A bottle of essential oil with frankincense resin crystals on a table

Frankincense: Recovering an Ancient Treasure

frankgift

And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. (Matthew 2:11)

Along with precious gold, the gifts brought to Christ at His birth were Frankincense and Myrrh. Have you ever wondered how Mary and Joseph may have used these precious gifts to benefit Jesus?

Perhaps they used this prized commodity to financially support their little family as they hid Jesus away from His pursuers. Or, perhaps they understood, as many ancients did, their powerful potential! We don’t know for sure. However, it is clear that these three items were great and valuable gifts fit for a King.

The Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Israelites and numerous other cultures used frankincense and myrrh for centuries, for a wide variety of challenges. They believed the smoke from burning frankincense acted as a deterrent to pests that carried various diseases.

In addition, Frankincense was extensively used in burial rituals as an embalming material, a way to honor the departed, and a means to cover odors and prevent further decomposition.

Frankincense is a great gift:

– To support normal breathing
– To support the immune system, and the body’s ability to do what it’s designed to do
– To support the endocrine system
– For occasional anxious feelings
– Great for skin!
– Part of a stress management protocol

Many people are familiar with Frankincense only from its mention in Scripture (22 times!):

Frankincense was imported into Judah by camel caravan from Sheba (Isaiah 60:6; Jeremiah 6:20), a trade connection that originated with the queen of Sheba’s visit to Jerusalem in the reign of Solomon (1 Kings 10:10; 2 Chronicles 9:9).

Frankincense could be used for secular purposes as a perfume (SOS 3:6; 4:6, 14), but it appears most frequently in the Bible in a religious context. Exodus 30:34-38 contains the recipe for a frankincense-based incense dedicated for ritual use. No other incense was permitted on the altar (Exodus 30:9) and secular use of the sacred frankincenseresinrecipe was absolutely forbidden (Exodus 30:38).

Offerings of frankincense were made at the Temple (Isaiah 43:23; 66:3; Jeremiah 17:26; 41:5) where it was stored for later use (Nehemiah 13:5, 9; 1 Chronicles 9:29). Frankincense was set beside the Bread of the Presence (Leviticus 24:7) and accompanied cereal offerings (Lev. 2:1-2, 14-16; 6:14-18).

It was prohibited with a sin offering (Lev. 5:11) or a cereal offering of jealousy (Num. 5:15). Frankincense was among the gifts offered to the infant Jesus by the Wise Men (Matt. 2:11). Revelations 18:13 lists frankincense as part of the cargo of the merchants who weep for the fallen city. See also Sheba, Queen of; Worship.

Achtemeier, P. J., Harper & Row, P., & Society of Biblical Literature. (1985). Harper’s Bible dictionary (1st ed.) (322). San Francisco: Harper & Row.

I’ve often wondered why so many ancient treasures, precious oils that used to be so highly valued, are no longer used or appreciated to the same extent in our modern day. It’s certainly more profitable to produce synthetic chemical versions, but at what cost to our health?

Millions of dollars have gone into marketing and selling synthetic versions to the public, often tainting the reputation of the real stuff. Cool, sexy packaging and deceptive marketing tactics have convinced many people that cheap, man-made copycats are somehow “better.”

Frankincense Tree

However, many of us are beginning to study and learn more about the hidden toxicity in our homes and in our health products, and the side effects of synthetic chemicals. In addition, more of us are discovering the numerous benefits of pure essential oils and are finding that man-made is not always better. Essential oils are filled with properties that are beneficial to the body and the emotions.

The Encyclopedia Britannica points out that Frankincense “was used as both an internal and an external remedy, but, according to modern Western medical theory, it has no special value.”

This is an amazing claim when you think about its historical uses and the number of studies that demonstrate Frankincense’s ability to help support the body’s natural immune system. However, it’s not too surprising when we consider the current attitude toward natural products.

One writer (I can’t find where I got this quote) put it this way:

The current social/scientific paradigm (John Anthony West calls it the ‘Church of Progress’) believes ancient man to have been governed solely by ignorance and superstition and that modern man is the pinnacle of intellectual and scientific achievement (this despite the fact that we still have no idea how the Ancients were able to construct many of their giant monuments, aka the Great Pyramid). Not surprising because modern medicine is still governed by the belief that medicine created in the laboratory, costing millions of dollars and many man-hours is far superior to that created by [God] and utilized by humans for thousands of years.

Maybe it is arrogance: the attitude that modern man is brilliant and men who lived before us were “Neanderthals.” Hmmm…now that I think about it, maybe evolutionary thinking has affected us more than we realize. God certainly has blessed us in varying ways throughout the centuries. Anyone build a pyramid lately? I’ve read about the amazing water systems that supplied the baths and households of Ancient Rome.

As amazing as they are, the bland high rises of today can’t be compared to the architecture and breathtaking artistry that adorns the famous cathedrals of Europe. Man is not “evolving”. We’re no more intelligent than men from the past. If we can learn from them, and pay attention to what “worked” for centuries, we can take the blessings of knowledge that has come in our time, and go even further.

More Recent Studies

  • Studies at Cairo’s King Faisal University show Frankincense strongly supports the immune system.*
  • Studies at Weber State University in the U.S. claim that Frankincense is effective in aiding the body’s normal detoxification process.*
  • A joint study by 3 Indian universities found that patients with joint stiffness experienced reduced discomfort, improved joint mobility, and less difficulty in performing daily activities.*

* “Frankincense Futures” By Juliet Highet, The Middle East, November 2007, Issue 383, p55-56

Adulterated Oils…

Pure frankincense is often extended with colorless, odorless, solvents such as diethylphthalate or dipropylene glycol…unfortunately, a large percentage of essential oils marketed in the United States fall into this adulterated category. When you understand the world of synthetic oils as well as low-grade oils cut with synthetic chemicals, you realize why unsuspecting people with their untrained noses don’t know the difference… – Essential Oils Desk Reference

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By the way, I am not a doctor – just a mom who uses essential oils in her own family. Please know that any information provided on The Common Scents Mom is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to prescribe, diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, nor replace current medical treatment or drugs prescribed by your healthcare professional. The statements made have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It is your responsibility to educate yourself and address any health or medical needs you may have with your physician. Please seek professional help when needed.

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