Frankincense or Olibanum is an aromatic resin used in skincare and perfumes; the word is from Old French franc encens meaning high-quality incense. It is obtained from trees of the genus Boswellia in the family Burseraceae, particularly Boswellia sacra, B. carterii, B. frereana, B. serrata and B. papyrifera. There are five main species of Boswellia that produce true frankincense. The resin from each of the five is available in various grades, which depend on the time of harvesting. Then, the resin is hand-sorted for quality.
Frankincense is precious, the trees start producing resin at about eight to 10 years old. Tapping is done two to three times a year with the final taps producing the best tears due to their higher aromatic terpene, sesquiterpene and diterpene content. Generally speaking, the opaquer resins are the best quality. Finest resin is produced in Somalia, from which the Roman Catholic Church purchases most of its stock. Terpenes are natural compounds to relax and decrease cortisol levels in the human body.