With Christmas here, your kids may ask why the three wise men gave baby Jesus frankincense and myrrh along with the gold, according to Christian texts.
“No one really knows,” admits Susan Stype, an aromatherapist from Fort Lauderdale. “Back in the days of Jesus, frankincense and myrrh were most precious for spiritual reasons. They were highly prized and only used in temples and for royalty, so they would be very valuable gifts.”
But another expert believes the gifts of the Magi go beyond the spiritual to something more practical — providing natural healing.
“Frankincense and myrrh both help to heal tears in the skin and scarring,” notes Etsuko Rutz, an Elmwood Park, Ill.-based fellow of the International Federation of Aromatherapists. “So we think they were not given to Jesus but his mother Mary to help her heal from childbirth.”
In any case, frankincense and myrrh are resins derived from the sap of trees that grow in the Arabian Peninsula, East Africa, and India. And they’ve been cherished for both their spiritual qualities and healing powers for more than 5,000 years.
Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics proclaim that frankincense “can cure anything from gout to a broken head.” And the two aromatic resins were the region’s most valuable commodities with a trade network that stretched across Africa, Asia, and Europe. In fact, camels were first used as beasts of burden to transport them.
Nearly every religion burned the resins in their ceremonies, and they were commonly used for perfume, incense, insect repellant and a salve for wounds and sores. Egyptian women made a powder out of burnt frankincense for eyeliner. Both were also vital ingredients in the embalming process.
In past times, frankincense and myrrh were worth more than their weight in gold.
These days, they are most commonly used as essential oils, which have been steamed-distilled from the resins. And modern science is finally catching up with the ancient remedies, finding evidence to support many of their traditional health benefit claims, including:
Immune system support: A study conducted on mice and published in the journal Phytotherapy Research noted that frankincense boosted the production of antibodies while reducing the hypersensitivity to pathogens and other body intruders that can cause inflammation. If you do get sick, myrrh works as an expectorant to relieve congestion.
Antiseptic qualities: Frankincense and myrrh have been used to treat wounds and heal infections since ancient times. They kill bacteria and fungi, and myrrh is currently used in a medication to fight a parasitic infection caused by the liver fluke fasciola hepaticahas.
Pain relief: Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, researchers found that frankincense oil helps to soothe pain from muscle aches, digestive issues and arthritis. Scientists also praise it as a credible weapon in fighting a range of chronic ailments, such as asthma, ulcerative colitis, arthritis, and Crohn’s disease.
Fighting cancer: One lab study showed that frankincense can be deadly to ovarian cancer cells with researchers concluding that it “may form the basis of a novel anticancer treatment…perhaps alongside conventional chemotherapy.” Various studies show promise in frankincense fighting other cancers, including breast, colon, bladder, skin, stomach and pancreatic. And researchers have found myrrh to be effective in the battle against eight different types of gynecological cancers.
Regulating hormones: Frankincense helps normalize estrogen levels and regulate the menstrual cycle, easing headaches, cramps, nausea, mood swings, and other symptoms. Myrrh can give you energy by boosting thyroid function.
Skin care: Both have been used since ancient days for skin problems, including leprosy. They have anti-aging and skin rejuvenation qualities, reduce scarring from acne and surgery, and encourage blemishes and stretch marks to fade. As good skin toners and lifters, they are often used in cosmetic products.
Reducing stress: Frankincense and myrrh act as sedatives to soothe anxiety, ease depression and foster a good night’s sleep. Inhaling their aromas is also said to enhance spirituality as they calm the nerves and awaken insight.
“Frankincense and myrrh come from the same botanical family and go hand-in-hand,” Rutz tells Newsmax Health. “They help the healing process of mind, body and spirit.”
© 2023 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.