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 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

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I originally made this oil over two years ago as a cough/cold and decongestant chest rub, but experience has taught me it has other unexpected and powerful effects on our bodies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

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.

Frankincense-Boswellia Papyrifera


Until recently, in our North American market, there was little choice as far as the type of Frankincense resin or essential oil one could buy. Religious, occult, and “new age” stores, aromatherapy and natural perfume shops offered only Frankincense Sacra or Carterii. (These 2 types are often synonymous with each other and whether they are the same or different species is still a popular topic for researchers and other experts in the field). As recent as the last decade or so there has there been an increase in the types of Frankincense one could easily acquire here. I assume this is in part to the increase in interest in aromatherapy and natural perfumes, the “Global Village” phenomenon and the integration and growth of African, Asian and Mediterranean communities in North America.


Frankincense (Photo credit: Wikipedia). Likely Boswellia Sacra/Carterii.

Though the Boswellia family contains over 20 different species of Frankincense, there are only 6 or 7 types that are readily available commercially.


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

A visual comparison of 5 types of Frankincense-Boswellia

Frankincense has been a valuable commodity and a very important part of our global cultures, religions and trade for thousands of years, highly valued for its medicinal ceremonial and esthetic uses, it is only recently that the different types of Frankincense have been examined closely and their unique chemical compositions studied. Until a short time ago there had been much confusion as to which chemical compounds were attributed to the individual species of Frankincense. Samples purchased from merchants for study were not directly taken from identified trees, and some research results were associated with the wrong species. This has been corrected and now one can look back on earlier valuable research and with an understanding of the proper chemical markers associated with each species, identify the correct oleo-resin on which the studies were based.


” Although the gum resin of B. Papyrifera coming from Ethiopia, Sudan and E. Africa is believed to be the main source of frankincense of antiquity (Tucker, 1986), there was until recently a great deal of confusion in the literature regarding the chemical analysis of its resin as well as of the essential oil derived from it by steam or hydro distillation. This was mainly due to the fact that analyses were done on commercial samples without establishing the proper botanical identity of the true source of the resin.”, on Boswellia Papyrifera,


Boswellia Papyrifera, Frankincense Tigray type

Boswellia Papyrifera, Frankincense Tigray type
Ethiopia 2013

Some sound and exiting research studies conducted over the past few decades had reached the right conclusions, but for the wrong trees and oleo-resins, which compounded the confusion. Now that correct chemical markers are assigned to the different species of Frankincense, we find among other critical identifying markers, that Boswellia Papyrifera has the unique chemical markers Incensole and Incensole Acetate that distinguish it from the other types of Frankincense.

Frankincense Boswellia Serrata is well known in India for its healing medicinal properties in Ayurvedic medicine. Boswellia Serrata resin extract shows great promise in the treatment of inflammatory diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and asthma. Among other characteristic chemicals it contains Boswellic acid which has been linked to anti-tumour and anti-cancer activity. I hope to elaborate on the chemical composition and medicinal applications of Boswellia Serrata in a future post.


 Indian frankincense  Boswellia Serrata


Boswellia Frereana is another unique type of Frankincense now more readily available commercially in North American markets. It grows mostly in Somalia, Yemen and Kenya and is widely used locally for ritual and medicine. In Somalia it is called “Meydi” and is burned daily in the home after meals and used to odorize ones clothing. It is sometimes called “Yemenite Chewing Gum”. Boswellia Frereana is composed mostly of resins and essential oils and contains very little water-soluble gum, this makes it especially suited to the purpose of chewing gum, because the resin and oils are not water soluble it does not dissolve or break down in the mouth, it softens when chewed, and can be masticated for long periods of time, cleaning teeth, massaging gums and freshening the breath with its essential oils. Its unusually low gum content, relative to other types of Frankincense can be seen in this chart of solubility courtesy of Ariti Herbal in Addis Ababa. Another way this high ratio of oleo-resins to gums can be verified is noting the way Frankincense Frereana melts and is absorbed into a hot incense charcoal, leaving nearly no carbon residue and emitting very little of the traditional burnt odor other types of Frankincense do. This charred remnant is a result of the water soluble gums burning and some historic references cite this charred portion of Frankincense as an ingredient in traditional middle eastern Kohl, eye liner, along with Antimony and other ingredients.


Boswellia, Frankincense Frereana. Called Yeminite chewing gum.

Containing almost no water-soluble gum, Frankincense Frereana does not dissolve when masticated, for this reason is used as an all natural chewing gum. It is composed mainly of resin and essential oils.

Ethiopia is home to three commercially important types of Frankincense, none of which had been easily available in North America till recently. Boswellia Papyrifera, or Tigray type from the north, Boswellia Rivae also called the Ogaden type from the south east Ogaden area and Boswellia Neglecta from the Borena area of Ethiopia. All are used locally and are commercially important resources. Their wood is used for fuel, construction and furniture, the bark for incense and medicine and the oleo-resins are used among other things, to produce bases for varnishes and adhesives, essential oils, absolutes for perfume, and as incense and medicine. Boswellia Papyrifera is by far the most extensively used oleo-resin locally and abroad. It is used in Ethiopian households daily as incense and in their traditional coffee ceremonies, it is the choice incense of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and is also used locally as an insect repellent and for medicine. It has been the Frankincense of choice by Churches and religious institutions all over the world for hundreds if not thousands of years. Both Boswellia Rivae and Boswellia Neglecta deserve their own segment here, so I will leave their detailed descriptions for another day and focus on Boswellia Papyrifera .


Boswellia Papyrifera is distinguished from other types of Frankincense by the presence of large amounts of Octyl Acetate and Octanol and two other unusual and unique chemical markers, Incensole and Incensole Acetate. Studies have shown that Incensole Acetate affects our central nervous system and posesses psychoactive properties. According to studies, Incensole Acetate can generate heightened feelings of well being and spirituality, reduce feelings of anxiety and depression and improve memory function. Other research has indicated that Incensole Acetate shows neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory properties and indicates it may be of use in cases of stroke and head trauma. It is presumed that Incensole and Incensole Acetate are absorbed by the body through the smoke released during the burning of Frankincense as an incense. One can see how this might be an ideal incense for spiritual/religious purposes in churches and temples.


The discovery of Incensole and Incensole Acetate as identifying chemical markers of Boswellia Papyrifera goes a long way to bolster the theory that Frankincense Papyrifera is indeed the true Olibanum and “Frank”(True) Incense of ancient times and scripture. Employing an incense that has psychoactive properties and elicits altered states of mind during ritual and ceremony, would make this incense a very valuable commodity to churches and other religious establishments, and would require a special knowledge to discern between regular non psychoactive incense and the true, or Frank-incense. This would be a valuable skill when one purchased such an exotic and expensive imported item for church use. Oleo resins such as Frankincense and Myrrh were at times worth their weight in gold, they were hard to come by, growing only in Ethiopia they would travel by caravan, ship, boat, donkey, horse or camel, or all the above often for many months. They would exchange hands many times before they reached their final destination which could often be thousands of miles away. One can safely assume, because of their value and scarcity in most parts of the world, they would run a real risk of being adulterated or replaced along the way with other less expensive materials for the profit of those that traded in such items. This would lend even more weight to the need to be able to identify the “true” incense from other types. The Frank-incense.


Boswellia Rivae, has a distinct haunting, rich and deep fragrance. The resin stands out in its aroma, fresh, as well as when burned as incense. The essential oil is a sweet, compelling, mysterious and complex mix that brings to mind mystery, magic and ancient sacred places. It has a surprising sweet note reminiscent of Palo Santo, unexpected in a Frankincense essential oil.
Frankincense. Boswellia Rivae
Frankincense. Boswellia Rivae
Boswellia Neglecta; Is another unusual Frankincense from Ethiopia. It is a delight burned as an incense, grounding and elevating. It has a pine like component which nicely rounds out an incense or Bakhoor mix. The essential oil of Frankincense Neglecta is also grounding, earthy & sweet. More stimulating than relaxing. The essential oil and oleo-resin have a boldness that makes them quite a different experience than the Boswellia Sacra/Carterii we have gotten used too.