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Holy Incense, Frankincense, Boswellia, Shallaki, Olibanum – the ancient, the new, and the homeopathic!

Frankincense is a resin of greatest antiquity, and was, through the ages, at times valued higher than pure gold [1, 3]. Collected from the Boswellia tree, a burseraceae, domiciled mainly in India, Africa and the Middle East [2], its initial use was as an incense for fumigation. The custom of burning Holy Incense is one that today still is practised throughout the oriental countries [1], and traditionally in the churches of Christianity [3]. The purpose of this, has and had the intent of clearing and de-toxifying the air [3], and of replenishing the soul [2].


Yet, Frankincense was also known for its medicinal properties. It was first mentioned in the ‘Papyrus Ebers’, an ancient Egyptian textbook for the medically practising, dated at ca. 1600 B.C.. and was the most extensively mentioned and most frequently recommended medicine in the ‘Corpus hippocraticum’. Many of our medical forefathers, Hippocrates, Galenus, Dioskurides and Avicenna, to mention a few, are known to have prescribed Holy Incense for diverse ailments [3]. In the oriental countries, it was commonly used in the treatment of inflammatory rheumatic conditions, and in the treatment of lesions and affections of the skin [2]. In Europe too, there was a traditional use of Holy Incense as a medically potent curative. It was traditionally used for ailments of the respiratory tract, the skin, the gastro-intestinal tract and for inflamed joints [2].

The Ayurveda has a documented medicinal use of Frankincense that is over 3000 years old. Inflammatory ailments of the joints, like rheumatoid arthritis, chronic poly-arthritis, and gout, are treated with Boswellia [2, 4]. The bowels, the skin, and neural affections are equally as susceptible to the curative actions of Shallaki [2].

While not all active ingredients and principles of Olibanum are known, its therapeutic value is, today, increasingly being confirmed by research and experience in practice. Studies have confirmed the ability of Frankincense to inhibit inflammation and allergic reactions, to alleviate from pain, and to reduce swelling [2]. In rheumatism it has been documented that Shallaki has reduced swelling and joint-stiffness in 65% of people. In inflammatory affections of the gastro-intestinal tract it alleviates from the symptoms commonly concomitant to colitis and Crohn’s disease. In chronic asthma it supports recovery, and in brain-tumours Boswellia has been reported to inhibit the growth of tumours [2].

The homeopathic appraisal of ‘Olibanum sacrum’, has revealed main themes of the remedy. Yearning, was as such, one of the main symptoms prevalent in the proving. Intellect, clarity and awareness, security and a sense of belonging were other central elements [3]. Key-notes were calmness, peace of mind [3], distinct power of concentration, clearness of mind, increased perceptivity, but also indifference and mental irritability [1]. Emotional features were happiness, blissfulness, yearning and love. Furthermore there was hopelessness, restlessness, euphoria, exuberance and speculation. The need for trust and directness, truthfulness and authenticity were also prevalent [1]. Physical symptoms included swelling, pain, stiffness in all joints, extreme fatigue and yawning. Skin symptoms were characterized by sensitivity, itchiness, eczema and dryness. There was coldness and shivering, but also sweating and extreme warmth [1].

Whether called Holy Incense, Frankincense, Boswellia, Shallaki, or Olibanum it is clearly one of the oldest medicinally prescribed substances, and has provided us with a potent curative for diverse diseases and ailments, both in terms of its herbal application, and in its homeopathic derivation. It is one of the valuable ancient curatives that has withstood the tests of time, and has been unearthed without ever really being lost, from the depth of the history of humanity.




[1] Wachsmuth, C. & J.. 2002. Olibanum sacrum, Heiliger Weihrauch. 2. Internationaler Coethener Erfahrungsaustausch-Wissenschaftliche Homöopathie in Europa [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.wisshom.de/index.php?menuid=73&downl…. [Accessed 30 August 15].

[2] Oppermann, J.. 2003. Weihrauch – Ein altes heilmittel neu entdeckt. Bielefeld: LebensBaum Verlag.

[3] Keim, U.. 2008. Olibanum sacrum – Eine Arzneimittelprüfung – IGHH. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.homotox.de/cms/iwebs/download.aspx?id=34575. [Accessed 30 August 15].

[4] Behnke, K-H. 2002. Rezepturen und Heilpflanzen der ayurvedischen Medizin. Stuttgart: Sonntag Verlag.