Gifts of Frankinsence, Myrrh and Gold
Three Magi Medicinal Gifts
I have always been fascinated with the story Jesus’s birth and our world’s celebration of Christmas. Today, more than 2 billion people in more than 160 countries consider Christmas to be the most important holiday of the year. In the United States, 9 in 10 people celebrate the holiday—even if they are not Christian. One of the most consistent traditions practiced all at this time, is the giving of gifts as a symbolic celebration of Jesus Christ’s birth.
The Magi and their Gifts
Since the early days of Christianity, many have offered interpretations of the meaning and significance of frankincense, myrrh and gold that the three magi presented to Jesus, according to the Gospel of Matthew (2:11).
They were standard gifts at this time to honour a king or deity in the ancient world: gold being the most precious metal of the time, and still is; frankincense as a perfume or incense; and myrrh was used as an anointing oil. However, it is also likely that these symbolic gifts had practical value for the birthing of a baby. Frankincense, myrrh and gold (saffron) all have potent medicinal properties helpful for mother and child after birth.
Medicinal Gifts of Frankincense, Myrrh and Gold
The magi are often referred to as Three Wise Men or Three Kings. With the possibility that they came bearing gifts of medicinal herbs there is a also high likelihood they were “Wise herbalists” or “Mid-wives”. They travelled far to be with Mother Mary at the time of her birthing, most likely from nearby areas of Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the Yemen. Their gifts are all native to these areas.
Gold itself does not have medicinal properties, but the golden herb ‘saffron’ does. And it literally could be worth its weight in gold, where an ounce of saffron is more expensive than gold. There are other golden medicinal plants that I could have used, turmeric for example but it is native to India; or Golden Seal which is native to North America. So Saffron, being native to Persia seems to be the most likely of these three golden medicinal herbs .
When used medicinally it has anti-depressant (serotonergic) effects, hormone balancing (neuro-endocrine) influence, anti-inflammatory and has neuro-protective properties. All helpful for post-partum healing especially to combat post natal depression, restore hormone balance and vitality.
Mostly used as an essential oil, this traditional medicine of the Middle East has anti-inflammtory, expectorant, antiseptic, and even anxiolytic effects.
Myrrh is used medicinally as herbal tincture for its anti-bacterial and antiseptic properties. Mostly indicated for sore throats and mouth ulcers it can also be applied topically to help heal wounds.
As a potent antimicrobial herb which can be used for treating common candida albicans and staphylococcal infections it is understandable why this herb was given to baby Jesus. In fact midwives used to dab myrrh onto the cut umbilical cord of new born babes in the less hygienic environment of the past.
We will never know for sure whether the 3 magi gifts were symbolic, practical or both. I grew up believing they were symbolic and now as a medicinal herbalist I share with you a different perspective on the potentially healing benefits of these gifts.
I wish you all a very happy Christmas with maybe some symbolic and maybe some practical gifts. Peace, Love and Joy
Written by Sasha Wray Naturopath, Occupational Therapist and 5 Elements Acupressure Practitioner. Sasha has a special interest in women’s health, pain care and mental health concerns. With over 20 years experience her focus is to help people live well.