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Essential Oils - biblical roots and benefits

Essential oils have been a part of people lives for thousands of years. At least 33 essential oils and aromatic plants producing oil are mentioned in the bible. The word "incense" is mentioned 68 times in the Scripture. Setting aside the spiritual value of essential oils there is a tremendous importance surrounding their many uses.

Oils such frankincense, myrrh, rosemary, hyssop and spikenard were used for centuries for anointing and healing the sick. Moses and other Old Testament important figures use essential oils to anoint kings and leaders; priests use oils in their religious rituals.

There are mainly 12 oils with historic uses. Frankincense, Myrrh, Cinnamon, Cedarwood, Spikenard, Hyssop, Cassia, Sandalwood (aloes), Cypress, Galbanum, Rose of Sharon & Calamus.

This week we will discuss three of them: Frankincense, Myrrh & Cinnamon. We will follow up next week with information about the next three in our list and so on until we cover them all. These wonderful oils and their benefits were passed to us through generations. We use them today in alternative medicine and natural skincare. Here at Ballygarvan Soap & Candles we use these beautiful oils in the production of soaps, aromatherapy candles and skincare products. Here is some information about these very special oils:

Frankincense. Also known as the king of oils. It was used as part of the holy incense, as medicine and, at one time in the human history, as currency. It was also a gift from the wise men to baby Jesus. In fact, at the time of Jesus' birth, both frankincense and myrrh may have been worth more than their weight in gold. Frankincense oil is a powerful, effective and incredibly therapeutic essential oil. It is used to relieve chronic stress and anxiety, reduce pain and inflammation, boost immunity and even combat tumours. It increases the activity of leukocytes, the cells which help the body to fight infections. In a study published in 2011 it was found that frankincense oil has anti-inflammatory effects in the treatment of gingivitis and also to induce breast cancer cells death, suggesting that it is an effective adjuvant in fighting breast cancer. The main therapeutic compounds of frankincense are alpha-pinene, alpha-thujene and limonene. Frankincense is also known to have blood-thinning effects, so people with problems related to blood clotting should not use it before consulting their personal physician.

Myrrh. This oil is known to offer relief for colds, congestion, coughs, bronchitis and build up of phlegm. Inhaling its sedative scent is known to lift negative moods, promote wellbeing and grounding. In skincare products used topically, facilitates the healing of blemishes, soothes itchiness and is used in the treatment of eczema. Myrrh oil is effectively used in skin cleaning products & moisturizers as it tightens the skin preventing further chapping, cracking and sagging. Myrrh has antiseptic properties being able to kill harmful bacteria and aiding the healing of skin sores. Myrrh essential oil contains compounds that interact with the opioid receptors in your brain and will give your brain the signal that you are not in pain. Myrrh also blocks the production of inflammatory chemicals that can lead to swelling and pain. It is a very powerful anti-oxidant and aids in the fight against free radicals and pollution. Extensive research shows that essential myrrh oil may help kill or slow down the growth of cancer cells from the liver, prostate, breast and skin.

Cinnamon. Cinnamon or Cinnamomum Verum was used by Egyptians as early as 2000 BC as a perfuming agent during the embalming process. Cinnamon was even mentioned in the Old Testament as an ingredient in the holy anointing oil. Legend also has it that the Roman emperor Nero burned as much as he could find of the precious spice on the funeral pyre of his second wife Poppaea Sabina in A.D. 65 to atone for his role in her death. Cinnamon bark oil is extracted by steam distillation from the outer bark of the cinnamon tree and has been touted for its medicinal properties for thousands of years. The warm and intense aroma of the cinnamon bark can stimulate appetite and ignite the senses. Cinnamon bark oil is highly concentrated with antioxidants which makes it effective as a natural digestive aid, blood sugar stabilizer and circulation booster. It is also commonly used to combat cardiovascular diseases and to aid in fighting infections. A 2011 study found that 70% methanolic extract of cinnamon oil showed significant ability to enhance immune function by combatting oxidative stress. A 2012 study concluded that Cinnamomum Verum volatile oil applied either separately or in combination with other oil extracts had the most effective anti-microbial activity against certain infectious diseases. The main therapeutic compounds of Cinnamomum verum are cinnamaldehyde, eugenol, methileugenol and phellandrene. People with sensitive skin may experience skin irritation when using cinnamon oil topically or internally. Test a small amount first mixed with a carrier oil before using it.

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