Tag Archives: frankincense

Traveling the Frankincense Trail

Gary at the camp in the Empty Quarter which stretches over 250,000 miles covering parts of Oman, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
Gary at the camp in the Empty Quarter which stretches over 250,000 miles covering parts of Oman, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

My travels around the world have been numerous over the last 30 years, looking for plants, looking for growers, and developing farms in order to get what we want for Young Living.

Why did the three magi take frankincense and myrrh to the Christ child?

There was an obvious reason why it was Boswellia sacra frankincense that traveled all the way from what is present-day Oman, then through the Hadhramaut, all the way through the Empty Quarter to Bethlehem—it grows in Southern Arabia. Boswellia carterii grows primarily in Somalia, where I was in November 2013.

Here I’m standing at the Empty Quarter camp when I was studying the Frankincense Trail and just doing general research on the history of frankincense and trees.

Choosing frankincense samples from a Salalah, Oman, shop to take back to the laboratory for testing.
Choosing frankincense samples from a Salalah, Oman, shop to take back to the laboratory for testing.

This photo was in the marketplace in Salalah, Oman. I go there every time I go to see what they’re selling, what they’re trading. I got some of my first samples here that I brought back for testing and analyzing.

Frankincense and Enzyme Blueprints

Gary and Mahmoud Suhail
Gary and Dr. Mahmoud Suhail at the Young Living farm and distillery in Salalah, Oman.

The other day Dr. Suhail and I were talking about frankincense, and he asked me if I knew something that I wasn’t telling him, and I said, “Well, I’ll tell you my feeling. Frankincense does not kill abnormal cells.”

He replied, “Well, Gary, I’m seeing the evidence of it every day.”

I told him that what he is seeing is an illusion and that frankincense does not kill anything, because God did not create it to kill. Instead, frankincense digests abnormal cells (breaks them down).

He came up out of his chair and exclaimed, “I knew it; I knew it! Frankincense digests abnormal cells!”

Dr. Edward Close made a similar statement. He said, “Thieves does not kill fungus; Thieves digests fungus.” So, what does it take to digest? Enzymes.

Enzymatic “blueprints” are in every essential oil, so some of the components in an oil will cause the blueprints of the enzymes to direct the traffic. We don’t know if it’s the smaller amounts of boswellic acid or incensole or a combination of the pinenes and the sesquiterpenes that are directing the enzymatic activity of frankincense in targeting abnormal cells. We don’t have the answer yet, but one day we will know.

And so again, are essential oils invaluable to human beings? Absolutely.

French Lavender: In Great Distress

lavender field in Mona, UT
Sunset at the Mona, Utah, lavender farm

What would I do if I couldn’t get pure essential oils? How do I know if the essential oils I am buying are pure? How can I know the origin and the species of the oil I am buying? Does this mean that I need to question whether all the oils I may be buying that I am told are pure are actually pure? Because the salesperson and the promotional literature say so, does that make it so?

These are the questions that every person representing, selling, buying, or using essential oils should be asking. If you buy an oil from a broker who tells you it is pure, does it guarantee that it is? Absolutely not! Many essential oils come from countries far away from us, and visiting the distilleries could be very difficult.

An essential oil such as frankincense is one where people can easily be deceived. Even if you were to go to Oman and buy directly from the market in Salalah, the land of frankincense, could you be guaranteed that you are buying pure Boswellia sacra frankincense? Absolutely not!

But, you could more easily travel to France to see fields of lavender being harvested and distilled, or could you? That certainly was possible in years past, and tens of thousands of visitors have done just that. But what is happening today in France? Lavender, one of the world’s most favored essential oils, is currently in great distress. Many difficult circumstances surround this beautiful oil, and if you go to France today and buy directly from a producer, does this guarantee that you are buying 100 percent pure Lavandula angustifolia—pure lavender essential oil? Absolutely not!

Part 3: Finding Pure Essential Oils

herbal pharmacy at clinic
Herbal pharmacy at clinic

At home that night, I began reading and did not stop until 3 a.m. I could not sleep from the excitement I felt about this new discovery! The study was made by several researchers who found certain essential oils to have anti-infectious properties, anti-inflammatory properties, and immune-supporting actions. In fact, the study described how the essential oils could increase the uptake of oxygen and the delivery of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) to the cells.

I reread and highlighted the research until 6 a.m. As soon as I felt it wasn’t too early, I picked up the phone and dialed the number Annemarie had left on the back page. She answered the phone on the first ring and said, “Dr. Young, I was expecting you to call. What did you think?”

I told her that I found the information fascinating and that it made a lot of sense. I then asked the million dollar question, “Where can I learn more?”

Just seven days later, I was sitting in a classroom in the medical department at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, attending a 40-hour seminar on the chemistry of essential oils and their function and action against infection and immune support. The course was taught by Jean Claude Lapraz, M.D., and Paul Duraffourd, M.D.

Following the conference, I traveled to Paris to spend a week with Dr. Lapraz to learn even more about essential oils. Before returning to the U.S., I purchased 1 liter each of 13 different essential oils: frankincense, myrrh, lavender, thyme, oregano, peppermint, lemon, rosemary, marjoram, basil, mountain savory, ravensara, and hyssop. And so began my journey into a new frontier: the study of real plant medicine.

To be continued . . .

The One Gift

The One Gift by Gary YoungI am so pleased at how well my book, The One Gift, was received. I never dreamed we’d be headed to a second printing so quickly!

Writing historical fiction can be difficult, but it seems that the story I wrote has kept a few of you reading until the wee hours of the morning—even though I wove factual history into the storyline.

On one of my trips to Oman in 2009, I interviewed the world-renowned archaeologist Yuri Zarins. I asked him about the ancient canal that linked the River Nile in Egypt with the Red Sea. He seemed surprised that I knew about this canal. There’s not much about the frankincense region that I haven’t studied.

There is a kidnapping in my book and the lead character, Shutran, thinks fast about why the people were kidnapped and where to ambush them. “These pirates are after slaves to sell to the Pharaoh in Egypt . . . the pirates will take the slaves and a few horses and head to Aila to put them on a boat to go up the Red Sea, taking the canal over to the Nile, and sailing up to Luxor.”

I was able to document that waterway existed anciently. A study by Carol A. Redmount, The Wadi Tumilat and the “Canal of the Pharaohs,” was published in the Journal of Near Eastern Studies, and Alan B. Lloyd’s “Necho and the Red Sea: Some Considerations” was published in the Journal of Egyptian Archaeology. The One Gift is a fictional tale of caravans but because it’s based on historical fact, reading it will be like traveling back in time!