Frankincense and myrrh essential oils have been used in combination since 1500 BC; however, no antimicrobial investigations have been undertaken to confirm their effect in combination. This study validates the enhanced efficacy when used in combination against a selection of pathogens. 1)

Some findings

All fractions of frankincense essential oil from Boswellia sacra are capable of suppressing viability and inducing apoptosis of a panel of human pancreatic cancer cell lines. Potency of essential oil-suppressed tumor cell viability may be associated with the greater abundance of high molecular weight compounds in Fractions III and IV. Although chemical component(s) responsible for tumor cell cytotoxicity remains undefined, crude essential oil prepared from hydrodistillation of Boswellia sacra gum resins might be a useful alternative therapeutic agent for treating patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma, an aggressive cancer with poor prognosis.2)

FREO (frankincense essential oil) exhibited robust anti-proliferative activity in skin cells. It also significantly inhibited collagen III, interferon gamma-induced protein 10, and intracellular cell adhesion molecule 1. We also studied its effect in regulating genome-wide gene expression. FREO robustly modulated global gene expression. Furthermore, Ingenuity® Pathway Analysis showed that FREO affected many important signaling pathways that are closely related to inflammationThe complex biological response of vascular tissues to harmful stimuli such as pathogens or damaged cells. It is a protective attempt by the organism to remove the injurious stimuli as well as initiate the healing process for the tissue., immune response, and tissue remodeling. This study provides the first evidence of the biological activities of FREO in human dermal fibroblasts. 3)

Similar to our previous observations in human bladder cancer cells, Boswellia sacra essential oil induces breast cancer cell-specific cytotoxicity. Suppression of cellular network formation and disruption of spheroid development of breast cancer cells by Boswellia sacra essential oil suggest that the essential oil may be effective for advanced breast cancer. 4)

Bladder cancer

Frankincense oil appears to distinguish cancerous from normal bladder cells and suppress cancer cell viability. 5)

Human bladder cancer J82 cells were more sensitive to the pro-apoptotic effects of frankincense essential oil than the immortalized normal bladder UROtsa cells. In contrast, sandalwood essential oil exhibited a similar potency in suppressing the viability of both J82 and UROtsa cells. Although frankincense and sandalwood essential oils activated common pathways such as inflammatory interleukins (IL-6 signaling), each essential oil had a unique molecular action on the bladder cancer cells.

Conclusion: The effects of frankincense and sandalwood essential oils on J82 cells and UROtsa cells involved different mechanisms leading to cancer cell death. While frankincense essential oil elicited selective cancer cell death via NRF-2-mediated oxidative stress, sandalwood essential oil induced non-selective cell death via DNA damage and cell cycle arrest. 6)

More research

The oil was found to contain monoterpenes (13.1%), sesquiterpenes (1%), and diterpenes (42.5%) Biologically, the oil exhibited a strong immunostimulant activity (90% lymphocyte transformation) when assessed by a lymphocyte proliferation assay. 7)

The dominant compounds of B. carteri EO were α-pinene (38.41%) and myrcene (15.21%), while C. myrrha EO was characterized by high content of furanoeudesma-1,3-diene (17.65%), followed by curzerene (12.97%), β-elemene (12.70%), and germacrene B (12.15%). Burn incense fume and soot had α-pinene (68.6%) and incensole (28.6%) as the most dominant compounds, respectively. In vitroA technique of performing a given procedure in a controlled environment outside of a living organism - usually a laboratory. antimicrobial assays demonstrated high bacterial and fungal sensitivity to the liquid and vapour phases of EOs, and burn incense fume. 8)

In this study, we assessed the possible effects of frankincense, pine needle and geranium essential oils on cell viability, proliferation, migration and invasion as well as the possible mechanisms. MCF-7 cells were treated with oils, and associations with BC were investigated. In the present study, we clearly revealed that frankincense, pine needle and geranium essential oils suppressed cell viability, proliferation, migration and invasion in human BC MCF-7 cells. Further data demonstrated that frankincense, pine needle and geranium essential oils induced apoptosis, but did not affect cell cycle progression. Consistent with the in vitro activities, frankincense essential oil was effective in inhibiting tumor growth and inducing tumor cell apoptosis in a human BC mouse model. In addition, these 3 essential oils modulated the activity of the AMPK/mTOR signaling pathway. 9)

The present study aimed to solubilize the antineoplastic agent, mitomycin C (MMC), in two nanoemulsions (NEs) consisting of different essential oils (ginger (Gi) and frankincense (Fr)) in order to examine their anticancer activities on the HeLa cervical cancer cells and MCF-7 breast cancer cells. 10)

Using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS), 76 and 99 components were identified in the myrrh and frankincense essential oils, respectively, with the most abundant components, 2-Cyclohexen-1-one, 4-ethynyl-4-hydroxy-3,5,5-trimethyl- and n-Octylacetate, accounting for 12.01 and 34.66%, respectively. The effects of the two essential oils, independently and as a mixture, on five tumor cell lines, MCF-7, HS-1, HepG2, HeLa and A549, were investigated using the MTT assay. The results indicated that the MCF-7 and HS-1 cell lines showed increased sensitivity to the myrrh and frankincense essential oils compared with the remaining cell lines. In addition, the anticancer effects of myrrh were markedly increased compared with those of frankincense, however, no significant synergistic effects were identified. 11)

A patient's fatigue

Fatigue experienced by patients diagnosed with cancer can be debilitating and can be challenging to manage. The use of supportive therapies such as essential oils is gaining popularity among patients diagnosed with cancer. This article describes one patient's experience using frankincense (Boswellia carterii) essential oil to help in the management of her fatigue. The topical application of the frankincense helped to take her fatigue from being barely able to lift her head to being able to do some basic activities of daily living.12)


Boswellia spp. essential oils represent an interesting source of anti-microbial agents in the development of new strategies to prevent and treat biofilms A structured community of microorganisms encapsulated within a self-developed protective matrix and living together.. 13)

A southern hemisphere essential oil

The major aromatic components of the essential leaf oil of the New Zealand lemonwood tree Pittosporum eugenioides are octyl acetate (33%), terpinen-4-ol (13%), decanol (6%) and (Z)-hex-3-enol (5%). These products are responsible for the characteristic Citrus-like aroma which is detected when the leaves are crushed, a phenomenon which provided the species with its common name. The major component of the oil, octyl acetate is also an abundant component of the essential oils of Heracleum and Boswellia species. 14)

Notes and comments


The additive and synergistic antimicrobial effects of select frankincense and myrrh oils--a combination from the pharaonic pharmacopoeia.
de Rapper S, Van Vuuren SF, Kamatou GP, Viljoen AM, Dagne E
Lett Appl Microbiol54p352-8(2012 Apr)
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.
Ni X, Suhail MM, Yang Q, Cao A, Fung KM, Postier RG, Woolley C, Young G, Zhang J, Lin HK
BMC Complement Altern Med12p253(2012 Dec 13)
Biological activities of frankincense essential oil in human dermal fibroblasts.
Han X, Rodriguez D, Parker TL
Biochim Open4p31-35(2017 Jun)
Boswellia sacra essential oil induces tumor cell-specific apoptosis and suppresses tumor aggressiveness in cultured human breast cancer cells.
Suhail MM, Wu W, Cao A, Mondalek FG, Fung KM, Shih PT, Fang YT, Woolley C, Young G, Lin HK
BMC Complement Altern Med11p129(2011 Dec 15)
Frankincense oil derived from Boswellia carteri induces tumor cell specific cytotoxicity.
Frank MB, Yang Q, Osban J, Azzarello JT, Saban MR, Saban R, Ashley RA, Welter JC, Fung KM, Lin HK
BMC Complement Altern Med9p6(2009 Mar 18)
Chemistry and immunomodulatory activity of frankincense oil.
Mikhaeil BR, Maatooq GT, Badria FA, Amer MM
Z Naturforsch C58p230-8(2003 Mar-Apr)
Frankincense and myrrh essential oils and burn incense fume against micro-inhabitants of sacral ambients. Wisdom of the ancients?
Ljaljević Grbić M, Unković N, Dimkić I, Janaćković P, Gavrilović M, Stanojević O, Stupar M, Vujisić L, Jelikić A, Stanković S, Vukojević J
J Ethnopharmacol219p1-14(2018 Jun 12)
Composition and potential anticancer activities of essential oils obtained from myrrh and frankincense.
Chen Y, Zhou C, Ge Z, Liu Y, Liu Y, Feng W, Li S, Chen G, Wei T
Oncol Lett6p1140-1146(2013 Oct)
In vitro anti-biofilm activity of Boswellia spp. oleogum resin essential oils.
Schillaci D, Arizza V, Dayton T, Camarda L, Di Stefano V
Lett Appl Microbiol47p433-8(2008 Nov)
home/othertreatments/frankincense.txt · Last modified: 12.31.2018 by sallieq
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