Around this time of year, you’re probably getting a whiff or two of the scent of frankincense–for instance, at church, during Christmas events or in your local incense store.
That’s because this aromatic resin–which comes from the Boswellia tree and shrub and looks a little like candied ginger–was one of the three gifts the Three Wise Men brought the Baby Jesus.
And, turns out, this is a pretty smart gift to give. Why? Breathing in frankincense’s aroma can alleviate the blues and anxiety, making you feel happier and calmer, according to a 2008 study in the FASEB Journal.
For you, this means burning frankincense can be a big help during your Week 2 (the week leading up to and including ovulation) when high estrogen can prompt higher stress and anxiety.
It can also help counter sadness and irritability due to plunging estrogen during your premenstrual Week 4.
And, of course, it can help during other times in your cycle when you need a quick pick-me-up or calm-me-down.
What gives frankincense the power to impact on your mood so much? It comes down to a certain compound–incensole acetate–released when the resin is burned that activates areas of the brain that ease down moods and anxiety when inhaled.
Even better? Not only does frankincense’s uplifting and relaxing effects kick in fast–within just minutes–they last for hours and may even linger for days after inhaling it, the research suggests.
You can find frankincense resin in stores that sell incense and at Amazon.com. It burns a little differently than incense sticks or cones: You sprinkle it on top of a charcoal disc in an incense burner like one of these used specifically for resin incense. I’ve tried one of these burners myself and find it an easy way to enjoy frankincense’s scent, which smells like a delicious, rich blend of woody, peppery, lemony and sweet.
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