according to your updated dosage, she should take 12 ml of this oil per day, but should she do it at once? By oral administration? Or divided in subdoses, e.g. 4+4+4? Or what is the best way? Thanks a lot!



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