Natural Health Products

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General Information

Frankincense is an aromatic resin that comes from Boswellia trees. The resin is obtained by making a cut in the tree bark, then allowing the resin to leak out of the cut and harden.

Common Name(s)
Bible frankincense, frankincense, incense, olibanum
Scientific Name(s)

Boswellia sacra

How is this product usually used?

The bark resin is used to make medicine. It may be taken orally, applied topically, used as a mouth rinse, or inhaled. When taken orally, the adult dose of frankincense ranges from 3 g to 8 g of the dry gum resin per day.

For dry extracts, tinctures, and fluid extracts it is recommended to take 3 g to 5 g of stem bark resin per day. For decoction it is recommended to take 3 g to 10 g of stem bark resin per day.

Your health care provider may have recommended using this product in other ways. Contact a healthcare provider if you have questions.

What is this product used for?

Frankincense taken orally has been used:

  • as an astringent
  • as a diuretic
  • to relieve nervous problems

In traditional Chinese medicine, frankincense has been used orally to promote circulation of qi (life force or energy flow), to relieve urinary disorders, and to drive away wind-dampness.

Frankincense taken as a mouth rinse:

  • to help relieve mild inflammations of the gums, mouth, and throat

Frankincense taken topically has been used:

  • to treat clusters of boils
  • to promote tissue regeneration
  • to promote healing of injuries, and sores
  • to relieve pain
  • to reduce swelling
  • to treat ringworm

Frankincense may be effective in reducing pain associated with osteoarthritis. There is insufficient evidence to demonstrate that frankincense is effective for any other use.

Your health care provider may have recommended this product for other conditions. Contact a health care provider if you have any questions.

What else should I be aware of?

When applied on the skin, frankincense is well-tolerated, however, it may cause mild skin irritation. When used orally, frankincense may cause upset stomach, diarrhea, nausea, itching, or headache. In large amounts when taken orally frankincense can cause a blockage in the stomach.

Frankincense may interact with immunosuppressants. It may also reduce the activity of various liver enzymes, increasing the levels of certain medications that are normally broken down by the liver.

Consult a doctor prior to using frankincense if you have digestive disorders. Check with a health care provider before giving frankincense to children.

Do not use frankincense while pregnant or breast-feeding, or if you are allergic to frankincense, Boswellia trees, or any plant from the Burseraceae family.

Before taking any new medications, including natural health products, speak to your physician, pharmacist, or other health care provider. Tell your health care provider about any natural health products you may be taking.

  1. Health Canada.  Licensed Natural Health Products Database.  Frankincense —Oral.  
  2. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Frankincense.  
  3. Health Canada.  Licensed Natural Health Products Database.  Frankincense — Buccal.
  4. Health Canada.  Licensed Natural Health Products Database.  Frankincense — Topical.

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