How much do you know about Frankincense and Myrrh apart from them being precious gifts given to the baby Jesus by the Three Wise Men?
Being so close to Christmas I thought I'd write about the wonderful healing powers of these herbs which were very valuable in ancient times. The very fact that gold was also a part of the Three Wise Men's gift to Jesus verifies just how precious these herbs were.
Frankincense (Boswellia thurifera, B. Carterii) is the resin tapped from the Boswellia tree of which there are numerous species and varieties with each one producing slightly different types of resin. The more opaque the resin the better the quality.
Traded in North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula for more than 5,000 years, Frankincense is usually used in the form of incense or essential oil which is obtained by steam distillation of the dry resin and is used in aromatherapy and perfumery. Good quality Frankincense that has no impurities is edible and is used in Asia to promote healthy skin and aid digestion. We herbalists prescribe Boswellia serrata for inflammatory conditions including arthritis, rheumatic disorders, ulcerative colitis, and pulmonary diseases.
In aromatherapy Frankincense essential oil is used to treat asthma, catarrhal problems, urinary tract infections, and to cleanse ulcers and wounds. It's also valuable as a uterine tonic during labour and is said to help slow wrinkles.
Burn the incense to help nervous people, especially those who seem to be highly strung, and to help focus on the present rather than the past.
Caution: Not to be used directly on the skin as it can cause irritation.
Myrrh (Commiphora molmol) belongs to the same family as Frankincense - Burseraceae or Torchwood family - and is the resin taken from a shrub or low tree that grows wild in Ethiopia, the Arabian peninsula and Somalia.
It's a most wonderful anti-microbial herb from which a tincture or liquid extract is made and used to treat respiratory conditions. It also has a major role in treating external conditions such as sinusitis, tonsillitis, fungal infections, and abrasions and inflammations. Sinusitis can be treated by applying the liquid extract over the sinuses and tonsillitis can be treated by gargling a mouthwash made from 5 ml of the tincture in a glass of water.
Throughout history Myrrh has been popularly used as an anti-microbial, an antibiotic for preserving wine, an embalming agent, and to treat infected teeth, infections of the skin and mouth, coughs, worms, and chronic catarrh.
Given the health benefits of Frankincense and Myrrh the Three Wise Men were very wise indeed when they gave these gifts to the infant Jesus. Now I'm wondering if Mary ever used them to treat Jesus for any ailments.
Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year to you all.
Proprietor, author, and tutor of The Home Herbalist Online Course.