We’ve all heard of Frankincense oil, right? As kids our Sunday school teachers taught - if we were listening - that Frankincense was one of the several gifts the magi (a.k.a. astrologers) took to the royal baby Jesus.
“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. ~ Matthew 2:11
On the surface those seem like strange gifts for a child. I mean, why not a rocking horse? We’ll explore the significance of the costly gifts later. First, why don’t we get a quick overview of this valuable oil then discover why Frankincense might be of interest to someone with breast cancer, or practically any cancer for that matter. Capice?
Straight from Wikipedia, Frankincense is an aromatic resin used in incense and perfumes, obtained from trees of the genus Boswellia, which thrive in arid, cool areas of the Arabian Peninsula, East Africa and India. The finest and most aromatic of this species is Boswellia sacra, a small tree that grows in Somalia, Oman and Yemen.
Workers painstakingly harvest the Frankincense by hand. First they scrape the bark of the tree with a small axe, which releases a liquid that hardens once exposed to air. The resin crystallizes over a week-long period, then workers return to remove the resin from the bark, which is then pulverized into powder, placed in an oil bath, and steam distilled. This process can only be done twice a year making Frankincense worth its weight in gold, or in palladium (have you seen the cost of that lately?)
The word Frankincense derives from Old French "franc encens" which means high quality incense. If you’re ever on Jeopardy and the topic of Frankincense arises you’ll be thankful you read this post.
NOW…the moment we’ve all been waiting for. How could Frankincense benefit breast cancer patients?
Surprisingly, the medical community has conducted research on the use of Frankincense oil in cultured human breast cancer cells. One study in 2011, which you can read HERE if you’re unopposed to extensive medical jargon, discovered that essential oil originating from the Boswellia sacra induces breast cancer cell-specific cytotoxicity, that’s to say the oil is toxic to cancer cells. Researchers concluded that oil from the Boswellia sacra may be effective in fighting advanced breast cancer. A similar study in 2009 suggested that Frankincense oil injected into the bladder could kill bladder cancer cells (don’t try that at home).
According to Healthline.com, Frankincense oil has been linked to treatments for ovarian, breast, and skin cancers. It explains that findings from a study conducted two years ago “suggest that breast cancer cells may stop growing and die off when exposed to frankincense oil.” The brief post also states that studies are generally done in vitro, or on cells in a laboratory. No studies have been conducted on people living with cancer, but that’s probably about to change.
An article I found on the website Eureka Alert reveals cancer surgeon and researcher Nancy DeMore is currently leading a clinical trial at the Medical University of South Carolina using Frankincense to try to treat breast and colon cancer. DeMore, who has done extensive research on new treatments for breast cancer says, "A lot of herbs and alternative therapies haven't been studied scientifically, so it's really important to know, in a well-designed clinical trial, these natural products work." DeMore started her research into natural products with curcumin in the 1990s. Curcumin, a component of the spice turmeric, discourages blood vessel growth in tumors. According to the article slowing the growth of new blood vessels in tumors is a common approach to treating many cancers.
This all sounds promising.
You don’t have to wait for results from those in white lab coats who are studying the effectiveness of Frankincense oil in the war against cancer to reap some of its other known benefits. Frankincense relieves stress, heals wounds, tightens wrinkles, reduces the appearance of scars and is a natural anti-septic good for wiping out infections. Dr. Josh Axe, who is a certified doctor of natural medicine, has a great list of FO (can I just refer to Frankincense oil as FO from here on out?) benefits that you can access HERE. It’s an amazing essential oil to keep handy.
Do a quick search and you’ll find a gazillion testimonials all over the web from people who claim FO miraculously healed neuropathy, the flu, anxiety, skin conditions, and more. I have my own testimony. I had some strange crusty lesion on my forehead for months (I know, I should have gone to the dermatologist) and after a week of applying FO on cleansed skin at night, it vanished. It’s best to combine a few drops of an essential oil with a carrier oil, especially until you know if you have a sensitivity to it or not, but I admit I didn’t do that. You know the old adage, do as I say, not as I do!
You can diffuse FO, inhale it, apply it topically and some even ingest it. But most aromatherapists discourage doing that because it can be unsafe. So don't, unless someone with better attorneys than I have tells you it's o.k.
If you want to know more about essential oils, an excellent resource is The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy by Valerie Ann Worwood. It’s the essential oils bible.
And speaking of bible…So why the gifts of gold, Frankincense and Myrrh found in thee Bible?
Many scholars tell us that those valuable items would have been standard gifts to honor a king. Guessing that’s true. From a practical standpoint, I believe it was God’s way of financially providing for Joseph, Mary and Jesus when they fled to Egypt. Who knows how difficult it was for Joseph to begin working again as a carpenter in a foreign land? Plus, he probably had to buy more tools, build another house, more furniture, etc… Can we say ch-ching?
And lastly, from a spiritual perspective, perhaps the gifts pointed to Christ as Prophet, Priest and King. Gold, desired by kings for centuries, represented Christ as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Frankincense, burned by priests on an altar during worship, pointed to Christ as our Chief Priest and ultimate sacrifice. And Myrrh, an expensive spice that was used in burials because of its fragrant properties, pointed to Jesus as Prophet, for He knew He came to earth to die.
Not sure if the magi – even though they were wise - would have made those connections as they selected the gifts for the infant Savior. But I believe God, who inspired the wise men to follow Bethlehem’s star, divinely influenced them to give the very best and most well-suited gifts to Jesus.
Suddenly, a rocking horse doesn’t sound all that grand.
[Chime In: What are some of your favorite EOs and why/how do you use them?]
Funny that the title "Author" appears above this description yet I have no idea what to share about myself in this space! How about my first name is Kim. My last name is Tisor. Tisor rhymes with miser, though I try not to be one.
For more information about me, please visit the author page.