Healing gifts of the Three Magi

Today, the Christian world celebrates Christmas. And considering the marathon of activities that now seem to kick off the day after you carve your Thanksgiving turkey, you may be ready to put Christmas behind you.

But in European traditions, the Christmas season is not really over until the Epiphany. On January 6th,  the three Asian seers arrived from afar. In England, this is known as the Twelve Days of Christmas. In Germany it’s called “Heliger Drie Koniger.” The Greeks celebrate a similar tradition.

As the story goes, the Three Magi (those three oh-so-wise men), came bearing their gifts from the East: gold, frankincense and myrrh.

What you may not know is that each gift has proven health benefits—particularly for painful, inflammatory conditions like arthritis.

In fact, gold colloid instilled directly into joints was once a very effective treatment for arthritis. Gold has become more and more expensive, however. So those looking for a cost-effective natural remedy rarely turn to gold colloid.

So, how about frankincense?

Sure, it smells good, but it has been valued for its healing properties in Asia for centuries. Frankincense got its name in Europe when Frankish King Frederick Barbarossa brought it back from one of the Crusades.

The incense in Frankincense comes from the dried resin. Upon burning, it produces a fragrant perfume. In the Middle Ages, Europeans used it to cover up the bad smells found in crowded places, such as Church (and returning Crusaders).

Modern research suggests that frankincense (also known as Boswellia) helps reduce inflammation throughout the body. In fact, one recent study shows that Boswellia extract blocks a key enzyme that causes inflammation.  

The third Wise Man brought myrrh to the Epiphany. For centuries, people with joint discomfort have also reported that applying a salve of myrrh (from the Commiphora mukul gum tree) helps ease pain. Myrrh is found in abundance in the Middle East, where it is valued for its anti-inflammatory effects.

On Thursday, you’ll learn about another holiday treat that dramatically improves blood vessel function in heart patients in just four weeks. Stay tuned for that and much more.

In the meantime, best wishes for a healthy and happy holiday.

“Boswellic acids (components of frankincense) as the active principle in treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases,” Wien Med Wochenschr. 2002; 152(15-16): 373-378
“A double blind, randomized, placebo controlled study of the efficacy and safety of 5-Loxin ® for treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee.” Arthritis Research & Therapy 2008; 10(4):R85