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Frankincense from Yemen

Frankincense, also called olibanum (Arabic language: لبٌان, lubbān), is an aromatic resin obtained from trees of the genus Boswellia, particularly Boswellia sacra (syn. B. carteri, B. thurifera), Boswellia frereana, Boswellia bhaw-dajiana (Burseraceae). It is used in incense as well as in perfumes.

There are four main species of Boswellia which produce true frankincense and each type of resin is available in various grades. The grades depend on the time of harvesting, and the resin is hand sorted for quality. Anyone interested in frankincense would be well advised to first obtain a small sample of each type from a reputable dealer in order to ascertain the difference between each resin.

Contents

Description

Frankincense is tapped from the very scraggly but hardy Boswellia tree by slashing the bark and allowing the exuded resins to bleed out and harden. These hardened resins are called tears. There are numerous species and varieties of frankincense trees, each producing a slightly different type of resin. Differences in soil and climate create even more diversity of the resin, even within the same species.

Frankincense trees are also considered unusual for their ability to grow in environments so unforgiving that they sometimes seem to grow directly out of solid rock. The means of initial attachment to the stone is not known but is accomplished by a bulbous disk-like swelling of the trunk. This disk-like growth at the base of the tree prevents it from being torn away from the rock during the violent storms that frequent the region they grow in. This feature is slight or absent in trees grown in rocky soil or gravel. The tears from these hardy survivors are considered superior due to their more fragrant aroma.

Flowers and branches of the Boswellia sacra tree, the species from which most frankincense is derived

The trees start producing resin when they are about 8 to 10 years old.[1] Tapping is done 2 to 3 times a year with the final taps producing the best tears due to their higher aromatic terpene, sesquiterpene and diterpene content. Generally speaking, the more opaque resins are the best quality. Omani frankincense (from Boswellia sacra)[1] is said to be the best in the world, although fine resin is also produced in Yemen and along the northern coast of Somalia.

Recent studies have indicated that frankincense tree populations are declining due to over-exploitation. Heavily tapped trees have been found to produce seeds that germinate at only 16% while seeds of trees that had not been tapped germinate at more than 80%.

History

Indirect burning of frankincense on a hot coal

Frankincense has been traded on the Arabian Peninsula and in North Africa for more than 5000 years.[2] Frankincense was found in the tomb of the ancient Egyptian King Tutankhamen, who died in 1323 BC.[3]

Frankincense was reintroduced to Europe by Frankish Crusaders. Although it is better known as "frankincense" to westerners, the resin is also known as olibanum, which is derived from the Arabic al-lubān (roughly translated: "that which results from milking"), a reference to the milky sap tapped from the Boswellia tree. Some have also postulated that the name comes from the Arabic term for "Oil of Lebanon" since Lebanon was the place where the resin was sold and traded with Europeans. Compare with Exodus 30:34, where it is named levonah, meaning either "white" or "Lebanese" in Hebrew.

The lost city of Ubar, sometimes identified with Irem in what is now the town of Shisr in Oman, is believed to have been a centre of the frankincense trade along the recently rediscovered "Incense Road". Ubar was rediscovered in the early 1990s and is now under archaeological excavation.

The Greek historian Herodotus was familiar with Frankincense and knew it was harvested from trees in southern Arabia. He reports, however, that the gum was dangerous to harvest because of venomous snakes that lived in the trees. He goes on to describe the method used by the Arabians to get around this problem, that being the burning of the gum of the styrax tree whose smoke would drive the snakes away.[4] The resin is also mentioned by Theophrastus and by Pliny the Elder in his Naturalis Historia.

Quality

Frankincense

Frankincense comes in many grades, and its quality is based on colour, purity, aroma, and age. Silver and Hojari are generally considered the highest grades of frankincense. The Omanis themselves generally consider Silver to be a better grade than Hojari, though most Western connoisseurs think that it should be the other way round. This may be due to climatic conditions with the Hojari smelling best in the relatively cold, damp climate of Europe and North America, whereas Silver may well be more suited to the hot dry conditions of Arabia.

Local market information in Oman suggests that the term Hojari encompasses a broad range of high-end frankincense including Silver. Resin value is determined not only by fragrance but also by color and clump size, with lighter color and larger clumps being more highly prized. The most valuable Hojari frankincense locally available in Oman is even more expensive than Somalia's Maydi frankincense derived from B. frereana (see below). The vast majority of this ultra-high-end B. sacra frankincense is purchased by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said the ruler of Oman, and is notoriously difficult for western buyers to correctly identify and purchase.

Uses

Boswellia sacra tree, from which frankincense is derived, growing inside Biosphere 2

Frankincense is used in perfumery and aromatherapy. Olibanum essential oil is obtained by steam distillation of the dry resin. Some of the smell of the olibanum smoke is due to the products of pyrolysis.

Frankincense was lavishly used in religious rites. In the Book of Exodus in the Old Testament, it was an ingredient for incense (Ex 30:34); according to the book of Matthew 2:11, gold, frankincense, and myrrh were among the gifts to Jesus by the Biblical Magi "from out of the East."

The Egyptians ground the charred resin into a powder called kohl. Kohl was used to make the distinctive black eyeliner seen on so many figures in Egyptian art. The aroma of frankincense is said to represent life and the Judaic, Christian, and Islamic faiths have often used frankincense mixed with oils to anoint newborn infants and individuals considered to be moving into a new phase in their spiritual lives.

The growth of Christianity depressed the market for frankincense during the 4th century AD. Desertification made the caravan routes across the Rub al Khali or "Empty Quarter" of Arabia more difficult. Additionally, increased raiding by the nomadic Parthians in the Near East caused the frankincense trade to dry up after about 300 AD.

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Traditional medicine

Frankincense is edible and often used in various traditional medicines in Asia for digestion and healthy skin. Edible frankincense must be pure for internal consumption, meaning it should be translucent, with no black or brown impurities. It is often light yellow with a (very) slight greenish tint. It is often chewed like gum, but it is stickier because it is a resin.

In Ayurvedic medicine Indian frankincense (Boswellia serrata) has been used for hundreds of years for treating arthritis.[5]

Burning frankincense repels mosquitos and thus helps protect people and animals from mosquito-borne illnesses, such as malaria, West Nile Virus, and Dengue Fever.[6]

Frankincense essential oil

Frankincense olibanum resin

The essential oil of frankincense is produced by steam distillation of the tree resin. The oil's chemical components are 75% monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, monoterpenoles, sesquiterpenols, and ketones. It has a good balsamic and sweet fragrance, while the Indian frankincense oil has a very fresh smell.

Perfume

Olibanum is characterized by a balsamic-spicy, slightly lemon, and typical fragrance of incense, with a slightly conifer-like undertone. It is used in the perfume as well as cosmetics and pharmaceuticals industries.

Medical research

Frankincense

Standardized preparations of Indian frankincense from Boswellia serrata are being investigated in scientific studies as a treatment for chronic inflammatory diseases such as Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and osteoarthritis. Initial clinical study results indicate efficacy of incense preparations for Crohn's disease. For therapy trials in ulcerative colitis, asthma, and rheumatoid arthritis there are only isolated reports and pilot studies from which there is not yet sufficient evidence of safety and efficacy. Similarly, the long-term effects and side effects of taking frankincense has not yet been scientifically investigated. Boswellic acid in vitro antiproliferative effects on various tumor cell lines (such as melanoma, glioblastomas, liver cancer) are based on induction of apoptosis. A positive effect has been found in the use of incense on the accompanying specimens of brain tumors, although in smaller clinical trials. Some scientists say the results are due to methodological flaws. The main active compound of Indian incense is viewed as being boswellic acid.

As of May 2008 FASEB Journal announced that Johns Hopkins University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have determined that frankincense smoke is a psychoactive drug that relieves depression and anxiety in mice.[7] The researchers found that the chemical compound incensole acetate (see structure here [1]) is responsible for the effects.[7]

In a different study, an enriched extract of "Indian Frankincense" (usually Boswellia serrata) was used in a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study of patients with osteoarthritis. Patients receiving the extract showed significant improvement in their arthritis in as little as seven days. The compound caused no major adverse effects and, according to the study authors, is safe for human consumption and long-term use.[8]

It should be noted that the study was funded by a company which produces frankincense extract,[3] and that the results have not yet been duplicated by another study.

In a study published in March of 2009 by the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center it was reported that "Frankincense oil appears to distinguish cancerous from normal bladder cells and suppress cancer cell viability.""Frankincense oil derived from Boswellia carteri induces tumor cell specific cytotoxicity.". www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19296830?dopt=Citation.  

Chemical composition

Structure of β-boswellic acid, one of the main active components of frankincense

These are some of the chemical compounds present in frankincense:

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b "Omani World Heritage Sites". www.omanwhs.gov.om. http://www.omanwhs.gov.om/english/Frank/FrankincenseTree.asp. Retrieved 2009-01-14.  
  2. ^ Paper on Chemical Composition of Frankincense
  3. ^ a b "Chemical & Engineering News: Science & Technology - What's That Stuff? Frankincense And Myrrh". pubs.acs.org. http://pubs.acs.org/cen/whatstuff/86/8651sci2.html. Retrieved 2009-01-11.  
  4. ^ Herodotus 3,107
  5. ^ "JOINT RELIEF". www.herbcompanion.com. http://www.herbcompanion.com/health/JOINT-RELIEF.aspx?page=2. Retrieved 2009-01-12.  
  6. ^ "Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center". www.sqcc.org. http://www.sqcc.org/about_oman/frankincense.htm. Retrieved 2009-01-17.  
  7. ^ a b "Breaking News--The FASEB Journal (07-101865)". www.fasebj.org. http://www.fasebj.org/Press_Room/07_101865_Press_Release.shtml. Retrieved 2008-05-20.  
  8. ^ "A double blind, randomized, placebo controlled study of the efficacy and safety of 5-Loxin for treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee". Arthritis Research & Therapy. http://arthritis-research.com/content/10/4/R85. Retrieved 2008-10-09.  
  9. ^ a b c "Olibanum.—Frankincense.". www.henriettesherbal.com. http://www.henriettesherbal.com/eclectic/kings/boswellia.html. Retrieved 2009-01-14.  
  10. ^ a b c "Farmacy Query". www.ars-grin.gov. http://sun.ars-grin.gov:8080/npgspub/xsql/duke/plantdisp.xsql?taxon=168. Retrieved 2009-01-14.  

References

  • The Road to Ubar: Finding the Atlantis of the Sands — Clapp Nicholas, 1999. ISBN 0-395-95786-9.
  • Frankincense & Myrrh: A Study of the Arabian Incense Trade — Groom, Nigel, 1981. ISBN 0-86685-593-9.
  • Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh: An Introduction to Eastern Christian Spirituality — Maloney George A, 1997. ISBN 0-8245-1616-8.
  • Tapped-out trees threaten frankincense, Foxnews.com science (citing a study co-authored by botanists and ecologists from the Netherlands and Eritrea and published in The Journal of Applied Ecology, Dec. 2006.)
  • Frankincense Provides Relief for Osteoarthritis

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Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

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Specific

(Exo 30:34 NIV) Then the LORD said to Moses, "Take fragrant spices--gum resin, onycha and galbanum--and pure frankincense, all in equal amounts,

(Rev 18:13 NIV) cargoes of cinnamon and spice, of incense, myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and bodies and souls of men.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

FRANKINCENSE,' or Olibanum 2 (Gr. Xc i 3avwr6s, later Obos; Lat., tus or thus; Heb., lebonah; 3 Ar., luban; 4 Turk., ghyunluk; Hind., ganda-birosa 5), a gum-resin obtained from certain species of trees of the genus Boswellia, and natural order Burseraceae. The members of the genus are possessed of the following characters: - Bark often papyraceous; leaves deciduous, compound, alternate and imparipinnate, with leaflets serrate or entire; flowers in racemes or panicles, white, green, yellowish or pink, having a. small persistent, 5-dentate calyx, 5 petals, 1 0 stamens, a sessile 3 to 5-chambered ovary, a long style, and a 3-lobed stigma; fruit trigonal or pentagonal; and seed compressed. Sir George Birdwood (Trans. Lin. Soc. xxvii., 1 Stephen Skinner, M.D. (Etymologicon linguae Anglicanae, Lond., 1671), gives the derivation: " Frankincense, Thus, q.d. Incensum (i.e. Thus Libere seu Liberaliter, ut in sacris officiis par est, adolendum." 2 " Sic olibanum dixere pro thure ex Graeco b At(3avor "(Salmasius, C. S. Plinianae exercitationes, t. ii. p. 926, b. F., Traj. ad Rhen., 1689 fol.). So also Fuchs (Op. didact. pars. ii. p. 42, 1604 fol.), " Officinis non sine risu eruditorum, Graeco articulo adjecto, Olibanus vocatur." The term olibano was used in ecclesiastical Latin as early as the pontificate of Benedict IX., in the iith century. (See Ferd. Ughellus, Italia sacra, tom. i. 108, D., Ven., 1717 fol.) So designated from its whiteness (J. G. Stuckius, Sacror. et sacrific. gent. descrip., p. 79, Lugd. Bat., 1695, fol.; Kitto, Cycl. Bibl. Lit. ii. p. 806, 1870); cf. Laben, the Somali name for cream (R. F. Burton, First Footsteps in E. Africa, p. 178, 1856).

4 Written Louan by Garcias da Horta (Aromat. et simpl. medicament. hist., C. Clusii Atrebatis Exoticorum lib. sept., p. 157, 1605, fol.), and stated to have been derived by the Arabs from the Greek name, the term less commonly used by them being Conder: cf. Sanskrit Kunda. According to Colebrooke (in Asiatick Res. ix. p. 379, 1807), the Hindu writers on Materia Medica use for the resin of Boswellia thurifera the designation Cunduru. 5 A term applied also to the resinous exudation of Pinus longifolia (see Dr E. J. Waring, Pharmacopoeia of India, p. 52, Lond., 1868).

1871) distinguishes five species of Boswellia: (A) B. thurifera, Colebr. (B. glabra and B. serrata, Roxb.), indigenous to the mountainous tracts of central India and the Coromandel coast, and B. papyrifera (Plosslea floribunda, Endl.) of Abyssinia, which, though both thuriferous, are not known to yield any of the olibanum of commerce; and (B) B. Frereana (see Elemi, vol. x. p. 259), B. Bhua-Dajiana, and B. Carterii, the " Yegaar," " Mohr Add," and " Mohr Madow " of the Somali country, in East Africa, the last species including a variety, the " Maghrayt d'Sheehaz " of Hadramaut, Arabia, all of which are sources of true frankincense or olibanum. The trees on the Somali coast are described by Captain G. B. Kempthorne as growing, without soil, out of polished marble rocks, to which they are attached by a thick oval mass of substance resembling a mixture of lime and mortar: the purer the marble the finer appears to be the growth of the tree. The young trees, he states, furnish the most valuable gum, the older yielding merely a clear glutinous fluid resembling copal varnish.' To obtain the frankincense a deep incision is made in the trunk of the tree, and below it a narrow strip of bark 5 in. in length is peeled off. When the milk-like juice (" spuma pinguis," Pliny) which exudes has hardened by exposure to the atmosphere, the incision is deepened. In about three months the resin has attained the required degree of consistency. The season for gathering lasts from May until the first rains in September. The large clear globules are scraped off into baskets, and the inferior quality that has run down the tree is collected separately. The coast of south Arabia is yearly visited by parties of Somalis, who pay the Arabs for the privilege of collecting frankincense. 2 In the interior of the country about the plain of Dhofar, 3 during the south-west monsoon, frankincense and other gums are gathered by the Beni Gurrah Bedouins, and might be obtained by them in much larger quantities; their lawlessness, however, and the lack of a safe place of exchange or sale are obstacles to the development of trade. (See C. Y. Ward, The Gulf of 'Aden Pilot, p. 117, 1863.) Much as formerly in the region of Sakhalites in Arabia (the tract between Ras Makalla and Ras Agab), 4 described by Arrian, so now on the sea-coast of the Somali country, the frankincense when collected is stored in heaps at various stations. Thence, packed in sheepand goat-skins, in quantities of 20 to 40 lb, it is carried on camels to Berbera, for shipment either to Aden, Makalla and other Arabian ports, or directly to Bombay.' At Bombay, like gum-acacia, it is assorted, and is then packed for re-exportation to Europe, China and elsewhere. 6 Arrian relates that it was an import of Barbarike on the Sinthus (Indus). The idea held by several writers, including Niebuhr, that frankincense was a product of India, would seem to have originated in a confusion of that drug with benzoin and other odoriferous substances, and also in the sale of imported frankincense with the native products of India. The gum resin of Boswellia thurifera was described by Colebrooke (in Asiatick Researches, ix. 381), and after him by Dr J. Fleming (Ib. xi. 158), as true frankincense, or olibanum; from this, however, it differs in its softness, and tendency to melt into a mass' (Birdwood, loc. cit., p. 146). It is sold in the village bazaars of Khandeish in India under the name of Dup-Salai, i.e. incense of the " Salai tree"; and according to Mr F. Porter Smith, M.B. (Contrib. towards the Mat. Med. and Nat. Hist. of China, p. 162, Shanghai, 1871), is used as incense in China. The last authority also mentions 1 See " Appendix," vol. i. p. 419 of Sir W. C. Harris's Highland of Aethiopia (2nd ed., Lond., 1844); and Trans. Bombay Geog. Soc. xiii. (1857), p. 136.

2 Cruttenden, Trans. Bombay Geog. Soc. vii. (1846), p. 121; S. B. Miles, J. Geog. Soc. (1872).

Or Dhafar. The incense of " Dofar " is alluded to by Camoens, Os Lusiadas, x. 201.

4 H. J. Carter, " Comparative Geog. of the South-East Coast of Arabia," in J. Bombay Branch of R. Asiatic Soc. iii. (Jan. 1851), p. 296; and Muller, Geog. Graeci Minores, i. p. 278 (Paris, 1855).

' J. Vaughan, Pharm. Journ. xii. (1853) pp. 227-229; and Ward, op. cit. p. 97.

6 Pereira, Elem. of Mat. Med. ii. pt. 2, p. 380 (4th ed., 1847).

' " Boswellia thurifera,".. . says Waring (Pharm. of India, p. 52), " has been thought to yield East Indian olibanum, but there is no reliable evidence of its so doing." olibanum as a reputed natural product of China. Bernhard von Breydenbach, 8 Ausonius, Florus and others, arguing, it would seem, from its Hebrew and Greek names, concluded that olibanum came from Mount Lebanon; and Chardin (Voyage en Perse, &c., 1711) makes the statement that the frankincense tree grows in the mountains of Persia, particularly Caramania.

Frankincense, or olibanum, occurs in commerce in semiopaque, round, ovate or oblong tears or irregular lumps, which are covered externally with a white dust, the result of their friction against one another. It has an amorphous internal structure, a dull fracture; is of a yellow to yellowish-brown hue, the purer varieties being almost colourless, or possessing a greenish tinge, and has a somewhat bitter aromatic taste, and a balsamic odour, which is developed by heating. Immersed in alcohol it becomes opaque, and with water it yields an emulsion. It contains about 72% of resin soluble in alcohol (Kurbatow); a large proportion of gum soluble in water, and apparently identical with gum arabic; and a small quantity of a colourless inflammable essential oil, one of the constituents of which is the body oliben, C,0H16. Frankincense burns with a bright white flame, leaving an ash consisting mainly of calcium carbonate, the remainder being calcium phosphate, and the sulphate,. chloride and carbonate of potassium (Braconnot). 9 Good frankincense, Pliny tells us, is recognized by its whiteness, size,. brittleness and ready inflammability. That which occurs in globular drops is, he says, termed " male frankincense "; the most esteemed, he further remarks, is in breast-shaped drops,. formed each by the union of two tears. 10 The best frankincense, as we learn from Arrian," was formerly exported from the neighbourhood of Cape Elephant in Africa (the modern Ras Fiel); and A. von Kremer, in his description of the commerce of the Red Sea (Aegypten, &c., p. 185, ii. Theil, Leipzig, 1863), observes. that the African frankincense, called by the Arabs " asli," is of twice the value of the Arabian " luban." Captain S. B. Miles (loc. cit., p. 64) states that the best kind of frankincense, known to the Somali as " bedwi " or " sheheri," comes from the trees. " Mohr Add " and " Mohr Madow " (vide supra), and from a taller species of Boswellia, the " Boido," and is sent to Bombay for exportation to Europe; and that an inferior " mayeti," the produce of the " Yegaar," is exported chiefly to Jeddah and Yemen ports." The latter may possibly be what Niebuhr alludes. to as " Indian frankincense." 13 Garcias da Horta, in asserting the Arabian origin of the drug, remarks that the term " Indian " is often applied by the Arabs to a dark-coloured variety.'4 According to Pliny (Nat. Hist. xiv. 1; cf. Ovid, Fasti i. 337 8 " Libanus igitur est mons redolentie & summe aromaticitatis. nam ibi herbe odorifere crescunt. ibi etiam arbores thurifere coalescunt quarum gummi electum olibanum a medicis nuncupatur."- Perigrinatio, p. 53 (1502, fol.).

9 See, on the chemistry of frankincense, Braconnot, Ann. de chimie, lxviii. (1808) pp. 60-69; Johnston, Phil. Trans. (1839), pp. 301-305; J. Stenhouse, Ann. der Chem. and Pharm. xxxv. (1840) p. 306; and A. Kurbatow, Zeitsch. flit' Chem. (1871), p. 201.

104, Praecipua autem gratia est mammoso, cum haerente lacryma priore consecuta alia miscuit se " (Nat. Hist. xii. 32). One of the Chinese names for frankincense, Ju-hiang, " milk-perfume," is explained by the Pen Ts'au (xxxiv. 45), a Chinese work, as being derived from the nipple-like form of its drops. (See E. Bretschneider, On the Knowledge possessed by the Ancient Chinese of the Arabs, &c., p. 19, Lond., 1871.) 11 The Voyage of Nearchus, loc. cit. 12 Vaughan (Pharm. Journ. xii. 1853) speaks of the Arabian Luban, commonly called Morbat or Shaharree Luban, as realizing higher prices in the market than any of the qualities exported from Africa. The incense of " Esher," i.e. Shihr or Shehr, is mentioned by Marco Polo, as also by Barbosa. (See Yule, op. cit. ii. p. 377.) J. Raymond Wellsted (Travels to the City of the Caliphs, p. 173, Lond., 1840) distinguishes two kinds of frankincense - " Meaty," selling at $4 per cwt., and an inferior article fetching 20% less.

13 " Es scheint, dass selber die Araber ihr eignes Rauchwerk nicht hoch schatzen; denn die Vornehmen in Jemen brauchen gemeiniglich indianisches Rauchwerk, ja eine grosse Menge Mastix von der Insel Scio " (Beschreibung von Arabien, p. 143, Kopenh., 1772).

14 " De Arabibus minus mirum, qui nigricantem colorem, quo Thus Indicum praeditum esse vult Dioscorides [lib. i. c. 70], Indum plerumque vocent, ut ex Myrobalano nigro quem Indum appellant, patet " (op. sup. cit. p. 157).

sq.), frankincense was not sacrificially employed in Trojan times. It was used by the ancient Egyptians in their religious rites, but, as Herodotus tells us (ii. 86), not in embalming. It constituted a fourth part of the Jewish incense of the sanctuary (Ex. xxx. 34), and is frequently mentioned in the Pentateuch. With other spices it was stored in a great chamber of the house of God at Jerusalem (1 Chron. ix. 29, Neh. xiii. 5-9). On the sacrificial use and import of frankincense and similar substances see Incense.

In the Red Sea regions frankincense is valued not only for its sweet odour when burnt, but as a masticatory; and blazing lumps of it are not infrequently used for illumination instead of oil lamps. Its fumes are an excellent insectifuge. As a medicine it was in former times in high repute. Pliny (Nat. Hist. xxv. 82) mentions it as an antidote to hemlock. Avicenna (ed. Plempii, lib. ii. p. 161, Lovanii, 1658, fol.) recommends it for tumours, ulcers of the head and ears, affections of the breast, vomiting, dysentery and fevers. In the East frankincense has been found efficacious as an external application in carbuncles, blind boils and gangrenous sores, and as an internal agent is given in gonorrhoea. In China it was an old internal remedy for leprosy and struma, and is accredited with stimulant, tonic, sedative, astringent and vulnerary properties. It is not used in modern medicine, being destitute of any special virtues. (See Waring, Pharm. of India, p. 443, &c.; and F. Porter Smith, op. cit., p. 162.) Common frankincense or thus, Abietis resina, is the term applied to a resin which exudes from fissures in the bark of the Norway spruce fir, Abies excelsa, D.C.; when melted in hot water and strained it constitutes " Burgundy pitch," Pix abietina. The concreted turpentine obtained in the United States by making incisions in the trunk of a species of pine, Pinus australis, is also so designated. It is commercially known as " scrape," and is similar to the French " galipot " or " barras." Common frankincense is an ingredient in some ointments and plasters, and on account of its pleasant odour when burned has been used in incense as a substitute for olibanum. (See Fliickiger and Hanbury, Pharmacographia.) The " black frankincense oil " of the Turks is stated by Hanbury (Science Papers, p. 142, 1876) to be liquid storax. (F. H. B.)


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Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

(Heb. lebonah; Gr. libanos, i.e., "white"), an odorous resin imported from Arabia (Isa 60:6; Jer 6:20), yet also growing in Palestine (Song 4:14). It was one of the ingredients in the perfume of the sanctuary (Ex 30:34), and was used as an accompaniment of the meat-offering (Lev 2:1, Lev 2:16; Lev 6:15; Lev 24:7).

When burnt it emitted a fragrant odour, and hence the incense became a symbol of the Divine name (Mal 1:11; Song 1:3) and an emblem of prayer (Ps 1412; Lk 1:10; Rev 5:8; Rev 8:3).

This frankincense, or olibanum, used by the Jews in the temple services is not to be confounded with the frankincense of modern commerce, which is an exudation of the Norway spruce fir, the Pinus abies. It was probably a resin from the Indian tree known to botanists by the name of Boswellia serrata or thurifera, which grows to the height of forty feet.

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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