Frankincense and myrrh will forever be associated with Christmas, as they were two of the gifts brought to Jesus by the three wise men. But many people don’t realise their cleansing and anti-aging properties. Here Sara Linklett explains how you can use them at home. 


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Every school child knows that the three wise men brought Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. While we’re all familiar with gold, lots of us don’t have a clue about the other two presents - even though they are two of the best known aromatic herbs in the Bible.

Did you know that essential oils are extracted from frankincense and myrrh that contain healing properties? These help protect the plants and trees and can also be beneficial for us.

The two herbs are aromatic resins that have many uses for us in our homes – but first, a word of warning. Essential oils should never be used alone but must be diluted as they are so concentrated. Pregnant and nursing mothers should be especially cautious and as should pet owners.

There are many varieties of frankincense and they all have anti ageing properties so they are ideal for night oils and cleansing oils. Myrrh, which is a resin from a tree, also moisturises and can be used in the same way. It is especially good for mature skin.

Myrrh, which is a resin from a tree, moisturises and is especially good for mature skin.

Simply add 12 drops of frankincense or myrrh essential oil to 1 fluid ounce of carrier oil – like olive oil, sweet coconut oil or almond oil. To cleanse your face at the end of the day massage the oil, using upward strokes and wipe away with a damp flannel. It is just as cleansing as soap and water but far kinder to skin.

You can mix your own bath oils in the same way. Frankincense has a sweet woody smell, and myrrh has more of an earthy aroma. Some aromatherapists like to mix them with other essential oils like citric or lavender.

Both frankincense and myrrh also have antiseptic and disinfectant properties with antimicrobial effects. They can be used in diffusers to help to clean the air. The physical health benefits may be quite small but many people find that their fragrance has a significant effect on their mental and emotional well-being as they feel that it is calming.

We are caring so much more about the choices we make in our homes that affect the world around us. To avoid toxic cleaners like bleach, try mixing water, white vinegar, soap and a few drops of essential oils. Steam cleaners offer a very effective solution to our decision to become more kind to the environment. They are effective on their own, killing germs and making it easy to wipe even hard to get to places clean. Adding a few drops of essential oils make them even more effective and make cleaning a more pleasant job.

Both frankincense and myrrh have antiseptic and disinfectant properties - they can be used in diffusers to help to clean the air.

There is such a joy in mixing oils for our health and beauty but is this a little self-indulgent to spend so much time and money on ourselves? A tiny bottle of frankincense or myrrh essential oil can be quite expensive but it will last a very long time as long as it is stored in a cool, dark place. Buying these products means that we are supporting farmers in developing countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Many are described as ‘organic’ but even the ones that are not may be grown naturally – it is just that the grower cannot afford the licence that permits this label. And the impact on the environment is light since they are transported in small, highly concentrated quantities.

So buying essential oils to use for ourselves and our homes is a good ethical choice. They can be mixed and stored in small glass jars, ready to give as gifts or sold at church bazaars. And this Christmas I will be using the essential oils of frankincense and myrrh at home. We will be reminded of the presents that the wise men brought and celebrate God’s greatest gift of all. His son, Jesus.