Turns out Frankincense and Myrrh are the original aromatherapy! Our expert explains their healing properties and significance at this time of year.
The holiday season is gaining pace and even those that don’t celebrate Christmas still often get caught in the frenzy of festivities. As things get increasingly hectic it can be nice to take a breath and remember some Christmas stories both religious and pagan. One that always stays with me is the story of the three kings, or three wise men, or even biblical magi, as they were known.
I imagine their silhouettes carrying their precious gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, crossing deserts and mountains. The wide-open sky above, turning pinky gold with a dusting of dark and a single glassy star burning brightly, showing them the way to baby Jesus. In some Spanish speaking cultures, these wise men still bring the children gifts, much like Santa and his reindeer, but on their camels. Each person is also sometimes thought to represent a different continent, Asia, Europe and Africa.
These ancient and precious gifts of frankincense and myrrh can be used to bring some traditional rituals into your home, given as gifts, or made into simple blends to keep us calm, alleviate cold symptoms and allow for some reflection as we pause at the end of December, ready to welcome a new year.
Why are these oils so special?
The oils themselves have an interesting story; myrrh, probably the oldest known aromatic substance, was used over 4,000 years ago in Egyptian times for beauty products, embalming bodies, religious ceremonies and dental hygiene!
The nomadic tribes of southern Arabia and northern Africa burnt the wood of frankincense and myrrh, not only keeping warm, but benefiting from their therapeutic properties.
The Romans added myrrh to their wine, keeping it sweet and making it slightly narcotic, whilst shepherds drank it in the Bible and it is still used today in Christian and Islamic communities for religious rituals. Both are mentioned throughout the Bible, and Frankincense was long used as a precious oil to anoint kings, one reason it was probably chosen as a gift for baby Jesus.
What are the benefits of these oils today?
Both Frankincense and myrrh come from the same botanical families and are extracted from gum resin. Plant resins typically protect the plant from invading insects and pathogens, so they are great to treat a variety of skin conditions from mature skin, stretch marks to specific issues like eczema, dermatitis and treating wounds.
Frankincense has a light, refreshing, almost citrusy aroma. A large part of its chemical composition is from monoterpenes. This means it is also great at gently decongesting stuffed noses and head colds.
Myrrh has a smoky, dry and musky scent, slightly bitter. It can be slightly tricky to use, so don’t overdo it. It has a large composition of sesquiterpenes, which means it calms, from the mind to the skin.
How can I use these oils today?
For a luxurious and nourishing face or body oil, blend myrrh and frankincense with rose, or for a more masculine scent switch it to cardamom.
Diffuse myrrh, frankincense and pine in your living space to help to decongest cold symptoms, keep your space naturally disinfected and promote calm during this hectic month. Or, if you want to really spice it up, create a stunning Christmas aroma diffusing with sweet orange, pine, clove and cinnamon.
These essential oils also make a beautiful and unusual gift given alone!
Where can you buy these oils?
I am pretty picky about where I source my products; a favourite place of mine in Singapore is Neal’s Yard. They have a long history of producing natural products and oils, long before it was fashionable!
Neal’s Yard is offering Sassy Mama readers a Christmas special: take 15% discount off essential oils for the month of December. Just swing by their stores at Millennia Walk or Parkway Parade and mention Sassy Mama.
Safety: As always please use oils safely, do not ingest, check your individual health concerns and always store high up away from little hands.
I’d like to wish all mamas and their families a safe, happy, and healthy holiday season!