Frankincense, myrrh, and more: oils that heal as
referenced in the Bible. (Alternative medicine)
Countryside & Small Stock Journal;
11/1/2004; Manery, Bob
Do you remember the story of I the baby Jesus
receiving gifts from the Three Wise Men at his birth? They were gold,
frankincense and myrrh, right. By our standards today, most
people on the face of this earth would consider gold to be the most precious and
sought after of the three gifts to the newborn King. But what if I told you that
frankincense and myrrh were actually considered to he more
precious during those times than gold ever was?
Now here's another question for you. Do you know what
frankincense and myrrh are? I always thought they were just
perfumes or something like that.
They are actually essential oils derived from the resin of trees.
Frankincense comes from a very scraggly looking tree called the
Boswellia (Boswellia carteri) that grows in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and
Oman. (See National Geographic, Vol. 168, No. 4, October 1985, Page 475,
"Arabias Frankincense Trail") The Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha)
tree is also just as scraggly looking and grows in Somalia and Yemen.
Myrrh commanded three times the price of frankincense. Demand for
frankincense, however, was five times as great as myrrh.
Frankincense and myrrh were considered more precious than
gold by the kings, queens, priests and priestesses in ancient pre-Biblical
times. Essential oils were used by royalty and the wealthy for the healing
properties. Slaves, land, and animals were bought, sold and traded for essential
oils because of their extremely sought-after healing qualities. It was written
in the ancient scrolls that frankincense was "used to treat
every conceivable ill known to man."
It was a tradition that when a king was born, immediately the newborn infant
was anointed from head to toe with frankincense. The mother's
perineum and the umbilical cord were also anointed with myrrh. Through research,
it has been discovered that this was not merely a ritual but they were used
because frankincense and myrrh are highly anti-infectious, and
myrrh is very soothing to the skin. Because of this, the oils were used to stop
the possibility of any bacterial infections as well as soothing and healing of
On December 6, 2001 the following news release was issued: [Condensed] From
Ancient Tradition To 21st Century Industry. Myrrh, fragrant resin with ancient
heritage, may bear anti-cancer agents.
New Brunswick, NJ--"Researchers have identified a compound in myrrh, a
bitter-tasting, fragrant resin that has been used for thousands of years as an
ointment, perfume, incense and embalming fluid, that they believe could be
developed into a potent anticancer agent. The compound, which kills cancer cells
in the laboratory, shows particular promise for the prevention and treatment of
breast and prostate cancer, according to the researchers.
"As part of a larger search for anticancer compounds from plants, the
researchers obtained extracts from a particular species of myrrh plant
(Commiphora myrrha) and tested it against a human breast tumor cell line (MCF-7)
known to be resistant to anticancer drugs. Research data indicated that the
extract killed all of the cancer cells in laboratory dishes.
"Further investigations to isolate the active component of the extract found
it to be a unique and previously unknown compound belonging to a class called
sesquiterpenoids, which are typically found in natural products ...
... "The good news is that these compounds all come from food and are
unlikely to be toxic to healthy cells, which could mean fewer side effects as a
chemotherapy agent, the researcher says."
(An International Training Program in Aromatic Plants and Essential Oils From
Sourcing to Product Development And from Quality to Health Properties sponsored
by the New Use and Natural Products Program at Rutgers University, New
Brunswick, New Jersey, U.S.A.)
Frankincense is also known to have the compound
sesquiterpenes and has been used successfully against some cancers. Other
essential oils referenced in the Bible that also contain the compound of
sesquiterpene are aloes (sandalwood), spikenard, and galbanum.
John 12:3--"Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and
anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was
filled with the odor of the ointment." Spikenard was transported to the Holy
Land in sealed alabaster boxes all the way from the Himalayan Mountains. When a
distinguished guest came visiting, the master of the house showed honor by
breaking open the spikenard and anointing the guest. The Hebrews and Romans used
spikenard in the burial of their dead. This is why Jesus said of the woman who
poured the precious spikenard oil on him, "She is come aforehand to anoint my
body to the burying" (Mark 14:8). Spikenard is used to help soothe and nourish
the skin. The oil is known for helping in the treatment of allergic skin
Many of the oils referenced in the Bible were used because of their
antibacterial properties and effects. One such oil was that of hyssop. The
hyssop plant was used during the exodus from Egypt. Exodus 12:22--"And ye shall
take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike
the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none
of you shall go out at the door of his house until morning." The branches of the
hyssop plant were used because upon striking the lintels of the door the
essential oil of the leaves were released upon the doorway with the blood.
There are many species of hyssop, but the one known as Hyssop officinalis has
been used medicinally for almost a millennium for its antiseptic, disinfecting,
and anti-infectious properties. It has also been used for opening the
Psalms 45:8--"All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes [sandalwood], and
cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad." Sandalwood
is another oil high in sesquiterpenes, which have been researched in Europe for
their ability to stimulate the pineal gland and limbic region of the brain, the
center of emotions. Sandalwood is similar to frankincense oil
in its support of nerves and circulation.
Exodus 30:24--"And of cassia five hundred shekels, after the shekel of the
sanctuary and of oil olive an hin: ... " Cassia (Cinnamomum cassia) distilled
from the leaves and twigs of the plant, may be more commonly known from its
cinnamon aroma. However, cassia is chemically and physically quite different
from cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum) which is distilled from the bark of the tree.
Exodus 30:23--"Take thou also unto thee principle spices, of pure myrrh five
hundred shekels, and of sweet cinnamon half so much, even two hundred and fifty
shekels, and of sweet calamus two hundred and fifty shekels ..."
Research has found that pathogenic microorganisms cannot live in the presence
of cinnamon oil. This oil has been used to help fight viral and infectious
diseases. Cinnamon bark oil has been tested alongside the antibiotics,
penicillin and ampicillin, in their effectiveness against Escherichia coli and
Staphylococcus aureus. Their effectiveness was found to be comparable to the
antibiotics for both types of bacteria. Cassia oil is also highly regarded for
its antiseptic properties.
Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) i8 one of the oils most used for the
circulatory system. This oil has been known for its beneficial effects on
asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory conditions. More recently it has been
used to strengthen blood capillary walls. The cypress tree is renowned for its
superior strength and durability. For example, the sturdy doors of St. Peter's
in Rome shows no signs of decay, even after 1,200 years.
Exodus 30:34--"And the Lord said unto Moses, Take unto thee sweet spices,
stacte, and onycha, and galbanum: these sweet spices with pure
frankincense: of each there shall be a like weight." Galbanum
(Eerula gummosa) was esteemed for its medicinal and spiritual properties.
Dioscorides, an ancient Roman historian, records that galbanum was used for its
antispasmodic, diuretic, and pain-relieving properties. Onycha (Styrax benzoin)
(pronounced oh-nigh-kah) was traditionally known for its comforting and soothing
As you can see there were many essential oils used in ancient times for a
myriad of medicinal and spiritual purposes. However, one of the concerns of
today among true aromatherapists is the usage of essential oils that have been
adulterated in some manner. Their purity and integrity may have been lost
through the adulteration process, but appears to be of no concern to
manufacturers who supply these essential oils. Many of the manufacturers of
adulterated oils come under the guidelines of the Cosmetic Act and produce
nothing more than a perfume, but they have labeled them as an essential oil. It
is the understanding of these authors, that many of these companies that label
their essential oils bottles as 100% pure essential oil are only required to
have 5% of the true essential oil as part of its content. The other 95% of the
ingredients are never divulged to the customer and could contain harmful
One must be wise while shopping for pure essential oils. The highest grade on
the market is known as a "therapeutic grade." In order for an essential oil to
qualify as a therapeutic grade essential oil, it must meet and pass rigorous
standards and testing which were established in France. One of the most reliable
indicators of essential oil quality is the AFNOR (Association French
Normalization Organization Regulation) or ISO (International Standards
There are many varieties of essential oils on the market besides those
referenced in the Bible. Most do have at least some therapeutic quality to them.
However, as you are probably aware of spices such as oregano, thyme, peppermint
and others, there are different varieties or species. The same goes for the
essential oils just spoken of that are referenced in the Bible.
Frankincense for example comes in five different grades and
cannot be detected by an untrained person. Therefore, it is wise to depend on a
source that has subjected their oils to the rigorous testing to ensure it is the
top quality essential oil that you are searching for.
If you are the type of person who does not like going to the doctor for every
little ailment or sniffle and you are not familiar with essential oils and
natural products, it is highly recommended that you do your due diligence.
Purchasing an essential oil at your local health food store may be more harmful
than any good it could possibly do for you.
Source: Gentle Winds, Inc., 1877-535-6092