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The class Boswellia belongs to the family of Burseraceae and includes the following:

  • Boswellia serrata - Indian frankincense (Syn.: Boswellia glabra Roxb.)
  • Boswellia sacra – Arabian frankincense, also Somalian frankincense (Syn.: Boswellia carterii Birdw.)
  • Boswellia frereana – Elemi-frankincense
  • Boswellia dalzielii – Dalziels frankincense, West Africa
  • Boswellia nana, endemic to Socotra
  • Boswellia papyrifera – Ethiopian frankincense (Syn.: Amyris papyrifera)
  • Boswellia bhaw-dajiana Birdw. – Red sea (coast), South Arabian (Hadramaut), Somaliland

Plant description and  and dispersion

These trees grow in dry areas around the horn of Africa (Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan), in Arabia (Dhofar in Southern Oman, Hadramaut n  Jemen) and in India. They grow in arid areas between stones and rocks at an altitude of 1.200m. The trees reach a height of between 1,5 to 8 m, has a bark for paper and sprouts 25 cm long flower stems.

Alternate medicine

Ancient use: the use of frankincense dates back 3500 years from the Nile valley. Egyptians used it to make the air smell nice and to heal wounds. Hippocrates and other Greek – Roman doctors used frankincense for wounds, breathing problems and stomach ailments. The success of the treatments made the herb very expensive and a sort after medicine in the middle ages.

Use in classical Europe for natural healing In classical Europe frankincense was used to alleviate the symptoms of rheumatism, by 1850 it was used both internally and externally and then by 1870 solely for external use. After 1875 frankincense disappeared from medical treatment.

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