History and Uses
Frankincense resin has been used by humans for its aromatic and medicinal properties for thousands of years. Frankincense has been found in Egyptian tombs and was one of the gifts given at the birth of Jesus, according to legend. The Egyptians sourced their resin from the land of Punt, a semi-mythical and ill-defined place somewhere most likely in Africa. Queen Hatshepsut is said to have conducted an expedition to Punt in order to obtain more resin. Since then, it has been used as incense in both religious ceremonies and for its pleasant scent, as well as gum in Arabia.
Today, frankincense resin is still chewed as gum in Saudi Arabia and used as incense by many churches worldwide. It is also turned into essential oil for use in cosmetics, perfumes, and aromatherapy. Additionally, frankincense has a number of medical applications. Boswellic acid, a constituent of the resin, is used as an anti-inflammatory agent to treat arthritis. The essential oil has anti-aging properties and a number of studies have suggested that it may kill cancer cells.