Some of the most sought after ancient fragrances were Frankincense (also known as olibanum) and Myrrh, both gum resins.
The Frankincense plant is a low small bush that generates a transparent yellowish resin from which the aromatic essence is extracted. Myrrh on the other hand is a tallish tree, which usually produces a reddish brown resin that is generally gathered from the trees in the summer.
Perhaps best known for their use in incense and ancient rituals, these substances—both of which boast proven antiseptic and inflammatory properties—were once considered effective remedies for everything from toothaches to leprosy. "We have textual—and also archaeological—evidence that both Frankincense and Myrrh were used as medicinal substances in antiquity” ( Alain Touwaide, a historian of medicine at the Institute for the Preservation of Medical Traditions and the Smithsonian Institution).
Besides its medicinal uses Frankincense was chewed by ancient Egyptians to clean their teeth and Myrrh oil as a rejuvenating facial treatment.
Today the resins are still used for their healing properties. For instance, both are commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurveda and aromatherapy.
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