An Arabic Adventure with Sacred Frankincense


In 2013, I had one of the most amazing adventures of my life. I visited Oman with Gary Young, the founder of Young Living. Of all the many things I experienced there, two things really stood out.

The first was the opportunity to plant a Sacred Frankincense tree in the small garden that sits beside the Young Living distillery in Muscat, Oman.

The planting of that baby tree still brings me to goosebumps. How many people can claim to have planted a Sacred Frankincense tree in Oman? Now that’s a bucket list activity!!!

The second thing that moved me beyond words was a journey we took into the desert, to see one of Gary’s archeological discoveries. That’s right – he made a discovery!!! I was thrilled to be part of this story, and I want to share it with you here…

One man’s Determination, and a profound discovery….

Prior to first visiting Oman, Gary had read about Wadi Andhur. “Wadi” is the Arabic word for a valley or ravine, which in the wet season becomes a watercourse. Wadi Andhur is located along an ancient Camel Caravan route, which was used for the transport of Frankincense resin and many other wares during the reign of the Kings and Queen of Sheba.

Gary knew that there had to be a way station somewhere along this section of the Camel Caravan route, but he was assured by archaeologists at the historical museum that no such way station existed.

For anyone who knew Gary, he never listened to other people’s “stories”. He had a powerful link to his own intuition and spiritual guidance, and a deep connection to Source. He often talked about his “Owner’s Operator’s Manual” when referring to the Bible. When he knew something to be true, no man (or woman) could convince him otherwise. It’s this determination of Spirit that made Gary Young a true pioneer in the world of essential oils.

I still remember listening to Gary as he told this story.

He knew a way station must exist, and he knew it would be located nearby to water. So he identified all the areas of green on the maps, which would indicate that an oasis or pocket of forest existed inside this mass of desert.

For 16 years, every time Gary returned to Arabia he searched a different oasis looking for the way station.

He knew it existed. He just had to find it!!!

It was in 2009 that he finally made his discovery. Here, high on a plateau near Wadi Andhur and hidden from view of anyone passing below, he found it!!! And in 2013, he took a group of his Diamond leaders (myself included) to show us his discovery.

I still remember the hours and hours in a hot 4WD vehicle, driving into the vast barren landscape of this desert. It was definitely 4WD terrain!

Then we arrived at the oasis. Suddenly, the landscape transformed. The dry and barren plains gave way to a rich oasis of palms and greenery….I still remember all the photographs I took of the goats that called this oasis home.

Gary led us up onto the plateau, and this was a site to behold. We had panoramic views of the surrounding land.

There, carved into the hill top, was a rectangular-shaped sandstone chamber about the size of a bath tub (see pic below). This was an ancient frankincense distillation chamber, and it was Gary Young himself who had made this archeological discovery!

In the days of the Kings and Queens of Sheba when the Camel Caravans trailed across the horizon, frankincense resin would be brought to this hilltop and distilled. They didn’t have any fancy equipment like the boilers we use today, so they used what nature gave them – a scorching sun, and water from the Wadi. They simply filled the sandstone bath tub with water and frankincense resin, and they allowed the heat of the Omani sun to slowly and gently distill the resin and extract the Frankincense essential oil.

And that’s how Frankincense essential oil was made, thousands of years ago!

But where does the Frankincense resin come from? 

It’s simple. The bark of the Sacred Frankincense tree (Boswellia sacra) is scraped, and a white sap oozes out to protect the tree and seal the cut (see picture below). This sap hardens into a whitish coloured resin, which is then collected and distilled.

Nowadays, any essential oil that comes from resin (such as Frankincense and Myrrh) is extracted using a process called hydrodistillation. In order to preserve the magic present in the essential oil, this hydrodistillation needs to take place at low temperature and low pressure, otherwise many of the hundreds of fragile constituents are destroyed by the heat.

In the book D. Gary Young: The World Leader in Essential Oils, Mary Young describes how the present-day extraction chamber contains an agitator that slowly spins. As it does so, it grinds and stirs the resin. Mary (quoting Gary) goes on to say that:

“Approximately one fourth of the chamber is filled with the resin and then filled half way with water. The agitating action continues with about 100 degrees Celsius (212 F) of heat for 10 to 12 hours, melting down the resin and releasing the oil vapor into the water that is carried upward with the steam, passing into the condenser, and then flowing into the separator, which is very similar to normal steam distillation.”

We had the pleasure on our trip to Oman of meeting Dr. Suhail, M.D. Being an Omani citizen, he is Young Living’s partner for the Arabian Frankincense Distillery, and has himself been responsible for a great deal of research into Sacred Frankincense oil.

“People think that there is a certain amount of time that you should distil Frankincense for,” he said. “This is not true – it’s not about the distillation time, it’s about the end yield. Frankincense needs at least a 9.5% essential oil yield. So you keep cooking the resin until you get that yield.”

Young Living has two types of Frankincense oil available for purchase. One is Sacred Frankincense (Boswellia sacra). The other is Boswellia carterii, which is sold simply under the name “Frankincense Essential Oil”. They are relatives of each other, and very similar in their properties. I’ve often wondered what the difference is between them. Dr. Suhail helped explain this, when he shared that in his experience, Sacred Frankincense is 20% more potent than Boswellia carterii. So when in doubt, reach for your Sacred Frankincense oil…or explore the beautiful synergy of combining these two amazing types of Frankincense oil.

Would you love to know the benefits of Frankincense oil?

Once every 4 weeks on my spiritual platform “Raw Divinity”, I’m doing a segment called “Oil Love”. You’ll see my very first Oil Love blog come out next week. If you want to learn more about the emotional and spiritual benefits of essential oils like Frankincense, and if you love the topic of plant and animal wisdom and spiritual insights, please follow me there (as well as here at The Oil Temple). You’ll also see some fabulous recipes, tips and amazing facts posted on Raw Divinity’s Instagram and Facebook. So if you love essential oils, follow me on both.


Think you might like to try some Sacred Frankincense oil?

Here’s how to order….

If you already have your own wholesale account with Young Living, you can order through the shopping cart on your virtual office, or via phone with your local Young Living office.

If it’s been more than 12 months since you’ve ordered, or if you’ve never set up an account, please reach out to the person who introduced you to Young Living. You will need their member number when you place your first order.

If you have lost touch with them, or need any other assistance, we are here to help. Simply contact us, and we’ll be in touch to assist you and help answer your questions.

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