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Jun '23

The Benefits of Luban (Frankincense) and How to Use it for Health and Beauty

Luban (frankincense) is most well known for its use as an incense, but it has also been prized for health and beauty reasons for thousands of years. So what are the benefits of luban, and how can you enjoy them?

Benefits of Luban

Luban has a diverse range of benefits. Benefits of taking luban internally include:

  • Improving memory.
  • Preventing arthritis.
  • Anti-inflammatory.
  • Preventing and treating cancer.
  • Improve digestion.
  • Treat osteoarthritis.
  • Stabilize blood sugar levels.
  • Good source of dietary fiber.
  • Relieve acid reflux (heartburn).
  • Strengthening immune system.
  • Removing renal stones.

If chewed, luban also freshens the breath.

Applying luban externally also has a range of benefits:

  • Moisturizing skin.
  • Anti-aging properties. 
  • Antiseptic.
  • Astringent.
  • Antibacterial. 
  • Preventing dandruff.
  • Moisturizing hair.

When burned, luban can provide the following benefits:

  • Relieve symptoms of asthma. 
  • Improve air quality.
  • Relieve anxiety and improve mood. 
  • Expel pests and insects.
  • Kill viruses.

Types of Luban

The first thing to know about luban is the different types. Luban comes from three main regions; NigeriaSomalia, and Oman. Omani luban is generally regarded as the highest quality. 

There are two main grades of luban; incense grade and medical grade. Medical grade is green or white in color, while incense grade is more likely to be yellow or dark brown.

When it comes to Omani luban, there are two main types; Najdi, and Hojary. Hojary comes from an area called Samhan mountain and typically has a lower moisture content than Najdi, and so has stronger flavor and more concentrated benefits. 

Below: An example of high grade incense luban.

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Below: An example of green male (dhakr akhdhar) medical grade luban.


How to Use Luban for Health

Once you have selected a high quality, clean luban, it’ time to use it. 

There are two main ways to ingest raw luban; by soaking it in water or chewing it. You can also ingest high quality oil, while lower quality oils are appropriate for external application. 

Water extraction

Soaking luban in water increases the potency of the beneficial compounds by making them easier for your body to absorb. 

To do a water extraction,

  1. simply take a glass or bottle of water,
  2. place a few pieces of green male (dhakr akhdhar) luban in it.
  3. Then, leave it covered overnight or longer. 
  4. The water should become cloudy by the next day. For the strongest effect, drink the water in the morning on an empty stomach, or throughout the day as you like.

You can still eat the pieces of luban left in the bottom of the glass or bottle. 


Chewing is more convenient than water extraction, but more convenient. Simply pop a piece of luban into your mouth like chewing gum, and chew on it as long as you like When finished, swallow it. 

Skin care

Cloudly luban water made by the water extraction method can also be used for skin care. Simply take some of the luban water and rub it onto your skin. 

Alternately, normal grade luban oil can also be used for skin care. 

Burning Luban

There is some special technique for having an optimal luban burning experience. 

Choose a good charcoal

First, choose a good type of charcoal. A hardwood tree is a good choice. Usually, a type of wood that is good for cooking (like fruit trees, apple, cherry, or mango) is also good for burning luban. Coconut fiber charcoal works great.

Even though it’s more convenient, it’s better to avoid self-starting charcoal if you can. This charcoal contains chemicals which can be harmful, and remember, you’re buring luban for its health benefits!

Get a good incense burner (mabkhara)

Having a good burner to place your charcoal makes burning luban much easier and safer. The incense holder should be made of a non-flammable material like clay or metal. It’s helpful if it has a handle. That way, you can move it around the house to fumigate different areas. 

Below: a traditional Omani incense burner

Ignite the coal and make sure it is burning well

Now, light the coal. If it is not a self-starting coal, you could do this on a gas stove top. Alternately, you could use a jet lighter. If it is a self-starting coal disk, a normal lighter or match will work fine. 

You will know that the coal is hot enough when the outer layer turns light grey.

Place the luban on the coal

Once it’s hot enough, you can place the luban on the coal and enjoy the beautiful, soothing odor. After burning it for a while, you may want to use tongs to turn or adjust it on the coal. This can avoid the burnt odor which sometimes comes at the end of burning luban, and release the odor from the unburned part on the top. 

Tip: Place the incense burner under your clothes to disinfect them and fill them with a beautiful odor when you wear them.

What to do with luban ashes

Luban ashes have very high nutrient contents, so they make a great fertilizer for house plants. You can also use the ashes to wash your hands, as they have strong disinfectant properties. 

Some people ask if you can burn medical grade luban. The answer is yes, you can, but it would be very expensive! In terms of incense, medical grade luban does not have much more benefits than incense grade, so it doesn’t really make sense. It does smell great though.


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