100-Gold, Frankincense & Myrrh - Festive Aromatics
Does the thought of the impending festive season fill you with excitement or dread? Or perhaps both? In this newsletter we aim to ease any pre-Christmas stress with a simple homemade present idea. We’ve also got an aromatic suggestion or two to help you remain calm throughout the festive build-up.
Wonderful aromatics feature in the biblical Christmas story, with wise men from the east bringing the baby Jesus gifts of frankincense and myrrh. Resin harvested from the small frankincense and myrrh trees gives us two exotically fragranced essential oils, used since antiquity in perfumes, ritual incense and medicines.
The Doctrine of Signatures is an ancient diagnostic tool which uses the physical appearance of plants as a guide to their healing properties. Picture frankincense and myrrh resins oozing from cuts in trees, then hardening to protect the trees and allow them to heal. This symbolises the often-quoted wound healing properties of frankincense and myrrh essential oils. It is said that myrrh paste was carried by ancient Greek soldiers into battle to treat war wounds and with good reason – its antibacterial qualities no doubt helped heal sword-inflicted cuts. Topically applied frankincense also has a history of healing wounds, thanks to the cell re-generating actions of its ester octyl acetate.
Frankincense essential oil (Boswellia carterii) is widely used in aromatherapy for its effects on the nervous system and, along with myrrh (Commiphora molmol), is recommended for calming and focusing stressed and over-active minds. Ancient Egyptians added frankincense to rejuvenating face creams and perfumes; inhaling these aromatics surely helped to calm and focus their spirits. Frankincense was also used to embalm their dead. Interestingly research from Belgium suggests that various frankincense species were also used in early European Christian funerary rites.
Frankincense is still widely used to aid prayer and mediation; its dual-actions of calming the mind and deepening the breath are perhaps due to the sedative nature of the esters which constitute much of its chemical make-up. This versatile oil is often also used to ease respiratory complaints, whilst myrrh can be helpful in treating coughs and colds.
So those Magi were wise indeed, gifting such useful aromatics to that Christmas baby.
Safety note: Myrrh essential oil should be avoided if pregnant or breastfeeding.
A few easy to blend combinations that will make a unique Christmas gift or a delightful home-made formulation to soothe mind, body and spirit. Enjoy !
Fabulous Face Oil – a wonderful Christmas present
50ml sterilized glass jar or bottle
20mls apricot kernel oil
10ml macadamia nut oil
10ml jojoba oil
10ml avocado oil
Essential oils (at 1% of the total blend):-
4 drops of Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis)
4 drops Frankincense (Boswellia carterii)
3 drops Neroli (Citrus bigaradia) – a touch of luxury, or use the cheaper Geranium (Pelagonium x asperum).
2 Sandalwood – sustainably sourced (Santalum austrocaledonicum)
Drop the essential oils into your bottle / jar. Add the vegetable oils and & mix well. A blissful present is created!
Spirit Soar Bath Oil – to ease those stressful moments
50 sterilised glass bottle
25ml sunflower oil
25ml apricot kernel oil
Essential oils (at 2% of the total blend):-
8 drops Bergamot (Citrus aurantium ssp bergamia)
6 drops Frankincense (Boswellia carterii)
6 drops Palmarosa (Cympopogon martinii)
4 drops Petitgrain (Citrus aurantium)
Drop the essential oils into your bottle. Add the vegetable oils and & shake well. Ta dah!
Anxiety Away Inhalation
Emotional responses to essential oil aromas vary widely. If the festive preparations are proving more stressful than than joyful try dropping essential oils on a tissue to gently inhale (or add a total of 10-12 drops to an aroma inhaler):-
2 drops Frankincense (Boswellia carterii)
1-2 drops Lemon (Citrus limonum)
1 drop Myrrh (Commiphora molmol)
• Battaglia S (1995) The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy (2nd edition), Brisbane Australia: The International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy
• Baeten J, Deforce K et al (2014) Holy Smoke in medieval funerary rites: chemical fingerprints of frankincense in southern Belgium incense burners, PLoS one 2014 Nov 12;9(11):e113142 Doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113142 eCollection. Accessed 12/10/15, available from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25391130
• Bowles EJ (2003) The Chemistry of Aromatherapeutic Oils (3rd edition), Crows Nest Australia: Allen & Unwin
• Graves J (2012) The Language of Plants: a guide to the doctrine of signatures, Great Barrington MA: Lindisfarne Books
• Mojay G (1996) Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit, London UK: Gaia Books
• Mostafa DM, Ammar NM at al (2015) Boswelllia carterii Liquisolid Systems with Promoted Anti-inflammaotry Activity, Curr Durug Deliv, 2015: 12(4):454-63. Accessed 12/10/15, available from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25895614
• Price S and Price P (2012) Aromatherapy for Health Professionals (4th edition), Edinburgh, London, New York (etc): Churchill Livingstone Elsevier
• Tisserand R & Young R (2014) Essential Oil Safety (2nd edition), Edinburgh, London, New York (etc): Churchill Livingstone Elsevier