Incense and Myrrh: the healing gifts of the three wise men

Both resins, incense and myrrh, have been in trade in the Near East and Northern Africa for over 5000 years. It is believed that the Babylonians and the Assyrians used to burn them during religious ceremonies. The ancient Egyptians used to buy whole boats loaded with resins from the Phoenicians to cense and thurify, as insect repellent, perfume and in ointments, but they also were an important ingredient in the process of mummification. Myrrh oil was used by the Egyptian women for face skin rejuvenation and the incense was charred, ground and used for the typical Egyptian black eyeliner. Sacks of incense and pots with saplings for myrrh-yielding trees are shown on the wall decorations of a temple, dedicated to Queen Hatshepsut, who ruled Egypt in the course of almost two decades until her death around 480 B.C.

According to the Jewish Bible, from ancient times incense and myrrh have been vital ingredients in the ritual thurification of the sacred temples of Jerusalem. The ancient Greeks and Romans also imported large amounts of these resins which they used for the treatment of numerous illnesses and for censing during cremation ceremonies. At that time medics had already recognized and documented their antiseptic, anti-inflammation and analgesic characteristics, prescribing them for anything from poor digestion to chronic cough or bad breath. Myrrh appears more often than any other plant or substance in the scriptures of the Greek doctor Hippocrates, who revolutionised medicine during IV and III centuries B.C. The Roman historian and botanist Plinius Secundus, who recommends incense as antidote in case of hemlock poisoning, writes in I century B.C. that the expensive dried tree sap has made the southern Arabs the richest people in the world.

At the time when it is believed that Jesus was born, incense and myrrh probably costed more than their weight in gold – the third gift, brought by the three wise men. But despite their importance in the New Testament, these resins have lost their allure with the rise of Christianity and the fall of the Roman Empire which erased the prospering trading routes that have been developed in the course of many centuries. In the early years of Christianity incense was expressly forbidden due to its association with the pagan worship. Later, however, some denominations, including the Catholic church would integrate the burning of incense and myrrh into their specific rites and rituals.

Myrrh and incense today

Both resins are often used in the traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurveda and aromatherapy. Many popular organic toothpastes contain myrrh as it has been time-tested as an aid for healthy teeth and gums since ancient times.

In a number of clinical and laboratory studies, made over the last two decades, incense and myrrh have shown good prospects for treatment of many common diseases. Incense has been tested as a possible treatment for some types of cancer, ulcerous colitis, the Crohn’s disease, anxiety and asthma among others. 

Incense and myrrh come from the same family of plants (Burseraceae) and grow as small shrub-like trees in dry climate like India, Oman, Ethiopia, Somalia, Yemen and Saudi Arabia. From over 5000 years the resin from these two trees has been used both for medical and for spiritual practises for a good reason.


Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha) is extracted from the Commiphora Mukul tree and it has a natural healing scent. Presently it is often used in many skin creams, toothpastes and other cosmetic products but this is just the start of its wide application scope.

Health benefits: Antiseptic, antifungal and anti-infammatory, antidepressant, antimicrobial and anti-virus, tightening, expectorant, stimulating, carminative, digestive, anti-catarrhal, sudoriferous, anti-spasmatic, immune system boosting qualities, it improves blood circulation, body tonic.


* has calming effect, for spiritual awakening, thought stimulation

* heals open wounds, protects against infection and accelerates recovery

* skin problems (eczema, trichophytia, etc.)

* soothes chapped and flaky skin, fades scars and other skin spots

* used prior and during meditation to align energy centres and to enhance healing

* used for gum treatment and mouth ulcers

* stimulates womb health and helps to regulate periods, relieves cramps and spasms (pains, etc.)

* relieves gases and diarrhea, improves gut health, cures pyorrhea

* strengthens and activates the immune system, prevents / helps in case of microbic infection (fever, food poisoning, coughing, cold, parotitis, measles, chickenpox, etc.)

* protects gums from receding, strengthens the scalp and hair roots

* protects against cough and cold (virus infections), relieves mucus and sputum, heavy breathing, etc.

* acts as a fungicide

*stimulates blood circulation, digestion and nerves, increases sweating for body detox.


As soon as you feel the warm, rich, sweet wooden scent of the incense, you realise how special this plant is. Both as resin and as essential oil, incense opens and relaxes your body and your mind alike.

Health benefits: Antiseptic, disinfectant, tightening, carminative, cicatrizant (wound closing), cytophilactic (stimulating cells growth and regeneration), digestive, diuretic, emmenagogue (increases the blood flow in menstruation), expectorant, tranquilising, tonic and anti-inflammatory effects.


* has calming effect (great for insomnia), awakens the mind for revelations, relieves anxiety, anger and stress

* skin tonic and booster, it heals and protects skin (from boils, wounds, acne, and other skin conditions), fades and heals scars

* relieves rheumatic pains, arthrite, reduces inflammation

* eliminates microbes (either through resin burning or local treatment with oil)

* strengthens the gums, hair roots, contracts muscles, guts and blood vessels (tightens and tonifies)

* improves poor digestion and relieves gases, unusual sweating, anxiety

* stimulates the regeneration of healthy cells and maintains the health of existing cells and tissues

* stimulates urination for body cleansing and relieves swelling

* helps with obstructed or delayed menstruation as well as slows down menopause, relieves PMS symptoms (abdominal pain, nausea, headache, fatigue, etc.), regulates the production of estrogen

* relieves cough and sputus, bronchitis, nasal congestion

* reduces body pain, toothache, headache and high body temperature (fever), as side effects of a given disease

* acts as a tonic for all systems, functioning in our body: respiratory, digestive, nervous system and excretory system 

* allows for a faster absorption of nutrients in our body.

At Space and Rituals we have high quality resins for thurification. You can take advantage of their magical qualities to change the energy at home.

Author: Rositsa Georgieva