It is nice to see alternative therapies being represented in a medical publication. However, I do have to comment on the article regarding frankincense [Alt Meds Update, March 2017]. The article eludes to frankincense essential oil as being a cure or preventive for some types of cancer. The antitumoral component of frankincense is boswellic acid. Boswellic acid is not found in the essential oil, but it is in the gum resin. In an article by Robert Tisserand, an essential oil expert, he states: “They are being told, in videos and blog posts, that frankincense oil contains boswellic acid—the antitumoral active ingredient in frankincense gum resin. But it doesn’t, and the simple reason is that boswellic acid is much too heavy a molecule to be volatile.” (Retrieved from: 

While it is true that there have been studies using frankincense essential oil in vitro, this does not equate to in vivo studies. We are a long way from that. Many of the more recent studies use the gum resin or extract. Frankincense essential oil is a wonderful anti-inflammatory. I have used it in pain blends. It is also very skin friendly and is used in many facial creams. It has immune-stimulating properties and antioxidant properties. Energetically, it supports focus and emotional healing, and it quiets the mind. Internal use of essential oils should only be done under the supervision of a person who specializes in medical aromatherapy. There are OTC forms of the resin. You can also burn the resin just like incense. Most healthcare providers are not familiar with the safe use of essential oils. Just as in nutrition, there are certified aromatherapists who can assist providers in helping their patients use essential oils safely.—Theresa A. Lohman, DNP, FNP-BC, CNM (ret), Maumee, Ohio

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