How Frankincense And Myrrh Work Together
We come to learn about frankincense and myrrh from the Bible during the time Jesus was born. They were among the three gifts taken to him by the three wise men. From this incident in the bible we can clearly see that frankincense and myrrh were considered of great value alongside gold which was also gifted to the baby Jesus. Since the early days, scholars have been offering us with different theories and interpretations of the meaning of gold, myrrh and frankincense as they were presented to the baby Jesus. Just like in the biblical context, frankincense and myrrh have been used together for different purposes.
The antimicrobial use of frankincense can be traced back to the 11th century when the Persian physician and philosopher Avicenna used frankincense to treat inflammation and infections of the urinary tract. The earliest antimicrobial use of myrrh dates back to 1100 bc, where Sumerians used myrrh to treat infected
teeth and intestinal worms.
Frankincense and myrrh trade were lucrative for almost 1500 years. With their origin being in the Arabian Peninsula, northern Africa and eastern Africa, the demand for these commodities was so high making them one of the most expensive commodities because the demand exceeded the production. As a result, the dealers of these resins who were mostly Arabs became the wealthiest people on earth during that time.
They can either be used as the resin or steam distilled as essential oils. They have close to the same properties and today, many studies can confirm that frankincense and myrrh has got many beneficial properties ranging from skincare, haircare and health. Frankincense is actually also known as the king of oils due to its healing properties. It is not only safe for topical use but also for internal use.
Frankincense also known as olibanum derived from the Arabian word for milk, al lubn, scientific name Boswellia, is native to the Arabian Peninsula specifically Oman (now Saudi Arabia) and Yemen and also North East Africa (Somalia, Kenya, Sudan and Egypt) and some parts of India. Frankincense is the dried sap of the tree that is harvested by slashing the bark of the tree a process known as stripping or making deep incisions (tapping) in the tree with special knives. The sap from the tree flows out and hardens in the sun. This hardened sap is known as resin and look like irregularly shaped, glossy and transparent stones.
The resin is collected and sorted for quality. The larger and lighter the resin, the better the quality. Frankincense has a warm, earthy, clean, spicy and slightly sweet scent to it. There are 5 major species of frankincense, Boswellia sacra, the finest and most aromatic species of frankincense, which is native to the Dhofar region in Oman. Similar to Boswellia carterii, Boswellia papyrifera native to Sudan and Ethiopia, Boswellia neglecta native to the east African region abundant in Kenya, Boswellia frereana and Boswellia serrata which is the Indian frankincense.
Myrrh derived from a Hebrew word for bitter, murr or maror, is the natural gum or resin that is extracted from a tree from the genus commiphora and species myrrha, hence the scientific name commiphora myrrha. These trees are native to north eastern Africa (Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea) and the Arabian Peninsula (Oman and Yemen now Saudi Arabia). The trees are small, thorny and they have white flowers Myrrh is extracted the same way as the frankincense resin. The bark of the tree is cut or deep incisions are made in the tree. The sap also known as resin is allowed to flow out of the tree and is allowed to harden then scrapped off the tree trunk. The resin looks like tear shaped droplets. Myrrh resin can be used in the dried hardened form or steam distilled to yield essential oil. Myrrh has a scent that is smoky, spicy, sweet, bitter, dry and woody. The sap from myrrh trees has a yellowish colour and a viscous consistency before it hardens.
How well do they work together?
Myrrh and frankincense have been used together since time in memorial as ingredients in incenses because they were considered holy oils, biblical essential oils used to inspire prayer during religious rituals, also during aromatherapy for relaxation and to deepen meditation and revitalize the spirit. They were also used as ingredients for cosmetics, the Egyptian women mixed the ash with their eyeshadow, used to make deodorants hence enhanced cleanliness and for tooth care as well. Frankincense and myrrh were also used to repel away insects and animals.
Research shows frankincense and myrrh species in combination has demonstrated largely noteworthy activity against a wide range
of test micro-organisms.
They have many uses ranging from skincare, hair care and health care as well due to their properties which provide the many benefits. The properties of frankincense and myrrh include:
- Non comedogenic
Frankincense and myrrh work well hand in hand in that they both amplify the others properties making them work better. Like I said, they have properties close to each other. A comparison of their properties shows that myrrh is more astringent, stimulant, antiseptic, disinfectant and tonic, while frankincense is more anti-inflammatory, blood vitalizing and mentally uplifting hence good for aromatherapy. Frankincense also amplifies the antibacterial properties of myrrh so that it can help fight bacteria and cause faster healing of a bacterial infection.
Uses and benefits of frankincense and myrrh.
- Help with the protection of our nervous system.
- Ant parasitic, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal benefits.
- Fight cancer.
- Treat inflammatory bowel syndrome
- Helps treat hypothyroidism
- Helps lower blood sugar levels
- Helps with oral care
- It relieves pain
- Myrrh is also a solution for vaginal infections
- It offers relief to upper respiratory problems
- It helps control fungal sinuses
- Boosts the immunity of our bodies
- For aromatherapy to promote relaxation of the body and deepen meditation for stress relief.
- The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia (BHMA 1996) indicates
myrrh tincture as a mouthwash for gingivitis and ulcers.
- Prevents aging signs
- Promotes healthy skin
- Fights against acne
- Promotes faster healing of skin infections
- Treat eczema psoriasis and dermatitis.
- Reduces the appearance of pores
- Soothes inflamed skin
Frankincense and myrrh provide moisture not only to the skin but also our hair.
Sources and additional readings
By Eila Oketch.