Frankincense: A Powerful and Natural Ally Against Cancer

If frankincense only comes to mind during the Christmas holidays, then you’re missing out. While its use as one of the Magi gifts to Jesus was esteemed as much as gold and myrhh, the other treasures alleged to have been given by these Wise Men from the Orient, why was it honored as such? It might be worth investigating!

Frankincense has long been revered as a symbol of spiritual significance and healing, hailing from Arabia and parts of Africa. Over time it has also become increasingly significant as part of natural medicines and skincare routines. Is modern science finally recognizing its benefits? Researchers are discovering, among other things, its potential anti-cancer properties. And at a time when an average of 1 out of 2 of us develop cancer in our lifetime, this makes frankincense even more desirable.

Historically, frankincense was a significant part of both daily life and sacred ceremonies. Its smoke (incense) was often inhaled for spiritual purification and physical wellbeing – a practice which still occurs today across various cultures

Frankincense oil can be applied topically in diluted form to manage symptoms associated with cancer, such as inflammation and pain. This external application involves mixing it with a carrier oil such as coconut or almond, massaging onto your skin gently while offering both physical and psychological relief by providing calmness and stress reduction.

Frankincense offers many skincare benefits. It can soothe inflammation and irritated skin, and may even help in diminishing signs of aging. But perhaps its most significant contribution to health and wellbeing lies within cancer therapy: studies have highlighted its ability to target cancerous cells while sparing healthy ones, offering hope for non-toxic, non-invasive cancer therapies.

A study published in The Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology (2009) determined that not only has frankincense long been used in religious and cultural ceremonies dating back to the beginning of written history, its medicinal properties have been acknowledged for its ability to treat inflammation as well as cancerous diseases, wound healing, and for its important antimicrobial properties.

As we explore more deeply the abilities of this ancient remedy, it becomes apparent that its transformation from sacred offering to natural skincare and cancer treatments reveals its vast healing powers and longevity. By harnessing past wisdom, we open new pathways for wellness; making frankincense an invaluable gift in today’s society.

The Anti-Cancer Effect

This ancient remedy has made modern headlines due to its remarkable anti-cancer effects. Imagine a natural substance that can signal cancer cells to stop functioning, leading them to self-destruct while leaving healthy cells undamaged – this process, known as apoptosis, is key in combatting cancer and frankincense provides a gentler alternative than chemotherapy or radiation therapies, which kill cancerous cells but damage healthy tissue in addition. And there are other equally impressive qualities of this natural substance:

  • Frankincense contains compounds called boswellic acids which have strong anti-inflammatory effects. According to a study published by Seminars in Cancer Biology (2022), researchers discovered that Frankincense displayed “significant anti-inflammatory properties, effectively blocking multiple inflammation pathways” as well as providing relief from numerous inflammation-related ailments.
  • Tumors depend on nutrients delivered via blood vessels for growth and spread. Frankincense has been found to effectively stop this process known as angiogenesis – starving tumors by cutting off their source of nourishment. As reported in Seminars in Cancer Biology (2022), Frankincense “modifies signaling transduction responsible for cell cycle arrest, angiogenesis inhibition, invasion suppression, metastasis prevention.”
  • Frankincense can give a much needed boost to your immune system. When you’re fighting cancer or any other chronic disease, your best ally is a strong and robust immune response. Research published in Phytomedicine (2010) demonstrated how Boswellia serrata extracts and boswellic acids provided a means to reduce inflammation within the body, leading to promising results in treating chronic inflammatory diseases.

More research is called for in examining this and similar compounds. If you are interested in including frankincense as part of your personal cancer therapy, please consult with your healthcare provider to be sure it is suitable and safe for you.



Efferth T, Oesch F. Anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer activities of frankincense: Targets, treatments and toxicities. Semin Cancer Biol. 2022 May;80:39-57. doi: 10.1016/j.semcancer.2020.01.015. Epub 2020 Feb 4. PMID: 32027979.

Lu X, Mao J, Wang Y, Huang Y, Gu M. Water extract of frankincense and myrrh inhibits liver cancer progression and epithelial‑mesenchymal transition through Wnt/β‑catenin signaling. Mol Clin Oncol. 2023 Aug 18;19(4):77. doi: 10.3892/mco.2023.2673. PMID: 37719039; PMCID: PMC10502803.

Khajehdehi M, Khalaj-Kondori M, Baradaran B. Molecular evidences on anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and memory-boosting effects of frankincense. Phytother Res. 2022 Mar;36(3):1194-1215. doi: 10.1002/ptr.7399. Epub 2022 Feb 10. PMID: 35142408.

Ren P, Ren X, Cheng L, Xu L. Frankincense, pine needle and geranium essential oils suppress tumor progression through the regulation of the AMPK/mTOR pathway in breast cancer. Oncol Rep. 2018 Jan;39(1):129-137. doi: 10.3892/or.2017.6067. Epub 2017 Nov 1. PMID: 29115548; PMCID: PMC5783593.

Farahani MK, Bitaraf FS, Atashi A, Jabbarpour Z. Evaluation of anticancer effects of frankincense on breast cancer stem-like cells. Cancer Rep (Hoboken). 2023 Feb;6(2):e1693. doi: 10.1002/cnr2.1693. Epub 2022 Aug 8. PMID: 36806721; PMCID: PMC9939999.

Moussaieff A, Mechoulam R. Boswellia resin: from religious ceremonies to medical uses; a review of in-vitro, in-vivo and clinical trials. J Pharm Pharmacol. 2009 Oct;61(10):1281-93. doi: 10.1211/jpp/61.10.0003. PMID: 19814859.

Efferth T, Oesch F. Anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer activities of frankincense: Targets, treatments and toxicities. Semin Cancer Biol. 2022 May;80:39-57. doi: 10.1016/j.semcancer.2020.01.015. Epub 2020 Feb 4. PMID: 32027979.

Ammon HP. Modulation of the immune system by Boswellia serrata extracts and boswellic acids. Phytomedicine. 2010 Sep;17(11):862-7. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2010.03.003. Epub 2010 Aug 8. Erratum in: Phytomedicine. 2011 Feb 15;18(4):334. PMID: 20696559.

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