Frankincense and Myrrh
Gifts of the Magi that keep on giving
By Karen Frye
Whatever your religion, you most likely know the story of the three Wise Men who followed the star to the manger in Bethlehem the night Jesus was born. Two of the precious gifts they brought with them were frankincense and myrrh. Thousands of years ago, these herbs were worth as much as silver and gold, and they’ve retained their value, medicinally and spiritually.
The popularity of aromatherapy and the great success stories using the oils and extracts are well known. Myrrh is extracted from the Mukul myrrh tree, which grows in dry climates in the Middle East. The myrrh gum is used in preparations for teeth, gums and skin conditions. In Ayurvedic medicine (native to India) the extract from the myrrh, “gugul,” is especially effective for lowering bad cholesterol and improving the function of the thyroid gland.
Frankincense oil is prepared using hardened gum resins from the Boswellia sacra, a tree native to India, Africa and the Middle East. One of the main components of frankincense oil is boswellia, an herb with major anti-inflammatory properties. Boswellia (as a supplement) has been around a very long time and, while it isn’t as well known for its anti-inflammatory power as turmeric, it’s certainly on the way.
Inflammation doesn’t just cause joint pain; it contributes to disease throughout the body, including cancer and heart disease. In the case of asthma, allergies, bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, boswellia helps reduce inflammation in the lungs. Inflammation damages our brain cells, and may increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Taking boswellia may boost brain function, as well as reduce inflammation. In addition to quelling joint pain, there are benefits to the digestive tract, assisting in relief from irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, even rheumatoid arthritis.
Frankincense oil is a lovely fragrance that has been used throughout the ages in perfumes. Its warm, pungent, sweet notes bring about feelings of peace and balance, helping to ease anxiety. Cleopatra is thought to have used frankincense oil in her beauty regimen. The pure oil used topically has been found to improve skin conditions. Frankincense is one of the most effective oils for skin care with remarkable rejuvenating and healing properties.
These gifts given many, many years ago are now gifts for those who seek better health through the wonders of nature. May you have a wonderful holiday season filled with peace, love and laughter. PS
Karen Frye is the owner and founder of Nature’s Own and teaches yoga at the Bikram Yoga Studio.