My friend just started taking chemo for colon liver cancer and she was taking therapeutic Sacra Frankincense from Young Living before she started. I read somewhere that you should not take the essential oil with 5FU if you are taking it for skin cancer because it will drive it in the skin deeper and make the chemo 10 times greater. That sounded good to me, but for some reason they say not to use Frankincense with 5FU. Since she has colon liver cancer, and not skin cancer, should she just rub it on her feet and side, stop taking it, or take it internal, or not at all. I am not sure how to direct her at this time, but she has heard so much good about the Sacra Frankincense killing the cancer cells. Any help or suggestions would be welcomed and appreciated. Also, have you heard anything about stopping essential oils when you are on chemo. Someone also said, stop 2 days before your treatment and then start back 9 days later. My friend takes chemo for three days in a row using a pump and then 14 days later she starts again, so it gives her no time to use her oils.

My thanks,
Patti F.

Hi Patti,

Many essential oils have protective & antioxidant effects on our cells, and there is a reasonable chance that they will do the same for cancer cells – protect them from the chemotherapy – which of course would not be a good thing. This opinion is shared by many. It probably sounds odd – you’re thinking that frankincense oil should kill cancer cells and not protect them – but the only evidence for killing cancer cells (apart from one skin cancer report) comes from a few lab tests when high concentrations were used.

Moderate amounts of EO will not kill cancer cells, but could protect them. And taking large amounts of essential oil could very well interfere with the chemotherapy itself, by increasing or decreasing the concentration of drug-metabolizing enzymes in the liver. By causing a chemo drug to be metabolized more quickly, you reduce the duration of its effect. On the other hand if you inhibit its metabolism you reduce the efficacy of the drug. Neither of these is desirable, and chemo drugs are very carefully dosed for each patient.

For all these reasons, I suggest avoiding essential oils for one week before until one month after chemotherapy. After that time, frankincense oil may help with recovery of white blood cells, as also spearmint, dill and other essential oils.

Incidentally, almost all of the research on frankincense and cancer is on the extract, which contains boswellic acid, and not the essential oil, which does not. Frankincense extracts contain around 50% boswellic acid, which is a widely-studied antitumoral agent. However, getting such remedies to the target site in sufficient concentration to be effective is a challenge.


Thank you so much for the info and for taking the time to help in this matter. I will let her know to immediately stop the Frankincense until she is finished with the chemo.


Learn more about Frankincense essential oil and cancer here: http://tisserandinstitute.org/frankincense-oil-and-cancer-in-perspective/

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