Frankincense and Myrrh Benefits for Skin Health

In this blog, we will closely examine two ancient resins, Frankincense and Myrrh. We will explore their medicinal and therapeutic properties, their uses in traditional medicine, and their potential benefits for skin health. We will also discuss their bioactive compounds, such as boswellic acids and terpenoids.
Greta Daniskova

Greta Daniskova

Greta is a BSc Biomedical Science student at the University of Westminster, London.

A blue image with text saying "Frankincense and Myrrh"

What is Frankincense?

Frankincense or olibanum is a viscous aromatic oleo-gum resin exuded from species of Boswellia tree, such as Boswellia sacra and Boswellia carterii [1, 2, 3]. It is valued as a source of bioactive compounds, particularly boswellic acids and their derivatives. The gum resin has been used for rituals, cosmetics, and folk medicine [2].

What is Frankincense used for?

In traditional medicine, frankincense is used to treat Alzheimer’s disease and is often used more generally to treat gastrointestinal and hepatic disorders as well as common inflammatory diseases, including asthma and arthritis [1, 2]. However, the scientific evidence behind these benefits (especially for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease) is limited, and more research is needed.

Other uses of frankincense include oral hygiene, wound treatment, and calming—all of which are traditional uses of frankincense oils [3].

Besides its medicinal application, the aroma profile makes frankincense relevant for the cosmetic, perfume and food and beverage industries [1, 4] and for aromatherapy treatments that encourage relaxation, peacefulness and a sense of well-being [5].

Research also has indicated that frankincense could be useful in treatment of chronic and inflammatory diseases, and brain and memory disorders [2, 6] although, much clinical work needs to be done for establishing therapeutic value of frankincense.

What is Myrrh?

Myrrh is an oleo gum resin obtained from the stems of different Commiphora species. Given its well-demonstrated historical uses such as incense and perfume, as well as in traditional medicine for numerous human diseases, myrrh continues to be used across the globe [7].

Volatile oils, resins and gums are some of the constituents of myrrh. So far, 75 compounds have been isolated from myrrh, comprising 56 sesquiterpenoids, two diterpenoids, 15 triterpenoids and two other compounds. [8]

What is Myrrh used for?

Myrrh is used for typical healing purposes: it has significant antimicrobial activity and has been known to be effective in treating many diseases [7].

In conventional medicine, it has been used to treat wounds, mouth ulcers, pains, fractures, stomach ailments, microbial infections and inflammatory diseases [9].

Experimental research has shown that myrrh has anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory activities and even wound-healing capabilities: it has cytotoxic activity against some cancer cells and is also anti-inflammatory (for wound healing) [10]. This doesn't mean that myrrh can cure cancer, but it suggests a possible direction for future research.

Myrrh has also been applied as an antiparasitic therapy; it shows efficacy against human trematode infections and fascioliasis [11, 12].

In addition, myrrh may possess abortion-inducing ability, with an 82.9% complete abortion rate in patients with incomplete abortion [13].

Furthermore, myrrh has been found to inhibit inflammatory responses and protect against sepsis [14].

Although it is used for many applications, myrrh is also a highly toxic substance. According to traditional Chinese medicine, vinegar processing decreases its toxicity [8].

Can Frankincense and Myrrh provide benefits for skin health?

Yes, frankincense and myrrh can provide several benefits for skin health, according to the research available. Both frankincense and myrrh have demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties, which can be beneficial for various skin conditions.

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Greta Daniskova

Greta Daniskova

Greta is a 2nd-year student currently pursuing her Bachelor's Degree in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Westminster in London. Currently, in her second year of undergraduate studies, she exhibits a keen interest in the dynamic field of healthcare. With a focus on understanding the intricacies of human biology and disease mechanisms, Greta is driven by a desire to contribute to advancements in medical research and patient care.