Frankincense and Myrrh have a distinguished history that dates back to ancient biblical times. They are best known historically as the precious gifts presented to the Christ child by the wise men, along with gold. (Matthew 2:11) Have you ever wondered why the wise men chose Frankincense and Myrrh as gifts? All three were valuable commodities that were exported by camel caravans throughout the known world. Only royalty or the wealthy could afford either, making them a fitting gift for the King of Kings. But there's more.
Did you know that Frankincense and myrrh were presented to Christ on other occasions? Myrrh was mixed with wine and offered to him during his crucifixion, to ease the pain. (Mark 15:23) Myrrh was also used in burial preparations. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes to prepare the body of Jesus for burial, as was the custom at that time. (John 19:39-40) Among the earliest recorded uses of frankincense and myrrh were of Moses and the twelve tribes of ancient Israel. Both were used as a holy offering unto the Lord in anointing oils and perfume. (Exodus 30:22-38)
There are many biblical and other ancient references to frankincense and myrrh. These costly commodities were used not only by the ancient Hebrews, but by the Egyptians and Romans as well. Both were used in embalming and burned as incense for fragrance, purification and in religious rites. Frankincense was used extensively as medicine. The resin was chewed for digestive issues. Ancient Egyptian queens and pharaohs used frankincense and myrrh topically for skin care and rejuvenation, in cosmetics and facial masks. The dark eyeliner that Egyptian royalty wore thickly around their eyes was referred to as kohl. It was made from charred powder from burned frankincense resin.
Where does Frankincense and Myrrh come from?
Both are derived from the resin of trees. Myrrh comes from an Arabian tree known as Balsamodendron myrrh. However, there is no tree known as a frankincense tree. It is derived from the Boswellia trees. It became known as frank + incense because of the prominent odor and steady, long lasting flame it gives when burned. To extract frankincense and myrrh, incisions are made in the tree bark. The sap oozes from the cuts and hardens into beads of resin. The resin is harvested and used in a variety of applications. Frankincense essential oil is made by steam-distilling the natural tree resin. Use only 100% pure therapeutic grade essential oils that are derived from plant sources instead of fragrance oils that may contain synthetic chemicals.
Fortunately we don’t have to rely on camel caravans to deliver these beneficial resins and oils. Frankincense and myrrh are typically sold by herbal companies in volatile (essential) oils, resin and powder form. It can be burned and compounded and used to make incense, perfume, and medicinal tinctures.
Frankincense essential oil can be diffused to relieve respiratory issues such as colds and asthma, or for its relaxing, focus enhancing aroma. Added to salves or carrier oils, it is used to treat dry skin and enhance the healing of skin abrasions. A drop of pure, therapeutic grade frankincense essential oil can be taken daily in a spoon of honey, coconut oil or in a glass of water to boost the immune system. Current research on frankincense and other essential oils are revealing promising findings. Certain species of frankincense have been found to aide digestion, effectively treat asthma, arthritis, ulcerative colitis, kill cancer cells and prevent the growth of tumors. In clinical trials, it was reported to reduce cerebral swelling in brain cancer patients.
Myrrh essential oil can be diffused to relieve respiratory issues, soothe mucus membranes or to enhance focusing and centering. Myrrh is used in various cosmetic and skin care applications to promote healthy, youthful skin. Myrrh is valued for promoting oral health and is used in oil pulling, mouthwash, throat lozenges and toothpaste. It is used to relieve sore throats, toothache, mouth ulcers, and as a breath freshener. A drop of pure, therapeutic grade myrrh essential oil can be taken orally in a spoon of honey, coconut oil or in a glass of water to bolster the immune system, and protect your body from infection. Myrrh has many beneficial properties: antioxidant, antiviral, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and is an expectorant. In recent studies myrrh was found to effectively kill breast and skin cancer cells.
Important: Use of frankincense or myrrh essential oil is not recommended when pregnant or nursing, or by those six years of age or under. This article is not a complete report of frankincense or myrrh, nor is it a guide to usage, and is not intended as medical advice.
About the Author:
Deborah Tukua is the editor of Journey to Natural Living and author of the healthy fresh from the blender recipe book, Naturally Sweet Blender Treats. She is a freelance writer for the Farmers' Almanac andChiropractic Economics magazine and author of the book, Marketing Strategies for Chiropractic Success.
All the Trees and Woody Plants of the Bible by David A. Anderson, Word Books, 1979.
Smith's Bible Dictionary by William Smith, L.L.D., Hendrickson Publishers, 2002
The Revell Bible Dictionary, Fleming H. Revell Company, 1990.
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