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Offbeat Frankincense trees—of biblical lore—are being tapped out for essential oils

12:31  15 december  2019
12:31  15 december  2019 Source:   nationalgeographic.com

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When frankincense trees are cut, the sap that oozes out hardens into valuable resin. Experts worry that frankincense trees are being cut too much Some of Oman’s frankincense trees are located in a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are protected by law. In other countries, however, few or no laws

What Is Frankincense Essential Oil ? Benefits Of Frakincense Essential Oil For Hair. The problem arises largely because when the trees are tapped (the resin is extracted), they germinate less than 20% of their seed load, compared to roughly 82% average germination when they are not tapped .

a close up of a tree: Frankincense trees, found throughout northern Africa and in India, Oman, and Yemen, are increasingly under pressure, largely because of overexploitation for their aromatic resin.© Photograph by Michael Melford, Nat Geo Image Collection

Frankincense trees, found throughout northern Africa and in India, Oman, and Yemen, are increasingly under pressure, largely because of overexploitation for their aromatic resin.

On a starlit night long ago, as the story goes, three wise men brought gifts to baby Jesus in a stable. One was gold, the others frankincense and myrrh. Frankincense, like myrrh, was highly prized—thought to be worth its weight in gold—but it wouldn’t have been hard to find: Trees that yield the fragrant resin were widespread in the lands of the Bible and beyond.

Two millennia later, Anjanette DeCarlo and a team of Somalians spent a sweltering day hiking to what they thought was a virgin stand of frankincense-producing trees in the mountains near Yubbe, a town in Somaliland. But, DeCarlo says, when they arrived, after traveling more than four hours by car and another four hours on foot, “we were absolutely in shock.”

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Find out the benefits of frankincense essential oil for eyes and the best ways to use this wonderful healing Frankincense , best known as one of the 3 gifts presented to baby jesus from biblical times, is Harvested from the hard resin of the Boswellia trees , frankincense oil contains more than 200

Frankincense essential oil is distilled from the resin of the Boswellia tree that grows in many regions within Distilling the essential oils from a variety of different species of Boswellia trees results in a range Frankincense carterii is the most frequently used of frankincense essential oils out there.

DeCarlo, an ecologist and director of a project called Save Frankincense, based in Somaliland—a self-governing region northwest of Somalia that isn’t recognized by foreign governments—hadn’t expected to find tree after tree whose trunks, from top to bottom, were marred by cuts.

Frankincense, woodsy and sweetly aromatic, is one of the oldest commercial commodities, spanning more than 5,000 years. Today, thousands of tons of it are traded every year to be used by Catholic priests as incense in thuribles and by makers of perfumes, natural medicines, and essential oils that can be inhaled or applied to the skin for their purported health benefits.

Most frankincense comes from about five species of Boswellia trees, found in North Africa and India, but also in Oman, Yemen, and western Africa. The trees look gnarled and knotty, like a desert bonsai. To collect frankincense, harvesters make incisions into the trunks and scrape out the oozing sap, which hardens into frankincense resin.

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Frankincense Serrata: Of the three oils , this is the only one that is not KidSafe. It is also the best choice to aid in relief for aching or swollen joints. Allow the salve to cool, with the lid on so the oils don’t evaporate out . Leaving the salve set until fully cooled will ensure a smooth final finish on top!

What is Frankincense Essential Oil ? Essential oils have been around for thousands of years due to In some religions, frankincense essential oil is associated with one of the prized possessions of old biblical times Frankincense oil is obtained from the resin of the Boswellia sacara tree , which

According to DeCarlo, the trees should be cut no more than 12 times a year to keep them healthy. But in that mountain forest in Somaliland, she counted as many as 120 incisions in a single tree. The resin that leaks out of the cuts acts like a scab, protecting the wound so it can heal. It’s the same with our bodies, she says. If you get cut once, “you’re OK, right? You put a band-aid on it….But if you get cut, you get cut, you get cut, and you’re cut…well, you’re going to be very, very open to infection now. Your immune system is going to take a big hit trying to save you, and your immunity’s going to crash.” She adds, “It is the exact same thing with a frankincense tree.”

a pile of food: Frankincense is used in incense, natural medicines, perfumes, and essential oils that can be inhaled or applied to the skin for their purported health benefits.© Photograph by Edwin Remsberg, VWPics/Universal Images Group/Getty

Frankincense is used in incense, natural medicines, perfumes, and essential oils that can be inhaled or applied to the skin for their purported health benefits.

During the past decade or so, the market for essential oils—worth more than $7 billion in 2018 and expected to double in value by 2026—has boomed, putting greater pressure on frankincense trees. Aromatherapy used to be a “healers’ niche,” says Tim Valentiner, vice president of global strategic sourcing for the essential oil company doTERRA, but now it’s more mainstream. He says the company, which was founded in 2008, doubled in size year-on-year at the beginning. (DoTERRA funds much of DeCarlo’s research into sustainable frankincense harvesting.)

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Since Biblical times, frankincense essential oil has been used for medicinal purposes to bring relief to Sometimes these essential oils , such as frankincense , are combined with other oils that have similar We get frankincense , also known as olibanum, from the resin of the Boswellia sacara tree .

Frankincense is tapped from the scraggy but hardy trees by slashing the bark, which is called striping, and allowing the exuded resin to bleed out and harden. The essential oil is obtained by steam distillation of the dry resin. Some of the smells of the frankincense smoke are products of pyrolysis.

Just how badly Boswellia trees are doing is largely unknown—population studies are difficult in the remote, war-torn areas where these species often grow. The International Union for Conservation of Nature, which evaluates the conservation status of plants and animals, has assessed one of the primary frankincense species, Boswellia sacra, as near threatened. But that was back in 1998.

Frankincense trees aren’t covered under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, the global treaty that regulates cross-border trade in plants and animals, but experts have argued that Boswellia species meet the criteria for protection.

National laws vary widely. In Somaliland, for example, it’s illegal under xeer—traditional law—to overharvest trees. Some of Oman’s frankincense trees are located in a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are protected by law. In other countries, however, few or no laws cover frankincense, Bongers says.

Even where laws exist, Valentiner says, they may not amount to much because remoteness of frankincense trees makes policing them impossible. “This is the ends of the Earth,” he says. “These are extremely rural and rugged areas to access.”

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What is the Significance of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh? Biblical Account of the Magi. This line of thought can even trace to balsam oil , derived from the resin of the balsam trees in the same Frankincense essential oil benefits and uses are ancient, well documented benefits and have made

If trees are damaged or lost, that loss is personal and beyond mere financial inconvenience. These trees grow wild in the most remote regions as do these families and clans. Natural Frankincense Rejuvenative Creme. Made from the whole oleoresin of Boswellia Frereana not just the essential oils .

First signs of trouble

In a study in 2006, Frans Bongers, an ecologist at Wageningen University & Research, in the Netherlands, sounded early warning. His study showed that by the late 1990s, Boswellia papyrifera trees in Eritrea were becoming increasingly hard to find. This summer, Bongers co-authored a new paper predicting a 50-percent reduction in Boswellia papyrifera within the next two decades. This species—found mainly in Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Sudan—accounts for about two-thirds of global frankincense production.

His team discovered that the trees aren’t regenerating: In more than half the populations they assessed, they didn’t find a single young tree. The culprits are cattle grazing on saplings, uncontrolled fires, and overtapping—cutting a tree too many times. “There’s a very high mortality rate in the old trees,” he says, which leads to weaker trees that produce fewer and lower-quality seeds.

Even though the study focuses on one species, the paper warns that all Boswellia species are threatened by habitat loss and overexploitation. Boswellia are found almost exclusively in regions with a harsh, arid climate that are plagued by conflict and poverty, and selling the resin may be the only source of income for many people in these areas, leading to overtapping, Bongers says. “Local people want to make a living. When I talk to people, they think that there is no problem because the trees are there, and if they tap, they get it, so who cares? It’s about short-term—taking care of your family.”

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But if you are new to essential oils and are not quite sure what to do with frankincense essential oil and how best to harness its powers for yourself and Frankincense is a resin from the trees of the genus, Boswellia. There are around 20 species of Boswellia trees that grow natively in Africa, India

Frankincense is a milky white resin derived from the tree sap of trees found along the Arabian peninsula, East Africa, and India. In an ancient biblical setting it was prized for its scent, but it turns out that frankincense essential oil benefits go far beyond smell, and include a number of medicinal

For the villager trying to scrape out a living from frankincense trees, the “biggest problem,” according to Ahmed Dhunkaal, a harvester and researcher in Somaliland, is the middlemen who buy resin and broker it to big companies. These traders often exploit vulnerable harvesters. They claim they’re taking the frankincense on loan but then never pay for it, leaving families impoverished. “People are angry,” Dhunkaal says.

Osman Degelleh, the former director general and current development advisor to Somaliland’s Ministry of Trade, says the previous government planned to create a body dedicated to managing frankincense and resins, but that never materialized. He says the key is to foster small-scale frankincense suppliers who harvest trees sustainably and support their communities.

“We have big companies who are like sharks,” Degelleh says. Wealth isn’t evenly distributed across the supply chain of harvesters, middlemen, and sellers. “The onus is on the government to do something about that.” While the big companies are enormously wealthy, he says, harvesters “are earning peanuts.”

Seeking solutions

Gerben Boersma, CEO of Three Kings Incense, a Holland-based supplier of incense to Catholic churches around the world, says frankincense prices have been going up in recent years even as the quality of the resin has gone down. Makers of frankincense-based products are compensating for the scarcity by mixing in high-quality essential oils and other things, such as sandalwood and flower blossoms.

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Frankincense & Myrrh are two of the oldest and most famous of aromatherapy essential oils (resins) known to man. “Who is this coming up from the wilderness Like palm- trees of smoke, Perfumed with myrrh and frankincense , From every powder of the merchant?”

Frankincense has been one of the world's most treasured commodities since the beginning of written history. Frankincense trees require an arid climate where moisture is provided by morning mist. Resins which fall to the ground are collected on large palm leaves placed when first tapping the tree .

The long-term solution to shortages, Boersma says, is to revert to old, more sustainable ways of harvesting frankincense. “When you grow a tree, I think it takes 25 years before it starts supplying its first incense. So you have to find some crazy person who’s willing to spend all of that time and have that patience to work like that. And that’s getting more and more difficult.”

Bongers helped develop guidelines for how to tap trees sustainably, such as by allowing them a full recovery year for every few years of tapping. He also recommends fencing and firebreaks to protect forests from wildfires and cows that overgraze saplings. He acknowledges that encouraging people in difficult circumstances to implement such measures is challenging. “I’m not sure that these guidelines are very well studied, let’s put it that way,” he says.

Because enforcement is so difficult in the remote, resource-poor areas where frankincense grows, Bongers believes that consumer demand for responsibly sourced products will spur change for the good of frankincense forests.

Some companies—including doTERRA, which sells 36 products containing frankincense, and the cosmetics company Lush, which sells 16—cater to more informed customers. They’re actively advertising that their frankincense is ethically sourced. (National Geographic has not independently verified company practices and supply chains.)

So much effort goes into making essential oils, says Kevin Wilson, director of public relations for doTERRA, that consumers have to understand that pure, sustainably sourced frankincense won’t come cheap. “If a bottle of frankincense is selling for $9 or $10 at a local grocery store, they can probably be sure that may not be the pure product,” he says. DoTERRA’s 15-milliliter bottles (imagine a bottle one twenty-fourth the size of a 12-ounce soda can) sell for about $90.

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Frankincense essential oil is one of the remedies I use to treat my own nerve pain. Like many adults, I suffer from excess inflammation. The frankincense essential oil you see below is sold by Plant Therapy, one of the trusted companies I feature on this site.

For Gabbi Loedolff, African hub coordinator for Lush’s buying team, selecting suppliers who care about sustainability largely revolves around growing new trees. “We’re really in this mindset of moving toward regeneration, so how can you actually create a surplus….And that’s certainly what we’re working on trying to figure out for frankincense.” Loedolff says she and other company representatives make a point of traveling to source forests to see how the harvesting is done, and they select suppliers who show commitment to sustainability.

Some researchers and harvesters, including DeCarlo and Dhunkaal, say that growing frankincense trees commercially on plantations would help, rather than relying exclusively on wild trees.

Dhunkaal has established a nursery of Boswellia carterii in Somaliland. Using his own money and donations from doTERRA and Lush, he built a greenhouse, collects clippings from wild trees, plants the clippings in his nursery, and pays men to water the saplings by hand. “Propagation is the best solution,” he says. He also provides training to frankincense harvesters to help discourage overcutting of trees in the wild.

If nothing changes, DeCarlo says, consumers have to ask themselves: Are we willing to lose frankincense in a few generations? “We’ve loved frankincense for a long time,” she says. "What I don’t want to see is that we love these trees to death.”

Wildlife Watch is an investigative reporting project between National Geographic Society and National Geographic Partners focusing on wildlife crime and exploitation. Read more Wildlife Watch stories here, and learn more about National Geographic Society’s nonprofit mission at nationalgeographic.org. Send tips, feedback, and story ideas to ngwildlife@natgeo.com.

Body of a newborn baby is found on a rural property in New South Wales .
Mystery surrounds why the body of a newborn baby was found in a rural property at Coffs Harbour, in New South Wales. Police were called to the isolated property on Holloways Road, Sandy Beach just after midday on Tuesday.Inside officers found the body of a newborn baby.A post-mortem is being carried out to establish the age, gender and cause of death. Two hours later, police were called to North Beach at Mylestom after reports a member of the public found a 'substantial part of a human leg' on the beach.The remains included a femur, tibia and foot bones with a wetsuit bootie on the end.

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