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 Flueck. (Burseraceae)

How is this product usually used?

The bark resin is used to make medicine. It may be taken orallyorallyto be taken by mouth (swallowed), applied topicallytopicallyto be applied on the skin, or inhaled. When taken orally, the adult dose of frankincense ranges from 3 g to 8 g of the dry gum resin per day.

Traditional literature suggests frying the resin before taking it.

What is this product used for?

Frankincense taken orallyorallyto be taken by mouth (swallowed) has been used:

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.

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?

Frankincense may cause mild skin irritation when applied topicallytopicallyto be applied on the skin. When used orallyorallyto be taken by mouth (swallowed), frankincense may cause upset stomach, diarrhea, drowsiness, or liver damage.

Frankincense may interact with some medications including antibiotics (e.g., amoxicillin), antifungal medications (e.g., fluconazole), arthritis medications (e.g., methotrexate), medications to treat cancer (e.g., cisplatin), certain asthma medications (e.g., montelukast), or medications to lower cholesterol (e.g., rosuvastatin).

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.

Talk to your health care provider before using frankincense if you have liver damage or poor liver function, lung disease, autoimmune diseases, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Check with a health care provider before giving frankincense to children.

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—draft. (Accessed June 06, 2014)
  2. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Frankincense. (Accessed June 06, 2014)
  3. Natural Standard-the Authority on Integrative Medicine. Frankincense. (Accessed June 06, 2014)

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