Doug Corrigan: Welcome to the latest in our educational series, we’re very excited about the session we have for you today. I’m Doug Corrigan, the Training Director at Young Living Essential Oils, and I’m joined today by Senior Researcher Karen Boren. Hello, Karen.
Karen Boren: Hi there.
Doug: Karen joins us with a great history and background. Many of you know Karen and she’s joined us before on our program. Today is an especially great day to be a part of Young Living! Over nearly 2 decades, Young Living has earned a reputation as the world’s leader in essential oils. Of course you know that, and we’ve done it by delivering pure essential oils to hundreds and thousands of people who would have never experienced them before. We’ve accomplished this furthermore through innovation and cultivation, distillation and application, and especially through vigilance in our research and discovery, and of course through global expansion. Anyone who is willing to make a serious study on this topic will invariably come to the conclusion that no other essential oil company delivers the breadth of essential oil options nor the depth of essential oil quality, and most importantly serves so many people. Our leadership in this area takes great effort to obtain, and even greater vigilance to sustain, because nowhere has this been demonstrated more fully than with our intense focus – maybe I can even use the word obsession – regarding one of the plant kingdom’s most legendary and remarkable gifts. I’m talking of the frankincense tree. On this topic we have the privilege of having you with us today, Karen; someone who has spent many thousands of hours studying, researching, and writing about this remarkable plant; even traveling many times to the Middle East and even having the opportunity to accompany Gary Young on one of his visits to the Middle East. Through all of this you’ve become a trusted resource for Gary, and of course for the greater Young Living family at large. I have no trouble saying that you are a tremendous frankincense expert, Karen, and we are very happy to have you with us today.
Karen: I am so excited to be here, just because it is such a fascinating topic.
Doug: Yes it is a fascinating topic, one of great import for us healthwise, but also of interest for us historically. I know I speak for many when I say thank you for the impressive and enlightening presentation you recently gave at the Orlando Convention. We’re excited to have you share more of the same with us today. Young Living distributors, Karen, have been riding an impressive momentum that resulted with the launching of Young Living Sacred Frankincense at last year’s Grand Convention. This marked the first time for any Westerners to be able to experience this unique Sacred Frankincense essential oil and we continue to hear story after story about this renewed enthusiasm and interest, not just over Sacred Frankincense but it’s really given resurgence to our original Frankincense as well.
One of the things I’m really excited about is that I recently came back from a trip where we were able to introduce Sacred Frankincense to the European market; it was exciting to be a part of that product launch, now that essential oil is going around the globe. Until Young Living negotiated that partnership with the Omani government, no Omani frankincense had ever left the country unless purchased by Saudi royals – is that right, Karen?
Karen: That’s right, and I think there may have been someone who got a small amount of oil, but it was carried out in a purse. It was not exported. Really, Young Living was the very first to export it in literally over 1,000 years.
Doug: In your mind, Karen, how does this facilitating of Sacred Frankincense to the global markets rank amongst Gary’s many achievements?
Doug: That’s impressive, that’s rare company indeed. Now as Young Living audiences know, Sacred Frankincense (or what botanists call Boswellia sacra) was not the first frankincense product offered, and the interest in Sacred Frankincense has really caused a resurgence in frankincense at large, and also our Boswellia carteri species of frankincense. Now talk to us a little bit about why Young Living is offering both of these.
Karen: There’s a theory that at one time all of the land was together; I think it’s called Gondwanaland, and over time the continents separated. Part of Africa was at one time hooked to Southern Arabia. It’s amazing, interesting, and fascinating to me to see how 2 species that are very, very similar grew in different places over time and there are just subtle differences. In fact they are so subtle that most of the botanists and most of the governmental agencies believe that they’re the same plant; that carteri is a synonym for sacra. But as Young Living scientists have recently proven, they are different. It’s amazing to me how the effect is different for different people; you may be drawn to one or the other, you may use one for one instance and use the other for something different.
Doug: That’s what I’ve noticed as well, the stories that we’ve heard back really speak to different uses for different situations and different needs, and really different individuals. As botanists have taught us for a long time, where a plant grows and what it encounters as it grows really has a lot to do with its makeup both medicinally and otherwise. We can see that even though they’re very similar; with one growing in one place and another growing in another region there are different little intricacies and it’s fascinating. What has been a fascinating thing for me is to see the therapeutic differences when people have tried them both.
For many years, tens of thousands of enthusiastic users have enjoyed great success using our Frankincense product, Boswellia carteri. Karen, is it safe to say that these two species are highly regarded as the frankincense of the ancient traditions and the traditional spiritual oils of Biblical times?
Karen: The funniest thing about this is that it isn’t just a popular opinion, but literally there were archeologists who discovered frankincense samples that had been stored in a place in Southern Arabia, actually in Yemen at a port that was called Cana. They’ve been able to identify that frankincense was sent from this port because it has a specific volcanic rock that they used as ballast, so they would find that ballast in China, in India, and other places where frankincense was carried by the ships. When they tested this, they tested it with a number of current frankincense species, and they said “Okay what we found in this storage place, and also in the temple ruins in Cana, was not papyrifera and it was not frereana, but it is either sacra or carteri.” This to me tells us that one of those two is the one that was taken from the Middle East all the way to be given to the Christ child.
Doug: Fascinating. No matter what your religious persuasion, that is a fascinating thing to think about.
Now there are many folk remedies and medicines out there in the world and we constantly read about the different remedies used in ancient times. Many times the remedies that they used back then either don’t stand the test of time, or under the scrutiny of modern science many times they don’t live up to their legendary reputation. What seems so exciting about frankincense is that what we are seeing with the widespread use and all the research that’s forthcoming about frankincense is that we may actually be dealing with an ancient remedy whose current scientific reality outweighs its legendary reputation. Is that safe to say with frankincense?
Karen: I think it’s absolutely safe to say. When you go to the National Library of medicine, PubMed, you will see that there are 63 specific scientific studies that have been done on frankincense, and by the way Young Living has copies of all 63 in our library. It seems to have a tremendous effect in studies because it doesn’t have adverse effects. It’s able to accomplish things without harming the body. In fact there is a study done by H.K. Lin where they discovered that frankincense had the ability to detect the difference between a normal cell and a cell that was not normal, and it would only go after and eradicate the cell that was not normal. That cannot be said about chemotherapy or radiation; those just kill everything.
Doug: So this has an inherent intelligence about it. You used the word fascinating earlier and I think that is fascinating; a natural product that has an intelligence to know what is normal and what is healthy and to affect that positively, not to harm that; but yet to know what has mutated or is out of line and to go after that and try to correct that. That is a fascinating idea.
Now the increased use of frankincense is yielding insights to this plant medicine that is giving us an understanding and a current reality that seems to exceed its already stellar reputation. Karen, tell us why this is happening.
Karen: What’s been really exciting for me as part of Young Living is to be able to interview researchers and to hear from their mouths exactly what they’re doing and how excited they are about the ability of frankincense, number one to moderate abnormal cells. For instance, Dr. Mahmoud Suhail said that frankincense has a reset function; it can tell the cell what the right DNA code should be. What a marvelous thing!
Then also there is the ability of frankincense to moderate the inflammatory response so that it is normal and doesn’t get tipped the other way. That is huge, particularly with aging. People will certainly recognize that having a normal response is something they will really appreciate as they get older.
What is so marvelous is the fact that frankincense has an effect on the nervous system and the brain that we’ve never understood before. People have guessed it, they’ve thought it, but it has now been proven and that is so amazing; particularly amazing because we don’t understand the stress that we are under in our lives today and the damage that it does to our bodies. The American Institute of Stress suggested that between 75% and 90% of all the primary care physician visits came from stress-related disorders. Research has shown that fear – and you can think about fear when you’re driving on the freeway and the crazy drivers, and just all the things that could happen – it said that fear triggers more than 1400 known physical and chemical responses and it activates more than 30 different hormones and neurotransmitters. So if you’re living in a situation where you’re stressed, things are overwhelming, you are not in a healthy situation and to think that frankincense can impact that is just stunning.
Doug: That is stunning, and these things all seem very critical to our health. You mentioned cellular abnormalities and trying to manage proper cell growth and DNA replication and different things which seem very critical, aging, joint and inflammatory response and it helps to moderate that; and then at the top you said brain and nervous system. I think we are underestimating, in many instances, the stress response and how profoundly that can impact our health. I think it was just the other day that you mentioned a Florida study about managing the stress response, and specifically people who were in a caretaker situation of chronically-ill people?
Karen: That was almost a heartbreaking study. It discussed telomeres; now they’re the little caps on either end of a chromosome and they’re there for a reason because the chromosomes gradually age and the telomere protects the end. But they found that mothers of chronically-ill children had replication of their telomeres impacted to the point that if they looked at the telomeres on the chromosomes of a mother with a chronically-ill child and compared them to one who had normal children who just had measles and colds and flu, they found that the mothers of the chronically-ill children had aged 10 years as compared to the others. We all have different stressors in our lives; it’s really aging. If we’re able to manage the stress our lives can be more productive, happier, and calmer.
Doug: So now connect the dots for us. When we’re talking about frankincense and we know those things are very harmful for our health, probably more profoundly so than most of us imagine, how does frankincense help us in those situations?
Karen: There was an absolutely stunning study that was so amazing that I just tracked article after article because these researchers from Johns Hopkins and Tel Aviv University in Israel discovered that frankincense literally triggers an ion channel in the brain. Now I don’t know ion channels from boo, but I’ll tell you that previously they thought all this particular ion channel did was register temperature. Now they found out that the frankincense triggered the ion channel to calm down anxiety and stress; and if your spirits were low, if you were depressed, if you were unhappy, it lifted the spirits. That was stunning to think that frankincense literally affected the brain, that it was psychoactive.
Doug: This psychoactivity could be just what we need to help manage the stress response; something that travels quickly into the brain and has profound impact in multiple areas of the body.
Karen: I also ran across a study written by a nurse on the management of chronic illness by meditation. To me, meditation and prayer and frankincense are so interwoven. I don’t meditate, I don’t sit in a lotus position, I don’t know how to do that but I do know how to try to calm my mind down and I use Frankincense. That helps me to focus and to calm down. It helps me to manage the stress that I’m under.
Doug: A lot of people think it’s all in your mind, but guess what, if we can impact our mind proactively and productively, that can really have a lot of different cascade effects that help us overall. One of the things you mentioned when we were preparing this presentation that was impressive to me was the work of Dr. Moussaieff.
Karen: He is the one who discovered that frankincense triggered this ion channel in the brain. I thought it was pretty amazing that his study was published in 2008, and in 2009 Marc Schreuder tracked him down and interviewed him. He is just being bombarded; I believe National Geographic is going to be doing a special on him. You may think that this is kind of a small deal but it really isn’t, it’s really impressive science and people are quoting his paper all the time. It made me very proud to think that Young Living cares enough about the science that Marc actually stayed one whole night – he didn’t sleep but he stayed one whole night – in kind of a dingy Turkish airport so that he could make the connection to go and meet with Dr. Moussaieff.
Doug: Part of the outcome of this research was the identification of some new exciting phytochemicals, right?
Karen: Exactly. In fact they found that the ingredients in the incense that cause this activity is called incensole acetate. You may hear that that is not in the essential oil, but we certainly have GC/MS (gas chromatography/mass spectrometry) and other tests like HCLP (high performance liquid chromatography) that show that it is there. Yes, it’s stronger in the incense, if you were to burn the frankincense resin you would get more, but it’s in the essential oil. And what an amazing thing to find out, that this particular constituent has this tremendous effect on the brain.
Doug: So what kind of things will we see when we either burn the incense (Frankincense resin) or aromatically (diffuse); what kind of impact will that have on our health, specifically with regard to the brain and the nervous system?
Karen: If you know that incensole acetate is absolutely going to have a calming and an anti-anxiety effect, and is going to have the effect of lifting the mood and making one happier; to me that can just be a great ray of sunshine and a way to just know that your life can get back on track and you can get through it.
Doug: Those are all great points, and who couldn’t use more of that? We also look at situations where I’ve heard many testimonials about people using this to help them overcome recurring nightmares, to help them strengthen their self-confidence and their self-awareness. The word grounding comes up a lot. One of the things that it’s really well-known for is to increase our connection to the Divine or the infinite. Explain a little bit about how that legend has come about.
Karen: I was quite interested in some of the books that I tracked down and found. There’s a Professor Emeritus at Johns Hopkins University named Dr. Gerhard Luke, and he said that ancient peoples had access to higher states of consciousness than we do today. I think that because our lives are so busy, we have so much on our minds, so many things. I think the letter M for Mother also means Multitask! It just seems that you have to be doing three things at the same time, and it’s hard when you’re that stressed and that busy to get into this higher state of consciousness. A man wrote a book on incense use in ancient Israel and he talked about how the ability of the incense – and of course we know frankincense was the major part of the incense – to bring God down to man, or man up to God. It was the means of connection. I just can’t think of anything more exciting. You may call God by different names, you just may call it peace and calm or a higher power, but know that it’s important for you to be able to have that connection and the peace that comes to you if you can get into that state of consciousness and be calm.
Doug: Yes and we hear that time and time again, that Frankincense can aid people there. We can see stress, anxiety, negative feelings, balancing the mind and emotions, all of those things can be brought into place. I know one of the other things is to help ease the feelings of loss and loneliness. You could really say that it helps us to gain perspective and more of an eternal perspective in our lives. That’s weighty stuff! I think it’s just so exciting to talk about it.
As we start to move forward here, aromatic use is not the only use for Frankincense. This is just the beginning, isn’t it? There are still topical and even oral uses for Frankincense.
Karen: I have friends who believe that dropping several drops of Frankincense oil on the top of the head where the crown chakra is, is very helpful. In this paper on chronic illness they kept using the term “mindfulness;” when you can shut out all the chatter and the noise and just be thinking, you are more aware of your body and you are more aware of what it is that you need, things that need attention. I think Frankincense helps you find that focus.
Doug: I like what you said too, that meditation doesn’t have to be a drawn-out or intense or trained thing where you have to know exactly how to position your body … I mean those things may help and there’s no doubt that there is a ton of tradition in regard to the Eastern traditions of yoga, etc., of which meditation is a central part, and frankincense is often used in that way. But just the idea of meditation being a simple task where we maybe take deep breaths and we add Frankincense to an activity like that, we can start to get an idea of the body as it stands and the status of the body. That seems really important. As we start to apply Frankincense to our body – of course we’re going to aromatically enjoy the benefits as well – what are people really using Frankincense topically for?
Karen: I know some people who have mentioned their little solar spots (they used to be called liver spots but they really have more to do with the sun than they do with anything else) and I have a friend who used it on one of those spots on her face to make it go away. I don’t know; Frankincense is just good for so many things!
Doug: I’ve heard that repeatedly and I know that a lot of people are using Frankincense as an adjunct in their joint formulas, to help moderate discomfort and ease inflammation in some of these areas. Again, what we talked about initially is to modify or manage or bring into balance that inflammatory response, and frankincense is proven very capable in this way. I can see better how that might happen with some of the pathways that we’ve talked about, and how it can affect the cells and the DNA at the very base level, and of course that can have all kinds of cascade effects.
As an inflammatory modulator, a lot of people have really started to see some benefits of taking Frankincense orally. I know you mentioned to me, Karen, that Gary himself takes a capsule of Frankincense every day just as a general maintenance and preventative. I get pretty enthusiastic about this concept when we start to see Frankincense added to formulas like Longevity. We can really see that as a routine oral supplement, Frankincense should be a part of everybody’s day-to-day consumption, as it has really profound effects for our cellular health.
Karen: I don’t know how much he takes in a capsule, but I do know that Gary takes a capsule of Frankincense every day. I take it internally; I just had some today to test out a little formula. It’s almost as though our noses, as Westerners, are almost trained for the really sweet and the spicy, and it takes a little growing. I’ve found that the Sacred Frankincense just calls to me, there’s something about it, it has become my favorite oil.
Doug: Let’s go back to this topic of both frankincense species. They have similar phytochemical properties, maybe similar bioactivity and therapeutic potential. I’m talking about Boswellia carteri and Boswellia sacra species, the ones that Young Living offers. Since its United States introduction, users have gravitated to what I’ve seen as using Sacred Frankincense more for situational and emotional healing, and the carteri species as an everyday, topical, ingestible workhorse. I’ve recommended to people that they experiment with both to find what works best for them. You started off the call by talking a little bit about that; any more counsel in that regard?
Karen: It’s so amazing to me to see that both have been studied; both of them seem to get all of those points, but again it seems to be a personal matter, a preference. For instance, in the study that was in this holistic nursing practice journal, this woman talked about how frankincense “has the ability to strengthen and calm the mind and emotions, and is uplifting to the spirit. Frankincense helps to decrease hyperactivity and restlessness, producing a sense of serenity.” Now either one of those are going to give you that sense of serenity, and either one of those are going to give you that modulation of the inflammatory response, and either one of them are going to give you the DNA-enhancing normal cell support.
Doug: I guess I will stand by my recommendation that those are generally, broadly how people are using them but experiment for yourselves! Find out which one you really respond well to. I know that I’ve had success with both of these personally, both aromatically and topically. One of the topical uses I love for Sacred Frankincense is that anytime I have some discomfort, I’m always applying Frankincense to that. I’ve also had people put it on scars because again it aids greatly in repair, bone spurs and different things like that where people will apply Frankincense; for anything that needs repair and healing, Frankincense should be a part of that formula. There are other oils that you can use in adjunct with that; others might be Helichrysum or Palo Santo, some of the other oils, but Frankincense has a long history of success in those areas.
Based on what you just said, and it kind of takes us back so that this has come full circle, we now see that Frankincense without a doubt has profound impact on the body, mind, and spirit. We hear so many amazing testimonials about Frankincense and it has really just become a phenomenon; a phenomenon in Young Living. The stories just stack up again and again, we could write a volume with all the different experiences and testimonies that we’ve received from our distributors. Do you have any other final comments, Karen?
Karen: I had a friend who was in the Middle East who had some skin blemishes that were concerning. He emailed me to ask if I could help, and I knew a friend who was on her way for a tour of the Middle East, so I sent him a bottle of the carteri with full confidence of knowing that I had something to share that would help him. I can’t think of a sweeter thing than to be able to share all these benefits of Frankincense with people that I love.
Doug: Yes it’s truly a precious gift that you wouldn’t hesitate to share with your best and dearest loved ones. You know with all the encouraging discoveries and applications that seem to be taking place with Frankincense, I can only see this momentum growing and the reputation of Frankincense continuing to grow. I really can’t wait for this next year to see what it will bring, both by the way of the science and all that’s happening there, but also and probably more importantly, the tens of thousands of distributors who are using this remarkable gift and, as you just mentioned, sharing it with others. That’s all we have time for today, but what an honor, what a privilege it’s been to discuss this with you Karen. Thank you again for your time.
Karen: You’re welcome.
Doug: It’s been great to discuss this important topic with you, and on behalf of myself and Karen and all of us here at Young Living, we wish you Godspeed in the good that you do.