Monday, January 5, 2015

Health Benefits of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh

 Adoration of the Magi by Nikolaus Obilman, ca. 1466

Three Wise Men and Their Precious Gifts

On January 6th Christians all over the world celebrate Epiphany or the arrival and adoration of the Three Wise Men form the East that are also known as the Three Magi or the Three Kings. 

The Three Wise Men are mentioned only in the Gospel of Matthew. Very few details are given about these men in the Bible and much of what we know is left to speculation. The Holy Scripture does not say how many wise men arrived to pay respect to Jesus, but it is generally assumed that there were three visitors, since each brought a gift and there were three gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

In antiquity, these valuable gifts were often given to honor a king or a deity: gold was a valuable commodity, precious in itself, and worthy of a king; frankincense was a rare and precious substance that was burned as an incense; and myrrh was often used as an anointing oil. Ancient inscriptions show that these three items were also among the gifts that King Seleucus II Callinicus offered to the god Apollo at the temple in Miletus in 243 B.C.

Scholars believe that the three gifts also symbolized Christ's identity and his mission on earth: gold symbolized his divinity; frankincense his priestly role and righteousness; and myrrh, being a symbol of bitterness, suffering and affliction, prefigured his sacrificial death and embalming. 

Precious gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh

There is, however, a different interpretation of the meaning of these three gifts. These three precious substances are known since Antiquity for their healing properties. 

~ Gold ~

The earliest records of medicinal use of gold date back to Ancient Egypt where people ingested gold for mental, spiritual and bodily purification. As far back as 5,000 years ago Egyptian alchemists used liquid gold to make healing elixirs. They believed that gold could invigorate and rejuvenate the body, cure diseases, and help restore perfect health. Ancient Egyptians were also using gold in dentistry. Archeological finds document use of gold in dentistry as early as 2,500 B.C. 

But Ancient Egyptians were not the only ones who used gold for therapeutic purposes. Gold was used in the Traditional Chinese Medicine to restore health and prolong life. To this day peasants in China cook rice with a golden coin in order to profit from its restorative properties. 

Gold was also used therapeutically by the Indian Ayurvedic doctors, by the ancient Tibetans, by the Maya and the Aztecs, by the Arabs and the Persians. The Persian doctor Avicenna prescribed it to strengthen the heart. 

Medieval alchemists created Aurum potabile, a gold essence that was used as a life-giving, rejuvenating, balancing, heal-all potion throughout the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. The process was very laborious and was kept secret. Famous doctors such as Paracelsus and Isaacus Hollandus reported incredibly successful use of Aurum potabile in therapy of many chronic ailments. Medieval doctors also used gold-coated pills to cure arthritis.

Over the ages gold never lost its popularity, but the 19th century brought an entirely different form of gold - the colloidal gold that was first produced in 1857 by British chemist Michael Faraday. Colloidal gold is a suspension of minuscule gold particles (nano-particles) in a fluid, commonly distilled water. In the 19th century colloidal gold was used to improve blood circulation and to cure alcoholism. Today it is often used to reduce dependency on such substances as alcohol, nicotine, caffeine and sugar. 

Colloidal gold seems to have balancing and harmonizing effect on the human body. It can be used to restore libido, enhance the immune function, improve mental focus, and increase overall energy levels. 

Modern cosmetic industry re-discovered the use of gold for beauty. There are records that women in ancient Egypt, China and Rome used gold topically to prevent premature aging and heal skin conditions. Research shows that gold has the capacity to prevent depletion of collagen and the breakdown of elastin, it may help to regenerate healthy skin cells, calm inflammation, and  fight free radicals. 

Gold is non-toxic. It is well tolerated by the body and does not seem to interfere with other medications. 

~ Frankincense ~ 

Frankincense, also known as olibanum, is an aromatic resin obtained from the tree of the genus Boswellia in the family Burseraceae. The tree is native to Oman, Somalia, and Yemen. For ages, the resin was used not only to make perfumes and incense, but also as medicine.

The use of frankincense dates back to ancient Egypt where it was used in sacred ceremonies. Ancient Egyptians believed that frankincense could dispel demons and used the resin for embalming and mummification. They also mixed the resin with honey and chewed it to cure bad breath. 
In Arabia and in Ancient China the resin was used to heal skin conditions, running nose, nausea, and even leprosy.  

Hippocrates used an ointment made from frankincense that could cure many skin conditions, burns, wounds and skin infections. The resin was also used to alleviate digestive problems, expel parasites, cure bronchitis, sore throat, catarrh, and cough, to mention only a few. 

In the Middle Ages, Hildegard of Bingen believed that the scent of frankincense had the power to stimulate the human brain and improve memory. Paracelsus also used frankincense to cure variety of ailments. Both, Hildegard of Bingen and Paracelsus knew about its capacity to cure skin diseases, respiratory diseases, digestive problems and diarrhea. 

During the Middle Ages frankincense was one of the most important remedies used to cure people. Its popularity as a medicine, however, dwindled at the end of the Middle Ages and people in Europe forgot about it. They could still enjoy the scent, though, since frankincense was burned ceremonially in Catholic churches all over Europe. 

Frankincense became popular again in the West in mid-1980s after a German pharmacologist, prof. Phillip Theodor Ammon of Tübingen, brought it back from India where it was part of the Indian materia medica. 

German researchers have discovered that Indian frankincense (Boswellia serrata) was a very effective analgesic and worked wonders against low-level inflammation in the body. There is hope that chronic diseases such as Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, atherosclerosis, asthma, eczema, rheumatoid arthritis, and maybe even cancer, could be successfully treated with frankincense. More research has to be conducted, but what was published so far is quite promising. 

~ Myrrh ~

Myrrh is the very aromatic resin from small, thorny tree species from the genus Commiphora in the family Burseraceae. Myrrh is native to eastern regions of Africa (Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan), and the Arabian Peninsula, especially Oman and Yemen. Since antiquity myrrh was used to make perfume and incense, and like frankincense, it was also used as medicine. Myrrh was highly valued in Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, India, Ancient Greece and Rom. 

Ancient Egyptians used myrrh in religious ceremonies and funerals. The resin was used in embalming and mummification, and to heal wounds. 

In Ancient Greece, Hippocrates used myrrh to heal ulcers and wounds. The Romans believed that the scent of myrrh was an aphrodisiac. Roman ladies wore myrrh perfume to attract lovers. 

Myrrh became popular in Ancient China in the 7th century. It was used to heal wounds, to improve blood circulation, treat uterine tumors and other female health problems. 

During the pestilence pandemics in Medieval Europe doctors gave patients decay preventing pills made of myrrh, saffron and aloe. The Arabs used myrrh to cure contagious diseases. 

In Europe myrrh was used to disinfect wounds, reduce pain, and prevent inflammation. It was a popular remedy that could cure cough, bad breath, headaches, digestive problems, jaundice, gout, syphilis and even leprosy. 

Due to the scientific progress of the 19th century and the emergence of modern chemistry and medicine, myrrh became obsolete. 

Thanks to a growing interest in plant-based medicine during the last few decades, however, we have witnessed a comeback of this ancient remedy. Thanks to its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, myrrh is often added to mouthwashes and toothpaste. It is used to disinfect wounds and to reduce inflammation in the mouth, but also to treat asthma, reduce pain, balance blood sugar, balance cholesterol levels, stimulate the immune system, treat systemic candida and fungal infections, improve digestion, and to heal inflammatory diseases of the digestive tract. There is even hope for cancer patients. An ongoing research is being conducted in many parts of the world. 

Both, frankincense and myrrh, are used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and in Ayurveda. For centuries these resins have been used in China and in India. They are an important part of many herbal preparations that are used to treat wide variety of ailments and diseases. 

Essential oils of frankincense and myrrh are used to make costly perfumes. They are also used in aromatherapy, but that, by itself, is a vast subject deserving an entirely new article. 

By Dominique Allmon 

~ Happy Epiphany! ~

*The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not meant to diagnose or cure disease.



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Three Wise Men and Their Precious Gifts by Dominique Allmon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.