Introduction of Ru Xiang:Frankincense or Olibanum.

TCM Herbalism:Medicinals and Classifications. ✵The article gives records of the herb Frankincense, its English name, Latin name, property and flavor, its botanical source three plant species, ①.Boswellia carterii Birdw., ②.Boswellia bhawdajiana Birdw., ③.Boswellia neglecta M. Moore., with a detailed introduction to the botanical features of these three plant species, the growth characteristics, and ecological environment of these three plant species, the features of the herb Frankincense, its pharmacological actions, medicinal efficacy, and administration guide.


herb blocks of Olibanum Pin Yin Name: Rǔ Xiānɡ.
 English Name: Frankincense.
 Latin Name: Olibanum.
 Property and flavor: warm, pungent, bitter.

 Brief introduction: The herb Olibanum is the gum-resin obtained from Boswellia carterii Birdwood and possibly other species of Boswellia, used to relieve pain and swelling in cases of traumatic injury by activating the local blood circulation. The herb is commonly known as Olibanum, Frankincense, Rǔ Xiānɡ.

 Botanical source: Common herbal classics defined the herb Frankincense (Ru Xiang) as the oleo-gum-resin of the Buseraceae family plant species (1). Boswellia carterii Birdw., (2). Boswellia bhawdajiana Birdw., (3). Boswellia neglecta M. Moore. They are plant species of the Boswellia genus, the Burseraceae family (frankincense family) of the Sapindales order. These 3 commonly used species are introduced:

(1).Boswellia carterii Birdw.

 a tree of Boswellia carterii Birdw grow in arid field Botanical description: Boswellia carterii Birdw is a plant of the Burseraceae family (frankincense family) and Boswellia genus, it is commonly known as Boswellia carterii, Boswellia sacra, or Ru Xiang Shu. A small tree, it grows up to 4~5 meters high, and rarely up to 6 meters high. Trunks are thick, the bark is smooth, pale brownish yellow, and chartaceous (papery), and the bark of thick branches is scaly, and gradually exfoliated.

 a tree of Boswellia carterii Birdw grow in desert Imparipinnate leaves are alternate, 15–25 cm long; 15–21 lobules (folioles), basal lobules are smallest, gradually turning bigger upward, ovate-oblong, up to 3.5 cm long; apical lobules are up to 7.5 cm long, 1.5 cm wide; apex is blunt; base is circular (rounded), subcordate (nearly cordate) or truncated; margin has irregular crenatures or subentire, both surfaces are covered with white hairs; or the upper surface is glabrous.

 Flowers are small, arranged into sparse racemes, inflorescences are shorter than leaves; bracts are ovate, the apex is pointed; the calyx is cyathiform (cuplike), 5-lobed, lobes are triangular-ovate; 5 flower petals, primrose yellow (pale yellow), oval (egg-shaped), alternate with sepals, about two times the length of sepals, the apex is sharp pointed; 10 stamens, inserted on the outside of floral disc (flower disc), filaments are short, slightly longer than floral disc; the floral disc is large, hypertrophic, disc-shaped, rose-red, with 5~10 blunt microdentates; the ovary is superior, grows on a receptacle, surrounded by a disk below the middle, 3~4-loculed, with 2 vertical ovules per style, styles are slightly thicker, slightly beyond stamens; stigma is capitate, slightly 3-lobed.

 bark and resin of Boswellia carterii Birdw. Drupes (drupe fruits) are small, about 1 cm long, obovate, 3-ridged, blunt tip, pericarp is pulpose, hypertrophic, and each cell contains 1 seed. Its flowering period is in April.

 The bark of the frankincense tree is like a piece of paper, and there is juice in the bark. When the resin is dripping from the frankincense wood, it is like an emulsion. The frankincense is produced in the wood. When the bark is cut gently into a small opening then latex (creamy juice) will flow out, and when the juice touches the air it will harden, and then it will become a yellowish-red translucent crystal block.

 Ecological Environment: Boswellia carterii Birdw., grows in tropical coastal mountains. This species is mainly distributed along the Red Sea coast to Libya, Sudan, Turkey, and other areas. It is mainly produced in Somalia and the north of Ethiopia on the Red Sea coast. This species once grew in Fuyang, Anhui Province, China, during the 14th–15th centuries of the Ming Dynasty, but later it disappeared.

 reddish bark and resins of Boswellia carterii Birdw. Legend: Among Greek mystical islands, there is an island called Chios Island. According to legend, the ancient poet Homer was born on this island. The beautiful island is covered with large frankincense trees. The precious frankincense was extracted. The local people called it "God's tears". When the worship ceremony on the island began, people always burned frankincense because they believed that the frankincense smoke could bring their prayers to God. Then happiness will come next year.

 Uses: In ancient times, people used chewing gum as a piece of gum to clean their mouths. In modern times, people used Frankincense as an additive to make foods and cosmetics.

 yellowish herb grains of Frankincense Olibanum It is obtained from the leafy forest tree Boswellia Thurifera, with leaves deciduous, alternate towards the tops of branches, unequally pinnated; leaflets in about ten pairs with an odd one opposite; oblong, obtuse, serrated, pubescent, sometimes alternate; petioles are short. Flowers, white or pale rose on short pedicels in single axillary racemes, are shorter than the leaves. Calyx, small five-toothed, persistent; corolla with five obovate-oblong, very patent petals, pointed at the base, inserted under the margin of the disk; activation is slightly imbricative. 10 stamens, inserted under the disk, are alternately shorter; filaments are subulate, and persistent. Anthers, caducous, oblong. The torus is a cyathiform (cotyloid) disk, succulent, larger than a calyx, and has a crenulated margin. Ovary, oblong, sessile. Style, one caducous, the length of the stamens; stigma is capitate, three-lobed. The fruit is capsular, three-angled and three-celled, three-valved, septicidal, and the valves are hard. Seeds, solitary in each cell, are surrounded by a broad membranaceous wing. Cotyledons are intricately folded multifidly.

 The trees on the somali coast grow, without soil, out of polished marble rocks, to which they are attached by a thick oval mass of substances resembling a mixture of lime and mortar. The young trees furnish the most valuable gum, the older yielding merely a clear, glutinous fluid, resembling copal varnish.

 a colorful drawing of Boswellia Carterii,drawing of whole plant To obtain the Frankincense, a deep, longitudinal incision is made in the trunk of the tree, and below it, a narrow strip of bark 5 inches (12.7 cm) in length is peeled off. When the milk-like juice that exudes has hardened by exposure to the air, the incision is deepened. In about three months, the resin has attained the required degree of consistency, hardening into yellowish 'tears'. The large, clear globules are scraped off into baskets, and the inferior quality that has run down the tree is collected separately. The season for gathering lasts from May until the middle of September, when the first shower of rain puts an end to the gathering for that year.

 As with all essential oils, do not use them undiluted. Do not take internally unless working with a qualified and expert practitioner. Keep away from children. Not for those with epilepsy or who are subject to seizures. Always conduct a skin patch test before using any oil on your skin.

 A dry gum: resin obtained from Boswellia Carterii, Birdwood, with its varieties, and several other species of Boswellia.

 yellowish herb blocks of Frankincense Characters of herbs: The herb is composed of near-spherical or teardrop-like particles or irregular small blocks, 0.5–2 cm long, some of which are agglutinated into lumps, pale yellow, with a slight aquamarine blue (blue-green) or red-brown, and translucent. The texture of the herb is firm and crisp, and the fracture surface is waxy. The herb has an aromatic fragrance; it tastes extremely bitter, when it is chewed then the block is softened into the gum. The herb of a better grade is pale yellow, grainy, translucent, and free of impurities such as sand and bark; the powder is sticky and has an aromatic fragrance.

 Pharmacological actions: ①.analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects; ②.promote the increase of multinucleated white blood cells, accelerate the absorption of inflammation exudate, promote wound healing; ③.reduce pyloric ligation ulcer index and free acidity of gastric juice, reduce the gastric mucosa injury.

 Medicinal efficacy: Activate blood circulation, analgesic therapy, promoting the circulation of Qi, regulating the qi flowing in the channels, restoring menstrual flow, detumescence and promoting granulation, dispel poison. It is indicated for chest pain and cardialgia, epigastric pain, stagnation of Qi and blood, abdominal pain, dysmenorrhea (abdominal pain after menstruation), amenorrhea, postpartum blood stasis, postpartum stabbing pain due to blood stasis, abdominal mass and abdominal pain, rheumatism pain, carbuncle swelling and sore, pyogenic infections, acute appendicitis (periappendicular abscess), unhealing ulcer (ruptured abscess resistant to healing), muscular constricture and spasm, traumatic injury.

 Administration of Olibanum (Rǔ Xiānɡ): 
Reference: Administration Guide of Olibanum (Rǔ Xiānɡ)
TCM Books: ①.Internally:3~5 grams, water decoction, or prepare to pill, powder. Externally:proper amount, prepare to finely ground herb powder, mixed and apply stick; ②.Internally:water decoction, 1~3 qian (about 3~9 grams), or prepare to pill, powder. Externally:prepare to finely ground herb powder, apply stick; ③.Internally:water decoction, 3~10 grams, or prepared to pill, powder. Externally:proper amount, prepare to finely ground herb powder, mixed and apply stick.
 Contraindications,Precautions and Adverse Reactions:the herb Olibanum should be used cautiously during pregnancy, in condition weakness of stomach. Should forbidden using during pregnancy. Should better not use in conditon ulcer and sore broken yet, or with much pus. Should not be used in condition weakness of stomach.

(2).Boswellia bhawdajiana Birdw.

 Botanical description: Boswellia bhawdajiana Birdw is a plant of the Burseraceae family (frankincense family) and Boswellia genus, it is commonly known as Boswellia bhawdajiana, Bao Da Ru Xiang Shu, small trees, branches are covered with white hair or glabrous. 15~21 lobules (leaflets), rectangular-lanceolate, or oblong-lanceolate to rectangular, or oblong, 2~4 cm long, 1~1.5 cm wide; the base is circular (rounded) or truncated, entire or serrated, white hairs grow on both surfaces; or gray felty only on the under surface. Racemes; flowers are white or green, have shallow campanulate (shallow bell-shaped) dense piliferous floral discs, half surround the ovary. When the fruit is immature, it is nearly clavate (hammer-shaped), and the bases turn narrow-stalked.

 Ecological Environment: Boswellia bhawdajiana Birdw grows in mountainous and limestone rocky lands. This species is mainly distributed along the coast of the Red Sea.

(3).Boswellia neglecta M. Moore.

 plant of Boswellia neglecta. with many small green leaves grow in sandy field Botanical description: Boswellia neglecta M. Moore is a plant of the Burseraceae family (frankincense family) and Boswellia genus, it is commonly known as Boswellia neglecta, Wild Boswellia Tree, or Ye Ru Xiang Shu. Small trees, the tree grows up to 5~6 meters high. The bark is gray. 17–21 lobules (leaflets), coriaceous, rectangular or oblong, 1.5~4 cm long, tip is blunt, with hirsute. Panicles; flowers are very small, pale redness of skin, outside is piliferous; the lower part of filaments is suddenly widened and turns scale-like.

 Ecological Environment: Boswellia neglecta M. Moore grows in mountainous and limestone rocky lands. This species is mainly distributed along the coast of the Red Sea.



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