I dedicate the following to my good friend and teacher Miles Coleman of Black Belt Herbs. He recently wrote of the following, prompting this blog entry. Thanks Miles!
In the Christmas story, Three Wise Men offered gifts of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh. In honor of that, lets consider two of those gifts from a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective: Frankincense (Pin Yin = Ru Xiang or Scientific term Boswellia serrata) on the left and Myrrh (Pin Yin = Mo Yao or Scientific term Commiphora Molmol).
Frankincense is also called olibanum for the tree it comes from, an aromatic substance which is used by burning as an incense and an ingredient in perfumes. Oil may also be extracted from the gum or resin of the tree. The medicinal uses vary, including that of an antiseptic, astringent, carminative, digestive, disinfectant, diuretic, emenagogue, expectorant, sedative, and tonic.
Myrrh also has many medicinal qualities like joint support for arthritis, digestive disorders, respiratory infections, painful menstruation, sore throats, asthma, coughs, and bad breath. As a topical, myrrh has been used to treat muscular pains, ulcers, sores, wounds, and bacterial and fungal skin infections to name a few. The resin is harvested by cutting through the outer bark of a tree species Commiphora myrrha, often found in Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean.
In TCM, resins are often used to treat wind cold damp or bi syndromes tor pain syndromes resulting from blockage of Qi and Blood or “Stagnation”. ”Evils” are often present as well. These two are always used together to create a “dui yao” or combination with mutually supporting and synergetic affects! Traditional Chinese Medicine finds this combination in virtually every bi or da ke (hit medicine) formula. Together, Frankincense and Myrrh move Stagnant Blood, Stagnant Qi, and dispel Wind Damp. In addition, they both are powerfully antiseptic and can regenerate flesh. In ancient times, when infection was a real killer, herbs like this were worth there weight in gold. Hence their value in all cultures was indeed royal and fit gifts for a King! Moreover, Mo Yao in Chinese translates as MEDICINE! It is said in TCM that the 5 stagnations are the mother of all disease, having herbs that handle 3 of the five is indeed… priceless, a truly valuable gift!
Frankincense and Myrrh, royal and highly treasured gifts both then and for today!
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