I remember so well the day my mom confided in me how much it embarrassed her that she was forgetting words when out walking with her friends. My mother was a sweet, light-hearted, silly, affectionate woman and all of a sudden, in the space of less than a year, her health started to rapidly deteriorate. She went from being a healthy, active middle-aged woman to a (still) silly and affectionate woman , but who could no longer open doors with knobs that needed to be twisted instead of pulled straight. And she was losing her ability to articulate her thoughts, which was even sadder to watch and I'm sure much more difficult to experience, especially for someone who loved people as much as she did. Alzheimer's is a treacherous thief and I knew I couldn't "save" the belongings in her mind, but I wanted to help her to continue to enjoy socializing for as long as possible.
As a consulting herbalist and nutritionist I knew that Frankincense resin was highly acknowledged for memory and brain function. I had also seen it successful at mobilizing speech for two of my young autistic clients. So, I looked at Frankincense to help my mom to reclaim her brain functions, especially to find the words to express herself again. I'm so glad that I did!
Frankincense has several attributes that point to why it is good for the brain.
Voila! Here I'd found something that not only had the potential to cross into the brain, but to reduce inflammation in the brain, and also improve cellular function in the brain. With the young autistic clients I'd recommended frankincense to, incredibly, one talked for the first time the day after his first application and the other sang for the first time the same week after his! Both mothers applied Frankincense topically from the base of their children’s necks down their spines. This oil has promise!
What's more... The American Medical Association has said that , "If they could find an agent that would pass the blood-brain barrier, they would be able to find cures for ailments such as Lou Gehrig’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease."
Feeling that I was on the right track, I dug through my herbal books and without much effort found that 4-5 drops of Frankincense could be taken in a capsule 2-3 times daily to support brain function. Taking essential oils orally wasn't new to me, but I wanted to take every safety precaution with my mother because she was frail and more sensitive than me. So I followed all of the safety guidelines for ingesting essential oils.
With a little trial and error, my dad and I started making my mom what she called her "talking pills". The change was heart-warming. She was more articulate and talkative sometimes and more mindfully pensive at others. She was more capable of everyday tasks. It was like each time she took a pill she leveled-up a step from wherever she was in her downhill progression. We got a little more quality time with her and she got more quality out of her time.
The tree resin from which Frankincense essential oil is derived was traditionally used for many things, including as a preservative for embalming, but I think of Frankincense more as a preservative for those still living! The "talking pills" didn't stop the disease or make it less sad, but they did improve my mom's quality of life.
Frankincense is a sacred tree resin with much to benefit from its many qualities. If you'd like to learn more, check out my webinars and other blog articles on this cherished plant.
Stephanie McBride is a published writer and certified clinical herbalist who has worked with herbal medicine for over 20 years. She has been in practice as a functional nutritionist and essential oil educator for Daily Nectar since 2009.