During this holiday season, I am offering a frankincense and myrrh massage. If I were stranded somewhere and was allowed only two essential oils, they would have to have to be Frankincense and Myrrh.
Frankincense is mentioned in one of the oldest known medical records, Ebers Papyrus, dating from the sixteenth century B.C., and ancient Egyptians listed the oil on hundreds of prescriptions and recipes. Frankincense was valued more than gold during ancient times.
Frankincense contains sesquiterpenes, which stimulate the limbic system (the center of memory and emotions) and the hypothalamus, pineal, and pituitary glands. The scent can calm and soothe the whole body and mind, while simultaneously being stimulating and elevating. It is useful for visualizing and improving one’s spiritual connection. Frankincense has comforting properties that help center the mind and overcome stress and despair.
In Chinese medicine, myrrh is classified as bitter and spicy, with a neutral temperature. It is said to have special efficacy on the heart, liver, and spleen meridians, as well as "blood-moving" powers to purge stagnant blood from the uterus. It is therefore recommended for rheumatic, arthritic, and circulatory problems, and for amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, menopause, and uterine tumors.
When used in concert, myrrh is "blood-moving" while frankincense moves the Qi, making it more useful for arthritic conditions.
Yang Yifan, in her book Chinese Herbal Medicines Comparisons and Characteristics, says:
Frankincense and myrrh are aromatic herbs. They are very bitter and pungent and move quickly. They can strongly disperse congealed blood, and direct it to descend, open up the meridians and collaterals, and are very effective for relieving pain. The two herbs are often used together to enhance the therapeutic effect. In clinical practice, they are often applied to reduce pain and swelling in trauma, arthritis, and fractures.
Frankincense is warm and pungent and enters the heart and lung meridians. Compared with myrrh, it promotes not only the blood circulation, but also the qi movement. It can also relax tendons. Frankincense is especially suitable for conditions where the joints and muscles are very stiff, swollen, and painful.
Myrrh is neutral and it enters the liver meridians. Compared with frankincense, it is more bitter and its dispersing action is also stronger. This herb is stronger than frankincense for breaking up congealed blood and is used not only in trauma and fracture, but also for hard masses, such as tumors.
Dr. Jiao Shude, one of the most famous Chinese herb doctors of the 20th century, described the similarities and differences between the herbs and the value of combining the two:
Frankincense and myrrh both quicken the blood and relieve pain. However, frankincense moves qi to quicken the blood and also stretches the sinews, frees the channels, soothes the network vessels, and relieves pain. Myrrh, by contrast, dissipates stasis to quicken the blood and also disperses swelling and settles pain. The former tends to act on qi, while the latter acts on blood. When the two medicinals are used together, the benefits of each are mutually enhanced. Therefore, these two medicinals are almost always used together in clinical practice.
In The Fragrant Heavens, Valeria Ann Worwood describes the spiritual benefits of frankincense essential oil as “adaptogenic – it will adapt to a person’s spiritual state of being… capable of offering support in a wide range of circumstances.” And it can “induce feelings of emotional stability, enlightenment, protection, introspection, courage, resolution, fortitude, acceptance and inspiration.”
Frankincense is suitable for many conditions and has been shown to:
· Treat skin inflammation, scarring, wrinkles and acne
· Encourage cellular regeneration
· Alleviate headaches
· Ease allergies
· Help reduce symptoms bronchitis, laryngitis, and asthma
· Enhance digestion
· Slow down and deepen your breathing
· Act as a powerful anti-depressant
· Calm your mind, ease anxiety, and reduce nightmares
· Have properties that can resolve melanoma and some cancers
Myrrh is equally beneficial and can:
· Balance your thyroid and endocrine system
· Resolve fungal and viral infections