Olibanum

Olibanum

Olibanum

Olibanum, better known as frankincense in the west, is actually a resin produced from the abraded bark from over five hundred different species of trees in the family Burseraceae, each producing slightly different “gum resins” called tears. The resins are allowed to collect for three months before they are harvested, and tears from younger trees have higher potency. Endemic to the middle latitudes of Africa, the Middle East, India, and the Americas, these resin-producing trees grow in harsh and rocky zones.

The millennia-spanning history of olibanum includes many references in ancient texts and continues to the present.  In ancient Rome, Pliny the Elder claimed olibanum was an antidote to hemlock.  In ancient Egypt, it was an ingredient in Kohl, the distinctive black eyeliner. Of olibanum’s uses, the best known is undoubtedly its inclusion in incense. Safe to eat and with no observed negative effects, tears from these hardy trees are still used in ceremonies and are a popular food in many parts of the world.

Bibliography

DerMarderosian, Ara, and John A. Beutler, eds. “FRANKINCENSE, INDIAN.” The Review Of Natural Products,  STAT!Ref Online Electronic Medical Library. TextSelect. USA. 12 Nov. 2008. Accessed 27 Oct., 2008.

“Frankincense.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 13 Nov., 2008 From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Index.phptitle%3DFrankincense%26oldid%3D248867557.

Grieve, M. “Frankincense.” Botanical.com. 1995. Accessed 12 Nov., 2008 from: http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/f/franki31.html.

Mulot, Otto L. Medicinal Composition. Patent 496-694. 1892.

Rimmerman, Arieh, Neta Moussaieff, Tatiana Bregman, Alex Straiker, Christian C. Felder, Shai Shoham, Yoel Kashman, Susan M. Huang, Hyosang Lee, Esther Shohami, Ken Mackie, Michael J. Caterina, Michael J. Walker, Ester Fride, and Raphael Aphael Mechoulam. “Incense is psychoactive: Scientists identify the biology behind the ceremony.” The FASEB Journal (2008), 22(8), 3024-3034.

“Frankincense Provides Relief for Osteoarthritis.” The Washington Post, Weds., July 30, 2008. Accessed 12 Nov., 2008 from: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/30/AR2008073001481.html

Credits:

Ashley Latimer

November, 2008