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Magical and Medicinal: Frankincense and Myrrh

by Gentle World on December 20, 2011

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No matter your faith or form of seasonal celebration, you’ve most likely noticed frankincense and myrrh resins, incense and essential oils start to pop up this time of year. Many first heard of these resins through the story of the Three Wise Men (Magi) and their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh at Jesus’s birth; thus the connection to Christmas time.

While it may be easy to understand gold being a precious gift, in truth, frankincense and myrrh’s value far outweighs that of gold and extends far beyond biblical lore. These plants are healing on an emotional, physical and spiritual level and more than simply symbols of the season.

“Amber and myrrh, benzoin and musk condense
To transports of the spirit and the sense!”

Allen Tate

Frankincense and myrrh are from the same plant family (Burseraceae) and grow as small shrub-like trees in dry climates; such as India, Oman, Ethiopia, Somalia, Yemen and Saudi Arabia. The resin of both plants has been used medicinally and for spiritual practices for over 5,000 years, and with good reason.

Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha) is extracted from the Commiphora Mukul tree and has a natural medicinal aroma. It is now commonly found in many skin creams, toothpaste and other cosmetic products, but this is only the beginning of its beneficial uses.

Health Benefits: Anti-septic, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory, anti-depressant, anti-microbial and anti-viral, astringent, expectorant, stimulant, carminative, stomachic, anti catarrhal, diaphoretic, vulnerary, anti-spasmodic, immune booster, improves circulation, body tonic.

Uses:

  • works as a sedative, for spiritual opening, stimulating thought
  • heals wounds (essentially those of a ‘weeping’ nature), protects against infection and promotes healing
  • skin diseases (eczema, ringworm, etc.)
  • soothes cracked and chapped skin, fades scars and other spots
  • used during and before meditation to align energy centers and encourage healing
  • used in gum and mouth (ulcer) preparations
  • stimulates uterine health and helps to normalize menstruation, relieves contractions or spasms (cramps, aches etc.)
  • relieves gas and diarrhea, improves stomach health, treats pyorrhea
  • strengthens and activates the immune system, prevents/helps microbial infection (fever, food poisoning, cough, cold, mumps, measles, chicken poxs etc.)
  • strengthens the gums’ hold on teeth (contracts skin), firms the scalp’s grip on hair roots
  • protects against coughs and colds (viral infections), provides relief from mucus and phlegm, eases congestion, breathing trouble, etc.
  • works as a fungicide
  • stimulates blood circulation, digestion and nerves, increases sweat to purify body
  • And more!

Words of Caution: Myrrh oil can have toxic effects if used in excess. It should be avoided during pregnancy due to its stimulating nature.

“The words which express our faith and piety are not definite; yet they are significant and fragrant like frankincense to superior natures.”

Henry David Thoreau

As soon as you smell the warm, rich, sweet-woody scent of frankincense, it is easy to understand how special this plant truly is. Both as a resin or essential oil frankincense is opening and relaxing for both the body and mind.

Health benefits: Anti-septic, disinfectant, astringent, carminative, cicatrisant, cytophylactic, digestive, diuretic, emenagogue, expectorant, sedative, tonic, vulnerary.

Uses:

  • acts as a sedative (wonderful for insomnia), awakens insight, soothes anxiety, anger and stress
  • tones and lifts skin, heals and protects skin (against  boils, wounds, acne and other skin maladies), fades and heals scars
  • relieves pain associated with rheumatism, arthritis, etc., soothes inflammation
  • eliminates germs (either by burning resin or applying oil topically)
  • strengthens gums and hair roots, and contracts muscles, intestines and blood vessels (by firming and toning)
  • improves digestion and alleviates gas, abnormal sweating, uneasiness, and indigestion
  • promotes regeneration of healthy cells and keeps existing cells and tissues health
  • promotes urination to purify the body and reduce bloating
  • helps obstructed and delayed menstruation and delays menopause, helps PMS symptoms (pain in the abdominal region, nausea, headache, fatigue, etc.), regulates production of estrogen
  • relieves cough and phlegm, bronchitis, and congestion
  • relieves body pain, headache, toothache and rise in body temperature (fever) associated with sickness
  • tones up all the systems operating in the body: respiratory, digestive, nervous and excretory systems
  • strengthens absorption of nutrients in the body
  • And more!

Words of Caution: No known adverse side effects are known. It should not be used during pregnancy, because of its emenagogue and astringent qualities.

Using these beautiful resins and oils is a wonderful way to heal your body and soothe a busy mind in any season. Enjoy!

Related Stories:
3 Healing Scents for the Holiday Season
Holy Basil: The Queen of Stress Reducing Herbs
3 Essential Oils that Heal

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