Stories told at Christmas time include gifts given to the baby Jesus of gold, frankincense and myrrh. These may seem to be an odd gift for a baby and new parents, however each of these naturally occurring products are actually very valuable and have a long history of healing properties.
Gold is a precious metal usually reserved for jewellery. It is said that wearing gold can help to promote circulation, regulate oxygen flow, alleviate the symptoms of arthritis and even boost immunity. An old wives tale says that if you have a stye on your eye, rubbing a gold ring on it will cure it. While this is debatable, there may be something to the friction of rubbing the ring over the stye opening up the pore on the eyelid to help release the infection.
Frankincense oil is made from a resin from the boswellia tree. It has been traditionally used in ayurvedic medicine for hundreds of years for a range of health conditions including arthritis and cancer.
Due to the anti-inflammatory properties of frankincense, it can help to reduce the inflammation of the joints caused by both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis by preventing the release of leukotrienes, compounds that cause inflammation.
Frankincense has also been shown to benefit those with long term inflammatory gut diseases such as Chrons’ disease and ulcerative colitis by reducing inflammation with no negative side effects.
Traditionally, frankincense has been used for years to treat asthma and other respiratory conditions such as bronchitis. In one particular study, 70% of participants found that their symptoms of shortness of breath and wheezing improved in as little as six weeks. It also showed an increase in lung capacity and reduction in asthma attacks.
Boswellic acids present in frankincense can help to prevent the spread of cancer cells in the body as well as reducing some of the side effects of cancer.
Myrrh is a resin from the tree Commiphora myrrha and has long been used medicinally for a number of ailments, especially in traditional Chinese and ayurvedic medicine. It has healing properties and can kill bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites.
Myrrh is a common ingredient in natural mouthwashes and other products for oral health as it can quickly help to relieve pain and heal gum disease such as gingivitis, mouth ulcers, cold sores and bad breath. It also works well to help healing of skin infections and wounds, including surgical wounds.
Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, myrrh can reduce swelling and pain by blocking your body’s production of inflammatory chemicals and signalling your brain that you’re not in pain.
Myrrh and frankincense incense were often burned together in places of worship during ancient times to help to purify the air and prevent the spread of bacteria and contagious diseases. In fact, a recent study showed that burning myrrh and frankincense together reduced the airborne bacterial count by 68%.
As always, these natural products are not for everyone, so please talk to your naturopath or other health professional before consuming them, particularly if you are taking any medications or are pregnant or breastfeeding.