Wellbeing benefits of gold, frankincense and myrrh

Woman enjoying gold face mask

Gold, frankincense and myrrh play a starring role in the nativity story, but did you know that all three of these ingredients can shine in your wellbeing routine too?

We’ve done some digging to find out just how gold, frankincense and myrrh have been used in the world of health and wellbeing for hundreds – if not thousands of years – and just how you can incorporate them into your daily routine.

Gold and wellbeing

Gold has long been considered the king of metals and its healing properties have been hailed for more than 5,000 years.

Ancient Alexandrian alchemists developed an elixir of liquid gold to purify, rejuvenate and cure. It was also used in dentistry in ancient Egypt and modern dentists still favour gold for crowns, thanks to its lack of toxicity and the fact that it doesn’t wear, corrode or tarnish.

In medieval Europe, gold-coated pills and waters were used to ‘comfort sore limbs’, aka arthritis, while early 20th century surgeons often implanted a shred of gold close to an arthritic joint to ease inflammation. In Renaissance times, Paracelsus, the father of modern pharmacy, used gold to make medicines.

How is gold used in beauty treatments?

Cleopatra is said to have slept in a mask of gold leaf and some Hollywood celebrities are reputedly fans of a Gold Bee Venom Facial that claims to lift and brighten the face using a bee venom cream made with a form of colloidal gold (a water-based suspension of nanoparticle gold).

Gold-infused skincare isn’t just for celebrities though, and nowadays you can buy masks, moisturisers and serums all infused with 24 carat gold. Why? It’s claimed that gold is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory so could help to reduce redness.  

Frankincense and wellbeing

Frankincense, or olibanum, is a cloudy resin derived from Boswelia sacra trees, with a warm, deep, rich aroma and equally long and honourable pedigree.

Traded throughout the Mediterranean in ancient times, when it was deemed more precious than gold, this sweet-smelling resin is still used today in everything from incense to beauty treatments.

Ancient Egyptian women mixed its ground charred ash into kohl eyeline and while traces of frankincense were discovered in 2014 by archaeologists from Bradford University at four Roman burial sites. It was both a gift to and from the gods, used to purify the dead and help usher them into the afterlife.

How is frankincense used today?

Frankincense oil is still a favoured ingredient of exotically spicy perfumes and some youth-promoting face creams.

Nowadays frankincense oil is feted around the world for its calming meditative aroma, more usually used in a fragrance diffuser or for a candle aroma. You can also buy it in granular form and burned in a fragrance burner or added to an open fire to scent the room.  

Myrrh and wellbeing

Myrrh is an essential oil, gum or resin that comes from the Commiphora species, a woody shrub native to Somalia and Ethiopia. Known in Bibilcal times as a holy oil, perfume ingredient and incense, it was used medicinally in Greece, China and the Middle East to treat wounds and coughs. Ancient Egyptians referred to the resin as the ‘tears of Horus’, a reference to their god of the sun and kingship.

The ancient Sumerians used it to treat infected teeth and worms and in medieval times it was used as a chest rub for treating bronchitis, healing ulcers and wounds.

How is myrrh used today?

Nowadays, these traditional medicinal uses are bearing fruit for modern researchers: myrrh has been shown to improve glucose tolerance (important for diabetics), lower the ‘bad’ form of cholesterol and improve ‘good’ cholesterol levels and even to have an analgesic effect.

Myrrh can also be found in special dressings to treat tendonitis. A highly-prized perfumery oil, it’s especially used to scent male grooming products, including shaving oils, aftershaves and colognes.

The essential oil has a warm, spicy, aroma said to stimulate inspiration and provoke creativity.

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