Anxiety

Boswellia Serrata-India

Make a Frankincense resin oil with Boswellic acids

As promised, here is the method I use for making a medicated oil from an extract of frankincense resin. Since writing the post on extracting Frankincense resin and Boswellic acids with water, a number of people have contacted me expressing difficulty dissolving the resin extract homogeneously in a vegetable oil. It is very important to follow the steps in the order they are laid out below.

This method also works well when making a medicated oil using our local northern Pine, Spruce and Fir oleoresins which offer us an equally broad range of largely untapped,  :-),  therapeutic compounds.

An extract of Frankincense in oil

Frankincense has a long and growing list of therapeutic applications. Coupled with ongoing research and investigation of new and promising compounds such as the Boswellic acids, Incensole and Incensole acetate, this list will likely continue growing into the foreseeable future.

A medicated oil, in this case, a solution of the extract of Frankincense oleoresin dissolved in a vegetable oil, makes an excellent vehicle for Frankincense’s most valuable therapeutic compounds. It has some advantages over a powdered extract and an alcoholic tincture because it can be applied topically directly to the skin and is easily incorporated into salves and cremes.

Though it can be taken internally and is readily digested and assimilated, taking powdered Frankincense is likely a better way to get all the therapeutic compounds into our bodies. I personally take 1/2 to 1 level teaspoon of powdered Frankincense 3-5 times a day, washed down with water when I feel the need. I use an oil extract/infusion of Frankincense forexternal applications only.

Boswellia Serrata-India

Frankincense-Boswellia Serrata-India-Olibanum

In Ayurveda, the traditional Indian medical system, Frankincense Serrata has been used in formulas for hundreds of years to address a wide range of diseases and health issues. Though not as well documented, Frankincense also has a long history of traditional use in Africa, the Arabian peninsula, Asia and is a staple of TCM, or Traditional Chinese Medicine where it is referred to as “Ru Xiang”.

A short list of the main known uses for Frankincense would include, but is not limited to the treatment of-

Arthritis, Osteo and Rheumatoid arthritis, Asthma, coughs, colds and congestion, inflammation of joints, inflammation of the bowels, ulcerative colitis, peptic ulcers and Crohn’s disease, inflammations, irritations and infections of the urinary tract, halitosis, and oral issues. Frankincense is a traditional ingredient in beauty products, skin, face and eye cremes, helps moisturize the skin, is believed to increase its elasticity and promote a more a youthful look.

Frankincense is also used traditionally to increase memory and brain function, raise the spirits, reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, as an aphrodisiac, to restore sexual vitality, increase sperm count and address fertility issues. Lately, it has become popular in the west as a “Home remedy” for age spots, skin tags, moles and is thought to help in the treatment of various types of skin cancer.

A medicated oil of Frankincense oleo-resin

An  warm oil infusion of Frankincense Neglecta oleo-resin

Frankincense is anti-inflammatory, its Boswellic acids are considered NSAIDS or Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs, showing promise in the treatment of many chronic inflammatory conditions without the side effects associated with steroids.

Recent research has shown great promise in the laboratory for the use of Frankincense and Boswellic acids in selectively killing cancer cells while leaving healthy cells intact and generating no substantial side effects. Some cancers that Frankincense shows effectiveness combating include ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, bladder, liver, colon cancer and  leukemia, while other studies have shown its effectiveness in reducing the size of brain tumors, reducing swelling and inflammations of the brain due to trauma or stroke. It is important to keep in mind that many of these studies are still in-vitro preliminary studies in the laboratory and not clinical trials tested on humans. See the link at bottom of this post for some  research and references to the therapeutic effects of Boswellic acids.

Separation of Frankincense Papyrifera into its 3 components

Separation of Frankincense Papyrifera into its 3 components. Not presented here in their naturally occurring proportions are-resin dissolved in oil on the left, gum dissolved in water on the right and essential oil center stage.

Using Frankincense essential oil VS the whole oleoresin

The essential oil of Frankincense, as with most other oleoresins, only contains a small portion of the healing compounds the tree offers us. Though essential oils are very concentrated, they contain only the volatile compounds that evaporate at up to 100 degrees centigrade, the boiling point of water. All the heavier compounds which make up the Frankincense resin do not distil over with the essential oils except in trace amounts. This includes all the Boswellic acids and the much-studied AKBA or Acetyl-Keto-Boswellic-Acid. The essential oils make up from 1%-10% of the raw Frankincense oleo gum resin, the rest is composed of approximately 30% water-soluble gum and 60%+ resin, comprised mainly of Boswellic acids. To be perfectly clear, the essential oil of any type of Frankincense contains only a small portion of its healing properties and does not contain Boswellic acids in any substantial quantity.

The only way to utilize the Boswellic acids in our medicine is

  1. By using the whole raw oleo-gum-resin.
  2. Extracting the resin portion with solvents.
  3. Extracting/isolating the resin and essential oil by removing the water-soluble gum.

Though the water-soluble portion of Frankincense is used in traditional Arabian and Iranian medicine, and likely has its own important healing compounds, they are not yet as well known, well researched, popular or understood.

Water bath with multiple vessels and ingredients warming to the same temperature.

Water bath with multiple vessels and ingredients warming to the same temperature.

Preparing a therapeutic oil from Frankincense resin extract

In the preceding post, I shared instructions on how to use water to extract or isolate the resin/Boswellic acids and essential oil from Frankincense oleo gum resins. To date, the Boswellic acids have been confirmed in 3 of the 6 main types of Frankincense on the market. Boswellia Serrata from India, B. Papyrifera from Ethiopia, Eritrea and Sudan, and B. Sacra/Carterii from Somalia and Arabia.

Boswellia Sacra/Carterii resin extract beneath B. Papyrifera resin extrac

Solid at room temperature the resin portions of Boswellia Sacra/Carterii beneath that of B. Papyrifera do not distil over with the essential oils. This is the residence of  the Boswellic acids.

Here then are the best methods I have found, mainly through trial and error, to make a medicated oil from a Frankincense resin or oleo-resin extract.This solution of Frankincense oleoresin in oil can be used as it is or as a therapeutic component in a salve or creme.

  • Set up a water-bath with two containers/jars/vessels. (See the post-A solid moustache wax recipe)
  • In one jar place the extract of Frankincense resin, Note that the same process of dissolving oleoresins also works well dissolving Pine, Spruce and Fir oleoresins in oil since they have no water-soluble gum and can be dissolved in the warm oil straight from the tree. Frankincense Frereana from Somalia can also be dissolved as a raw oleoresin in the oil since it’s water soluble gum portion is usually minute and does not interfere in this process.
  • Using the oil of your choice, measure 5 to 10 times the weight of the resin extract you are using and place it in the second jar. I use extra virgin cold pressed olive oil and it works well for me. I have not tested the process with other oils except Jojoba which also dissolves the resin readily. A 1:2 ratio of resin extract to oil will give you a very thick solution, more difficult to work with. I personally prefer a 1:5 ratio of oil to resin extract and find it works well. One can use a ratio of up to 1:10 and still expect an effective medicine.
  • Bring the water in the bath to a boil.
  • The resin will start to soften and slump at about 60-70 degrees centigrade.
  • Wait till the resin gets as soft and as mobile as it’s going to get and let both jars reach and sit at their maximum temperature a few minutes. Occasional stirring helps disperse the warmer material and speed up the process. (Make sure the level of the hot bath water is a bit above the level of the oil and the resin in your jars to guarantee they are heated through evenly). You can use a digital thermometer to accurately measure their respective temperatures, or “eyeball it” and leave them in the hot water a little longer to assure they are evenly heated. Loosely covering the jars also seems to facilitate even heating of the materials.
  •  Pour or transfer a very small amount of the hot oil into the hot resin, (about a teaspoon to a tablespoon), and stir it into the resin till the resin is evenly diluted by the oil.  When it looks like the resin is thinner and more liquid and not clumping or layering with the oil, add a bit more oil to the resin, and stir as before till the resin is completely dissolved. If you are pouring the oil directly, make sure no water drips into the resin from the sides of the oil jar while you are pouring.
  • Repeat with increasing quantities of oil till you have added all your oil to the resin.
  •  When the oil and the Frankincense resin are homogeneously blended, pour the mix through a fine mesh filter into a clean jar or bottle. A fine metal mesh coffee filter above a funnel works well.
  • If you like you can add a little Vitamin E to preserve the oil from rancidity, but in my experience a high ratio of resin in a vegetable oil preserves it for quite a long time. Remember these oleoresins have been used for thousands of years to embalm, mummify and preserve bodies, some of which are still intact today..
  •  You will be left with a fairly homogenous solution. It will sediment a bit as vegetable oil does not completely dissolve all the components of the resin. I find this sedimentation does not interfere with any of the products I make with the oil. When making a salve or creme I stir it well and find it blends well with both.  To create a complete dissolution of resin, one must use harsher solvents which I like to avoid. A little sedimentation seems a small price to pay for a more natural product.
  • Please note-You will encounter difficulties if you do any of the following- 
  •  If you heat the oil and the resin in the same container,
  • If you don’t wait till they are close to 100 degrees centigrade and the same temperature,
  • If you pour all your oil in at the same time.
  • If you pour the resin into the oil.
  • Also-Never use a microwave for this process or heat the materials directly on the stovetop without a waterbath.

Your oil is now ready to use as-is or added to a compound product such as a salve or a creme, following any recipe you are used to or one of many from the internet.

Clarifying some terms.

In general, many of the terms used over the years to describe tree resins have been interchangeable and confusing. I am equallly guilty of perpetuating this. So- for the sake of clarity in this post I will add that-

  • All Frankincense and Myrrh types are in fact oleo-gum-resins because they all contain oleo or volatile oils, also called essential oils, they all contain resin, made up mostly of terpenes and resin acids. And they all contain water soluble gum, made up mainly of polysacharrides containing a bitter principle.

When we wash away the water soluble gum, we are left with the pure oleoresin, or resin and essential oil. This is now a true oleoresin. If we evaporate or otherwise remove the essential oils we will be left with a resin. Both resin and volatile oils are soluble in oils, the gum is soluble in water and is not soluble in oil.

Pine, Spruce and Fir trees bear true oleoresins because they contain only resin and volatile oils and no water-soluble gum.  For this reason they will dissolve readily into warm oils with no extra processing or extraction required.

Though they are sometimes called saps, these fragrant materials are produced by special ducts beneath the outer bark in response to injuries, and are not really the sap of the tree which collects and delivers nutrients throughout the tree and is accessed through tapping the tree deeply.

Here is a link with a good overview of Frankincense and Boswellic acids. Though this is only one study, it covers many of the therapeutic properties and applications of Boswellic acids and provides links to quite a few studies on the subject. It is written with regard to Boswellia Serrata, but it is equally applicable to both Boswellia Papyrifera and Boswellia Sacra/Carterii, since all three species have been proven to share similar chemistry and content of Boswellic acids and Incensole. Makes for an educational and informative read. Enjoy!

Frankincense (乳香 Rǔ Xiāng; Boswellia Species): From the Selection of Traditional Applications to the Novel Phytotherapy for the Prevention and Treatment of Serious Diseases

That’s about it.

Feel free to post any questions you have in the comment section below.

And remember to always take clear notes..

Your future self will thank you.

Dan

Frankincense Neglecta. Don't let appearances fool you.

Boswellia Neglecta- The surprising effects of an oleo infusion

I have not written anything specific for this blog in a long time, but focused my efforts on writing for Apothecarysgarden.com and re-posting here when the topic is oleoresins.

However, I am collating all the research I have collected over the years on Boswellia, Commiphora and other resin bearing trees, and hope to set up reference pages here in the very near future.

A visual comparison of 5 types of Frankincense-Boswellia- Papyrifera, Neglecta, Frereana, Rivae, Carterii/Sacra Apothecarysgarden.com

A visual comparison of 5 types of Frankincense-Boswellia

In the meantime, the copy I wrote for my Frankincense Neglecta infused oil or extract in the shop has some good content and should have more exposure, so I will share it here for those who’s interest lies in all facets of Frankincense.

Frankincense Neglecta oil for anxiety and stress.

Frankincense Neglecta heart and chest balm.

I originally made this oil over two years ago as a cough/cold and decongestant chest rub, but experience has taught me it has other unexpected and powerful effects on our bodies and minds. Though Frankincense Neglecta oil does work as a decongestant when rubbed on the chest, it has shown consistent and striking results when used to address the symptoms of anxiety, panic, heaviness and tightness of the chest due to stress. All this through external application of the oil.
   Like the Frankincense Sacra/Carterii we are accustomed to, Frankincense Neglecta from Ethiopia is historically used as incense, medicine and a source of fragrant essential oil for perfume and aromatherapy.
In common with the rest of the Frankincense family, Frankincense, or Boswellia Neglecta is ruled astrologically by the Sun and has a strong affinity with the heart and chest, physically, emotionally and on an energetic level. Like the Sun, all types of frankincense are warming, anti-inflammatory, expand and brighten the perspective, and promote heightened feelings of spirituality and wellbeing.

Frankincense Neglecta. Don't let appearances fool you.

Frankincense Neglecta. Don’t let appearances fool you.

Aromatically, B. Neglecta has the warm, sweet amber notes of Frankincense, and the uplifting bronchia dilating freshness of sweet Balsam Fir trees.

As the other Frankincense types, it helps calm the mind and is conducive to meditation, clarity of thought and spiritual pursuits. After more than a year of using an oil extract of this oleoresin and sharing it with friends and customers, I can say with certainty that for those who have used it as a chest rub, it has the following effects.

  • It dramatically reduces the feelings of anxiety and panic, the emotional distress, mental anguish and confusion and the physical knife-sharp pangs in the heart area one can experience with anxiety.
  • It eases the breath physically and emotionally, lifting feelings of heaviness and tightness from the chest.
  • Some, who suffer from Asthma, have found it alleviates the tightness, shortness of breath and the sense of panic that accompanies an asthma attack.
  • I find it brings a feeling of deep calm, to mind, body and heart, and supports a deep and restful sleep.

Will it have the same effect on everyone? So far the results are consistent, but further input is needed.

Fresh Frankincense oil extracted from Boswellia Neglecta.

Fresh Frankincense oil extracted from Boswellia Neglecta.

All these effects are experienced through rubbing this oil on the chest. A good half minute spent in this type of self-massage seems most effective. Whether this is due to a conscious act of self-care, or because the rubbing motion stimulates blood flow and carries the active phytochemicals more quickly through the body, or both, I can’t say. What I can say with certainty is that it works for me and those who have tried it. In my experience, within 5-20 minutes, it dramatically reduces the sharp chest pain that anxiety and emotional trauma can cause. I call it my heartbreak medicine.

I hypothesize the effect is caused by the action of Incensole and Incensole acetate carried through the bloodstream and crossing the blood-brain barrier. Research to date on the chemical composition of Boswellia Neglecta is conflicted. Some studies show it has no Incensole content, other studies show it has a very high content of these compounds. Further research and testing is needed. If it really does work consistently for the issues above, then it could be a very valuable medicine to many of us.

Since the chemical compounds in this oil seem to have such a direct effect on our physiology, we need to assume these chemicals may also interact with medication and other chemical compounds present in our bodies. There is a dearth of research on the Frankincense compounds, their effects on us and their interaction with other chemicals, I suggest using it with caution. Start small and see how you body feels about it. Ideally, if you are on medication, I suggest you work with a qualified alternative health care provider. Do not take it internally, there is no need since it works just fine applied externally.

This extract/infusion is produced using extra virgin cold pressed olive oil, whole fresh Frankincense Neglecta oleoresin from Ethiopia and Vitamin E. as a preservative. 1% distilled essential oil of Boswellia Neglecta is added after extraction to compensate for volatile oil evaporation during the process and nothing else.
It is an “Astrodynamic” preparation, processed in accordance with traditions and tenets of medical astrology and traditional Plant Alchemy. Ancient wisdom and methods of preparation that we are just starting to reclaim from our common cultural pasts.

I believe that each herb, if properly processed, should be expected to perform and excel on its own. These ancient techniques help each herb shine its brightest.

This is an extract of the whole oleoresin and not only the essential oil. The resin of these saps contain their own set of therapeutic phytochemicals which are lost during the distillation of their essential oils. I believe using the resin and essential oil in their naturally occurring proportions maintains a synergy, wholeness and efficacy we lose when we use only the isolated essential oils.

We have become shortsighted, assuming the essential oils of all plant products offer us the complete therapeutic spectrum of each plant. This is especially obvious when we  find the whole sap contains only a minute percent of volatile, or essential oils and a much greater proportion of phytochemicals and healing compounds in the resin portion. Even the water-soluble gum portion of many oleoresins has traditional healing applications, but has had much less investigative research directed to it.

If you would like to make your own extract/infusion of Frankincense Neglecta you will find a simple and easy recipe on my blog at http://apothecarysgarden.com/2013/10/09/frankincense-oil-cough-cold-chest-rub-recipe/

You will also find a supply of fresh, fair trade, co-op harvested Frankincense Neglecta and other Boswellia types for sale in the shop.

Whether you make your own or buy my special preparation, I believe Frankincense Neglecta is something many of us could benefit from.
.
Dan