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Frankincense, also known as olibanum, is obtained from a scrubby tree of the genus Boswellia, native to the arid regions of Africa and the Middle East. For centuries it has been an important ingredient in religious ceremonies and it can be very useful for home use too.

In aromatherapy, frankincense oil is valued for its effects on the respiratory system. It can be used in steam inhalations, baths and massages for catarrh, bronchitis and coughs. The oil is also recommended for sufferers of asthma but in this case there should be medical supervision. Female users have also reported that baths and massages with the oil can help reduce excessive menstruation associated with menopause. Baths and massages can also help reduce pain in muscles and joints so it is sometimes used as a remedy for rheumatism and arthritis. Frankincense is beneficial for oily skin and is also used on mature skin. It is also good for tiredness, grumpiness, negative moods, lack of confidence and emotional turmoil.

Some women may find that the smell is too masculine for them and in these cases it can be blended with other oils such as rose, neroli or lavender. Frankincense is perfectly safe for home use as long as it is diluted before application.