#ReadersResponses: Across the Middle East and the rest of the world, Oman has always had a name as a place of great renown during ancient times. One of the symbols of Oman that has endured through the ages, and continues to be a hallmark of the Sultanate's tradition, culture and prosperity, is frankincense. The plants that bear this treasured resin thrive in the Dhofar region of the country, and residents of the nation are proud of the history it has given them, for during the heyday of the ancient world, frankincense was worth its weight in gold.
And then some.
"Frankincense I think reflects Oman's culture perfectly well, just like how the people of Oman are modest and love being close to nature," said Shagufta Aziz, rather fittingly. "Frankincense is absolutely natural and unique. "It can turn a casual evening stroll in the lanes of Oman into a relaxing walk with its soothing aroma," she added. "No wonder it's used as essential oil in aromatherapy for health benefits and other medicinal purposes. It's not just the aroma which will make you fall in love with it, but it’s full of medicinal properties as well.
"If you were to consider all of these wonderful qualities, you will not even know when you fell in love with this aroma and you will actually look forward to it in the evenings," she added. "This is why we must all do our part to save the frankincense trees."
This was a sentiment shared by Elizabeth Joseph, another resident of the Sultanate. "Its pleasant smell always provides a sense of calm and a soothing effect," she told Times of Oman. "Frankincense, which also comes in the form of oil, has many health benefits, like reducing stress and anxiety. "It also reduces pain and inflammation, helps boost immunity and also helps fight cancer," she added.
"The frankincense tree grows in the harshest conditions, where the milky white substance from the bark of the tree hardens into orange brown gum which is commonly known as frankincense. These are used for religious purposes as well. It was quite clear, then, that this humble resin meant much to the people of Oman.
"There’s nothing nicer than to walk into a house or building where it has recently been burnt," said Caroline Wareham, as Carmen Stork added, "when I smell this, I feel a sense of freedom inside me. It feels like home to me, and we used it after the New Year, to clean my house on the first of January."
"It is more precious than gold to the people of Oman," exclaimed Shahab Siddiqui. "In ancient times, Oman was the trade centre for the world’s supply of frankincense. It is unfortunate that these centres now no longer exist, but that says all you need to know about it."
While frankincense may have many uses, Trygve Harris has found yet another for it: She created a recipe for frankincense ice cream in Oman, and it is available for customers at her Enfleurage boutique in Salalah.
"Essential oils can be used in flavouring usually, and I was experimenting," she recalled. "It was a friend, who told me about her grandmother's ice cream-in-a-blender recipe and we tried it with frankincense.
"It was strange, but very good, in a completely unexpected way. Frankincense has a lot of herbal, pine-like green notes, with a little orange spice, and this goes really well in a rich dairy product," added Harris. "The cooling pine and mint notes are perfectly balanced in the cold creaminess."
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No wonder it's used as essential oil in aromatherapy for health benefits and other medicinal purposes.