We’re all familiar with the story of the first Christmas and the birth of a child in a stable in Bethlehem more than two millennia ago — but this was no ordinary birth.
The woman was pure in both spirit and in body: She was a virgin, and she delivered a newborn of enormous value to the world. This child is no mere mortal. This child was of both man and God.
This infant, who was called Jesus, was the Son of God.
News traveled of this inexplicable virgin birth, and three notable scholars of the time — Gaspar, Balthasar and Melchior — followed a luminous star that persisted in the western heavens and guided them to the simple stable where mankind’s greatest gift had been delivered to Mary.
These kings, who come to be known as The Three Wise Men, traveled a great distance to honor the newborn King, who had been sent by God to heal His world.
- Gaspar of Ethiopia presented the child a gift of frankincense, a perfume.
- Melchior, who hailed from the Arabian Peninsula, bestowed gold, a precious metal.
- Balthazar, who traveled from Tarsus — located in what is now south-central Turkey — gave the child myrrh, a resin used as anointing oil.
But what is the meaning behind these gifts?
In the ancient world, these were standard treasures presented to a king or a deity, but some scholars and theologians — and even scientists — believe the trio of profoundly wise men actually gave the Son of God something even more valuable: a first aid kit, which He would need on the first-ever humanitarian effort on earth.
Researchers at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom, studied the viability of an extract from frankincense for treating the pain of arthritis.
Research showed that frankincense inhibits the production of key inflammatory molecules, which helps prevent the breakdown of the cartilage tissue which causes the condition.
Studies on the curative powers of gold conducted at MD Anderson Cancer Center, Rice University in Texas and other institutes have shown gold nanoparticles to have antioxidative effects — and even accelerate wound healing. Some oncologists now use gold as a part of a cancer therapy by injecting the tumor with ultra-tiny, gold-wrapped spheres and blasting it with near-infrared light: The nanoparticles convert the light into heat, and as temperatures in the tumor rise above 104 degrees Fahrenheit, the cancer cells shrink and then disintegrate.
For aromachologists and herbalists, hard science only proves what they already knew.
Christina Deneka says she considers the trio of gifts bestowed on the newborn to be “the ancient ‘gold standard’” of medicinal substances.
“In my experience working with essential oils and botanicals over the years, I have seen firsthand the incredible power and versatility of various ingredients offering literally hundreds of different and often seemingly unrelated uses,” says Deneka, who formulates her Hollow Daze Surf Designs natural skincare line using all-natural high quality ingredients.
“Frankincense and myrrh are no exception, and, in ancient times were used variously for salves, perfume, embalming, insect repellent, incense and cosmetics. …I am particularly wowed by the ability of frankincense to help with some fine lines and even wrinkles and the ability of myrrh to help with the elasticity of the skin.”
The Hatteras-based skincare line includes Frankincense Facial Serum, a companion Frankincense Facial Toner and a solid lotion stick, “which helps support the delicate under-eye area,” Deneka says.
Shree’ Fulcher, a holistic healer who lives in Southern Shores, says she often incorporates frankincense and myrrh into her body work.
“The naturally healing nature of the earth’s medicine is often a forgotten reality, especially with the uprising of western medicine,” Fulcher says. “Personally, I go to earth and energy-based approaches for relief first and find myself using western practices less and less.”
Frankincense, she says, “is one of the most beneficial oils that can be used. I use it to relax and deepen meditation, which is my connection to the divine. Other uses are help with cellular rejuvenation, assistance in recovery from cuts, scars, stretch marks, aging and/or dry skin and acne. It has also been said to have an effect on respiratory wellness, gum-health, strengthening of hair/roots, and the fighting of infection, disease, tumors and even cancer.”
Myrrh, too, has many uses, Fulcher says.
“I imagine that Jesus used this, along with frankincense, for many things in his lifetime, including as an anti-fungal, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and astringent oil,” Fulcher says.
“Myrrh can be a great addition to skin and gum-health practices, as well as an aid in assisting the immune and respiratory systems.
Daily use can help with a number of ailments —and the great thing about essential oils is that you can experience their benefits by just smelling them.”
The magic of aromatherapy is that the oils don’t even have to touch you, in order to enter the bloodstream, she says. “So, find a nice diffuser and push that magic into the air you breathe.”
As for gold, it is more than a commodity — a proven, long-term wealth store, Fulcher adds.
“Twenty-four karat gold is a potent and powerful healer, assisting in all kinds of positive practices, including lymphatic drainage, oxygenation, and stimulation of cellular growth, not to mention it has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, as well,” she says.
It’s no wonder these were the gifts chosen for the Son of God, she says.
“It’s also no surprise that Jesus became the healer that he became, being treated like a king and showered in this potent earth-medicine from birth,” Fulcher says.
“What a blessing, what a gift — what a beautiful story of healing.”