Frankincense is One of Our Favorite Oils! Boswellia Sacra, Carteri and Seratta: The Science and Scents.

But before we get into the details of each Frankincense species and distillations, we have a special going on…Our Free ‘Frankincense Sampler’:

Frankincense Essential Oil Sampler

Receive 2ml of each of these amazing Frankincense oils for free with any order over $108 this week! You'll qualify for free shipping, too!

Would you like to experience these incredible Frankincense essential oils yourself? This week only, with any order over $108, you’ll receive FREE 2ml each of Boswellia carteri CO2 from Ethiopia, Boswellia seratta CO2 from India, and Boswellia sacra (Sacred Frankincense, hydro-distilled) from Oman. These are our owner’s three favorite Frankincense varieties of all time. Yes, they’re that good. Just mention “frankincense-sampler” in the comments section of the checkout page and we’ll include them with your order today. See more on our Sales and Specials page.

…And on to the Science and the Scents of Frankincense!

With Frankincense from three Boswellia tree species, and two distillation methods, which one do you choose? Boswellia Sacra, Boswellia Carteri or Boswellia Seratta? Hydro, or Supercritical CO2 distilled? What are the differences and similarities?  Well, here’s the scoop!

Frankincense Tree

A Boswellia tree, source of Frankincense resin which is distilled into the essential oil.

‘Frankincense’ itself is the dried resin or ‘sap’ from one of several species of Boswellia trees: Boswellia Sacra, Boswellia Carteri and Seratta (there are others, though these make up the vast majority of the world’s trade of Frankincense). When the resin is dried, it forms drops called ‘tears’.

The essential oil, no matter the method used, is distilled from these tears. One can imagine a giant vat of Frankincense, which is ‘washed’ in a ‘solvent’.

How is Frankincense Distilled?

  • Steam distillation: Steam is passed through the tears from below, captured and cooled back to (liquid) water. The essential oil floats on top of this water (this water is actually a ‘hydrosol’)…the oil and water are separated by draining the water from below.

    This is the highest-temperature method of distilling Frankincense oil, producing the ‘highest-noted’ aroma. The molecular ‘spectrum’ contains the smallest aromatic molecules of the distillation methods. One of our Boswellia carteri varieties is steam distilled, and is represented in our steam distilled Frankincense.

  • Hydro-distillation: This is similar to the most common method of essential oil production, steam distillation, in that water is used as the ‘solvent’ to extract the essential oil – however, because the Frankincense is ‘boiled’ rather than ‘steamed’, the distillation happens at no higher than 212 degrees Fahrenheit.

    This lower-temperature process creates an essential oil with a broad spectrum of molecular constituents, and more middle notes than high, than steam distillation for this particular plant material. This process is used for our Sacred Frankincense.

  • CO2 distillation: Rather than using steam or water as the ‘solvent’, pressurized carbon dioxide is made liquid and passed through the Frankincense resin. When the pressure is released, the CO2 turns to gas and is released. This is a totally ‘clean’ process, which is certified organic.

    The CO2 oils contain the highest amount of middle and lower notes, and hence the greatest amount of larger molecules that are found in Frankincense resin itself. Our Frankincense Cateri and Seratta oils are available using this distillation process.

Frankincense Resin

Dried Frankincense Resin - Source of the Amazing Essential Oils

Depending on the source of the Frankincense resin, which is all wild grown and ethically-harvested (leaving the trees unharmed), the aroma of the final oil is different. The Carteri has a lovely citrus-woody aroma. The Seratta has deep, smokey notes not found in other Frankincense varieties. The Sacra has incredible brilliance, with a rich aroma of sweet high notes and complex middle tones.

The Science of Frankincense

Each of these oils has been successfully scientifically investigated for its anti-cancer properties. To see this research, go to and search ‘Frankincense and Cancer’ You will find pages of research publications noting the anti-caner actions in each and every cell line for which it has been tested: Blood, brain, breast, bladder, prostate and more.

In many of this research, Frankincense oils and extracts have shown to induce natural cell death in cancer cells, at concentrations which have left healthy cells unaffected.

So, the research notes it does not matter which Frankincense one uses for this purpose, as they all show the same anti-cancer action.

Which Frankincense is Best for You?

We believe it best to choose the Frankincense oil which has an aroma which you most appreciate. Frankincense is considered THE immune-system modulator, assisting the immune system in whatever way it needs. Further, Frankincense is used for its anti-anxiety properties, and in topical formulas for inflammation reduction.

So really, ANY of the Frankincense oils at Ananda will do what you’d like it to – experience the one you enjoy most!

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