What are Frankincense and Myrrh?

What are Frankincense and Myrrh?

Frankincense and Myrrh are saps that are extracted from trees. Frankincense is predominantly burned as an incense, while Myrrh is more commonly used in medicines and perfumes – but both are known for their enticing fragrances.

Frankincense is extracted from Boswellia trees found in the Arabian Peninsula, East Africa, and India.

There are five main species of Boswellia, but the species that produces the most aromatic frankincense is Boswellia sacra. The Boswellia trees are typically small and can be found with multiple trunks. They’re typically covered in papery bark that is easy to remove. They’re also distinguished by the sparse number of paired leaves and small yellowish-white flowers.

Myrrh can be extracted from thorny tree species known as Commiphora myrrha – a small, spiny tree found in Ethiopia, Oman, Kenya, Somalia and Saudi Arabia.

How are they extracted?

Frankincense and Myrrh are extracted in similar ways.

To harvest Frankincense, the sap from a Boswellia tree is tapped from trees by making long incisions down the trunk of the tree. The milky-white resin then bleeds out and hardens into streaks called tears. The trees can be tapped two or three times a year.

To obtain Myrrh, the sap from Commiphora is collected in a similar method. The tree is repeatedly wounded so that it seeps through the bark and into the sapwood. The reddish-orange resin bleeds from these wounds and hardens, ready to be collected.

What are they used for?

Historically, frankincense and myrrh were used for their scent, medicinal purposes like treating wounds and religious symbolism.

Today, frankincense and myrrh are still commonly used in cosmetics and medicines but also play a significant role in modern aromatherapy as an alternative treatment for anxiety and depression.

Benefits of Frankincense:

Frankincense has many benefits that go far beyond just being a pleasant fragrance. Some of these benefits include:

  • Frankincense has anti-inflammatory properties evidenced in clinical trials – helping to reduce joint inflammation caused by osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. However, further studies are needed to confirm these effects.
  • Frankincense’s anti-inflammatory properties may also help maintain proper gut function. The resin shows signs of reducing symptoms of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
  • Frankincense may reduce the likelihood of asthma attacks and its symptoms like shortness of breath and wheezing associated with respiratory conditions.
  • Frankincense extract or powder contains boswellic acid, which may help combat gum disease and prevent bad breath, toothaches, cavities and mouth sores.
  • Test-tube studies suggest it may also slow the spreading of some cancer cells, including breast, prostate, pancreatic, skin and colon cancer cells. One study suggests it may also help reduce some of the side effects of cancer.

Benefits of Myrrh:

Myrrh also boasts a range of health and cosmetic benefits, including:

  • Research suggests Myrrh is a powerful antioxidant – vital for healthy cell function. It may also decrease the risk of developing certain cancers.
  • Some studies have found that myrrh promotes skin health, is effective at healing sores and inhibits the growth of microbes in open wounds.
  • Myrrh is proven effective at combatting pain and swelling. It binds to opioid receptors in the brain and reduces pain, while also offering the added benefit of calming inflammation.

Enhancing aromatherapy

Lifestyle Packaging continues to develop a range of aromatherapy packaging products designed to keep essential oils and medicines safe and secure – retaining their effectiveness on store shelves and in the home to give consumers the results they expect.

View our range of aromatherapy packaging – including dropper bottles and pipettes for essential oils – or chat with the Lifestyle Packaging expert team to discover how we can work with you to develop bespoke packaging solutions for your products. 

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