Endangered Plant Species & Aromatherapy – Part 2

Frankincense (Boswellia carteri, B. sacra, B. papyri et al) in use for over 5,000 years and now threatened?

It may seem counterintuitive that some Frankincense species are on the threatened species list of Cropwatch (www.cropwatch.org) since no trees are destroyed in harvesting the resin (which is then steam distilled to make Frankincense essential oil) but it appears that the sap (resin) is being over-harvested and many of the trees are dying. And, I’ve just learned that only 16% of seeds of trees from which sap has been harvested are viable whereas 80% of seeds from untouched trees are viable. To make matters worse, it takes 8-10 years for the tree to mature enough to make sap harvesting possible. Add all this up and it’s easy to see that one must consider carefully before purchasing and using Frankincense.

Frankincense is just one example showing that not only do we in the aromatherapy and the healing arts professions need to look at the efficacy and quality of each plant/herb/oil/medicine we use and recommend but we need to dig deeper on each one and make sure that we’re doing the right thing for the planet as well as for the individual.

For a more in-depth review of Frankincense, go to Frankincense article on Wikipedia.

See also section on Frankincense in Cropwatch’s Jan 2009 newsletter.

*This information is provided for educational interest and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease.

© © 2010 Joie Power, Ph.D. / The Aromatherapy School | All Rights Reserved

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