Gifts of the Magi

At this time of year, we are often reminded about the story of the three wise men and their gifts of frankincense, myrrh, and gold. Many religious scholars have theories on the significance of these gifts. Some have suggested that the gifts of the magi might have actually been practical or even medicinal in nature. Based on my knowledge of natural medicine, I know that these were very wise gifts indeed.

Frankincense (Boswellia serrata)
Frankincense is a tree resin commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine. Since it has strong anti-inflammatory proprieties, it is beneficial in arthritis, asthma, and inflammatory bowels diseases. Some studies show that it is able to reduce pain and inflammation as good as NSAIDS but without irritating the stomach. It has also been shown to reduce symptoms in both Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn's disease similarly to mesalamine, a commonly used medication used for these conditions. Since it can inhibit 5-lipoxygenase thus reducing leukotriene synthesis, Boswellia can decrease asthmatic symptoms such as shortness of breath, wheezing and frequency of asthma attacks. Because boswellia is a resin it is not very bioavailable so it is recommended to use a form, which is compounded with phosphatidylcholine to increase absorption.

Myrrh (Commiphora molmol)
Myrrh like frankinscence is also prized for its anti-inflammatory properties. It is very beneficial this time of year as its typical application is in the treatment of pharygitis (sore throat) and sinusitis. Myrrh is often mixed with goldseal, poke root and echinacea to make the famous Naturopathic HEMP Formula, which is a must-have as we approach strep throat season. In addition, it is a potent antimicrobial and antiseptic for respiratory, gastrointestinal, vaginal, oral and skin infections. In fact, an Egyptian study found a certain extract of myrrh to be affective against various parasitic infections of the gut. Myrrh also makes the perfect addition to a mouthwash as it soothes sore gums and fights ginigivitis and peridontal disease.

Gold (Aurum metallicum)
As we approach the darker months, depression can become more apparent. In , aurum metallicum is a classic remedy for deep rooted depression. Those who have an aurum constitution have a tendency toward workaholism and achievement. Their depression arises from a strong sense of failure. This symptom picture is usually accompanied by nightmares and oversleeping that fluctuates with insomnia. Because of the serious nature of depression, it is crucial to seek a qualified practioner rather than prescribe your own homeopathic remedy. Besides using it constitutionally for depression, aurum also has acute applications for sinusitis that is aggravated from cold or winter. Moreover, an interesting study showed that aurum internasally can actually treat sitnusitis due to a nasal fungal infection. Other conditions that may benefit from aurum after proper assessment from a qualified practitioner include multiple sclerosis, autism, and stroke rehabilitation.