As Christmas approaches once again we often hear the story of baby Jesus and the Wise Men who came to present gifts of frankincense and myrrh. Why would “Wise Men” bring a baby herbs and just what exactly are frankincense and myrrh?
Both of these herbs have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for over 1600 years and are mentioned in the Book of Exodus. Both of these tree resins, look like little rocks but are actually the bleeds from trees. But not just any trees. Frankincense is the resin of the Boswellia tree, whose roots can grow in solid rock. The trees are renowned for growing in unforgiving environments and can survive violent storms and harsh conditions. The tree is “tapped” a similar process to taping maple trees for syrup and the resin bleeds out. It naturally hardens into small rocks and valued for its healing abilities. Chinese medicine has used frankincense as an internal tea to move the blood and relieve pain.
Myrrh is commonly used topically for bed sores, and in Chinese herbal medicine it is paired with frankincense as a pain reliever. It can be used for menstrual cramps or in the event of an injury such as a sprain, strain or bruise these two together can invigorate the blood, reduce swelling, relieve pain and promote healing, similar to the way we use over the counter pain relievers. Now you see why these would be a valuable gift for Jesus, or anybody living in ancient times. These natural herbs were the first Christmas gifts and have proven useful throughout the test of time.