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Ancient "Tigray" Frankincense: An African Favorite through the ages.

Ancient "Tigray" Frankincense:  An African Favorite through the ages.

Boswellia papyrifera, locally known as "Tigray" in Africa, is a truly ancient and special frankincense. 

Tigray was one of the most popular frankincense species in the ancient world. From the Egyptians to the Romans, Tigray was accessible and widely used. In fact, it is known as the "church" frankincense. It has a scent exclusive to its species and its lingering aroma is recognized as that typical "church scent." When it is burnt fresh, the scent reminds me of spring and new life. It has a light airy aroma that has many floral notes and gives the feeling of cleanliness and purity. 

Throughout history, culture after culture has used it. The Babylonians and Assyrians burned it during religious ceremonies while the ancient Egyptians transported entire boatloads of the resins from the Phoenicians and used it as incense, insect repellent, perfume and salves for wounds and sores. It was also the key ingredient in the embalming process. Certain sections of internal organs were removed and filled with frankincense resin by the Egyptians as a sacred rite and to control the unpleasant scent of the passed on vessel. Egyptian woman used the ashes and charcoal from burned frankincense as the famous eyeliner that Egyptian woman were known for. Large amounts were burned with mummies to assist in the afterlife, as well. Queen Hatshepsut, who once ruled Egypt until her death c.480 B.C. had sacks of frankincense and myrrh trees integrated into the murals decorating the walls of a temple dedicated to her.

Tigray, as well as other species of frankincense and myrrh, were also burned as a biting insect deterrent. This actually controlled the spread of malaria in certain sections of Africa in ancient times.  I, myself, use it in the spring and summer to deter pesky mosquitoes that seem to be carrying more and more disease, even here in New England.

I have received a fresh order of high-grade Boswellia papyrifera from Ethiopia recently and if you have not tried it yet, I highly recommend it. It has a wonderful complex aroma and is very affordable. Use it outdoors to deter insects and induce relaxation or indoors to cleanse the air and introduce a fresh spring scent into your home.


Brian Camgemi
Wild Tree Essentials
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Spring Essence! Boswellia Papyrifera

Spring Essence! Boswellia Papyrifera

Finally the warm weather is starting to creep in after the dark days of winter here in the Northeast. Personally I know that when it's warmer and the sun is shining longer every day that my soul starts to become renewed and re-energized.

I look forward to the warm summer nights, barbecuing on the deck with family and friends, watching my son play in the new grass, eating ice cream, hiking trips to the mountains or long hot beach days with the cool Atlantic Ocean as an oasis.

This time of year I like to burn some of my favorite frankincense resins. I personally find that certain species and grades of frankincense compliment the seasons of the year. This time of year it starts with Boswellia papyrifera, which has a nice light clean Spring scent that has subtle hints of light orange and floral tone that is not over- powering in the least. While this species reminds me most of church ceremonies with the lasting fragrance left behind, it also has a deep natural rejuvenating scent.

Every time that I burn it, and when the more feminine tone hits my senses, I feel as though the magic of Mother Nature just infuses my soul and leaves me feeling renewed and whole again, as if the gentle aroma has cleansed my spirit and washed my worries away.

The distribution of Boswellia papyrifera is prolific throughout the the Tigray Province of northern Ethiopia. This resin is referred to locally as "Betekristian" or "Kerbe Itan" meaning "Church Incense."The trade name is "Tigray Frankincense" and the Amharic name for the tree is "Walya Meker." 

Medicinal uses include powerful anti-inflammatory properties that have shown in a recent study to be ten times more anti-inflammatory than the most common species of frankincense resin used, which is Boswellia serrata.  It is also used as a rich, natural perfume in indoor and outdoor living spaces. Resins from Africa have been used for thousands of years regionally and are still used by locals in spiritual ceremonies, medicinally and as home incense.​ 

In the New England Spring and Summer evenings biting insects, mainly mosquitoes, are a serious nuisance. Growing up, they were simply a pain but now they seem to carry more and more transferable illnesses to humans every year. After learning years ago that in Africa they specifically use Boswellia neglecta as an insect repellent (I will be doing a newsletter soon on this species) I thought I would try other grades as well.

Boswellia payrifera works very, very well as well. Instead of plastering your family and young ones with conventional insect repellent that contain potentially dangerous chemicals, simply burn some frankincense. B. neglecta works the best, but I find that B. papyrifera has a lighter, more rejuvenating, aroma that is pleasing to all and is a fantastic, effective option for keeping those pesky insects away. 

So enjoy the warm weather, burn some high grade frankincense and relax!! You deserve it!

Stay tuned for next post!

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