From ancient Egyptian rituals to your personal essential oil diffuser, frankincense has played a role in many cultures for upwards of 5,000 years. It’s commonly used in religious ceremonies and has been an important part of traditional Eastern medicine for some time.
Frankincense essential oil—also known as olibunam—comes from a resin extracted from Boswellia trees, primarily Boswellia sacra. It’s commonly used in incense and perfumes, and it’s available in its pure form as an essential oil.1
Interest in this extract is growing not only because of its wonderful scent and rich tradition but also because of the nootropic benefits this essential oil has demonstrated.
Research suggests that frankincense may help promote a calm mood, enhance feelings of well-being, and even strengthen learning and memory.2 Many of these benefits are attributed to the anti-inflammatory activity that this essential oil demonstrates.
Nootropic Effects of Frankincense Essential Oil
Highlighted below is an overview of the effects of frankincense on mood and cognition.
The warm, calming scent of frankincense essential oil can help calm the mind and provide relief from mental stressors.3 Because of these properties, frankincense been used in Eastern traditional medicine for thousands of years.
Enhances Mood and Feelings of Well-Being
Many individuals suffer from intermittent or consistent difficulties with negative emotions and mood troubles. One way to enhance mood is to boost the effectiveness of certain neurotransmitters in the body, particularly serotonin, which is linked to having a positive mood.
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As some essential oils have demonstrated the ability to increase the release of this neurotransmitter, researchers are examining the effects of different essential oils on mood.5
In one clinical study, Boswellia mixed with two other essential oils was able to boost mood and relieve symptoms of anxiety.6 While more human studies are required before researchers can determine the full effects of frankincense essential oil on mood in humans, some people speculate that one reason for the widespread use of frankincense in religious ceremonies has to do with its mood-boosting ability to contribute to the spiritual excitement associated with these events.7
Pain can reduce the quality of life, make sleeping more difficult, and cause anxiety and stress. All of these can hinder performance at work and day-to-day life. If you suffer from a condition that causes pain, anything that can help relieve it may also help you to perform at your best.
In traditional Chinese medicine, frankincense has been used to relieve pain, particularly pain linked to inflammatory conditions. Today, human and animal studies support this use.
By blocking the synthesis of leukotrienes—chemicals produced in the body that cause inflammation through free radical damage— frankincense is believed to help with the pain caused by inflammatory conditions.8
Boosts Sleep Quality
Recent studies have confirmed the calming and sedative effects of frankincense essential oil. One possible explanation for this function has to do with the anti-inflammatory, anxiolytic, and mood-boosting effects of this essential oil. When individuals have fewer aches and pains, combined with less stress, it tends to be easier to get a good night’s rest.9
Improves Memory and Learning Abilities
If you’re looking for an extra memory boost, research suggests that frankincense essential oil may be just what you need. Multiple studies have found increased learning abilities with frankincense linked to strengthened short-term and long-term memory.
In a human clinical trial, Boswellia capsules were found to improve visuospatial memory in patients with multiple sclerosis, demonstrating an effect on vision and memory in humans.10
With thousands of years of traditional use in religious ceremonies and herbal medicine, it is not too surprising that researchers have determined that frankincense essential oil provides such a wide range of physical and cognitive benefits. These benefits have led many to consider frankincense essential oil one of the nootropic essential oils worth adding to your daily routine. An easy way to add it is with MONQ’s Zen personal essential oil diffuser for an on the go use.
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