What do the “gifts” of the Three Magi mean in medicine?

Historically, gold was used in dentistry. Its most obvious application is dental restoration.

Myrrh, gold and incense. Gifts of the Three Magi to the Baby Jesus. Photo: Shutterstock.

Frankincense, myrrh and gold were the three gifts that, according to religion, the Three Wise Men brought to Jesus at his birth. Throughout history, these three offerings have been considered by scientists for the health benefits each has, as clinical studies have shown they can help treat arthritis, asthma, and even cancer.

Scientific research

Frankincense (frankincense) and myrrh are still the subject of study by Somali-born scientist Dr. Ahmed Ali of Cardiff University, UK, as both gifts have healing properties. For this reason, he devoted himself to developing drugs to solve problems ranging from cancer to wrinkles.

In fact, through his research, Dr. Ali discovered that Somali incense has a different chemical profile compared to other types of incense and can be used in a variety of healing modalities.

“We found that when a variety of Somali frankincense is extracted, it can be used to mitigate the effects of cancer cell metastases in vitro. So it can stop the spread of cancer,” he said.

The healing properties of myrrh

Myrrh is also being studied for its potential anti-cancer properties, especially the type known as aromatic myrrh. Thus, Professor Richard Clarkson, who worked with Ali on this research, indicates that these discoveries could be the breakthrough needed in cancer research.

“In a general sense, identifying new drugs and new agents that could stop the spread of cancer throughout the body is very desirable, but very difficult to implement at the clinical level,” he noted, explaining that these clinical studies are lengthy. , expensive and difficult.

And the professor says that finding something that targets and kills cancer cells without harming healthy cells is one of the most difficult tasks to be done in laboratories.

“If you’re looking for a combination of something like myrrh extract, which targets cancer cells and kills them without harming healthy cells, with frankincense extract, which stops cancer from spreading further, then this could be a great option.” combination,” he said.

Anti-inflammatory potential

Among the discovered benefits of Somali incense, a team of researchers led by Dr. Ali found that it can be used to stop inflammation and swelling.

“It can be used for arthritis. It also appears to be particularly effective in reducing symptoms of ulcerative colitisinflammatory bowel disease.”

Additionally, he added that frankincense can also help prevent gum disease. However, it is important to recognize that much of this research is still recent and currently limited to laboratories.

Three elements with many uses

Following the same line of research, Dr Rachel Gillibrand, professor of the history of medicine at Aberystwyth University, said she was surprised by some of the ways the three substances had been used previously.

“Olibanum was not used for just one thing. It seems to have been used for several different ailments,” he emphasized. “Myrrh is a little more interesting: it is never used alone, it is always combined with other things. It is mixed with other herbs, for example in syrup, and prescribed to treat asthma.”

He even noted that myrrh was mixed with juniper berries and rum to treat parasites in young people during the Victorian era.

Gold medical equipment

As Dr. Gillibrand notes, gold is a little different from myrrh and frankincense, but it also has some medicinal benefits.

On the other hand, gold is a little different, but from a medical point of view it also has its own benefits. Hippocrates, for example, prescribed the use of gold in dentistry, and centuries later gold is still used in this field in some parts of the world.

“During excavations in Greece, the skull of a Greek soldier was discovered. The soldier had previously been wounded in battle, and his jaw was bandaged with gold thread,” he added. “It just goes to show that these weren’t just things written down, they were actually practiced.”

Between medicine and religion

Gold plays a critical role in cancer treatment as it is an inert metal that during radiation therapy is used to charge tumors, thereby improving the absorption of X-rays and increasing the effectiveness of treatment.

Two thousand years ago, gifts given had different meanings. Both frankincense and myrrh, used as incense, may have been offerings to the baby Jesus. In addition, myrrh had other uses as it was used as embalming oil, and gold, valued primarily for its attractiveness, also had religious significance associated with the role of prophet, priest, and king Jesus in Christianity.

In traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, frankincense and myrrh have been combined for thousands of years, according to the authors of the published article, “Seeing the Invisible in the Combination of Two Natural Resins, Frankincense and Myrrh: Changes in Chemical Components and Pharmacological Activity.” in 2019 in the specialized journal Molecules.

This combination has been shown to have a stronger therapeutic effect compared to the individual use of these elements, demonstrating synergistic properties in areas such as anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, analgesic, antibacterial and blood activation. These findings highlight the historical richness and versatility of these gifts in different cultural and medical contexts.

Source consulted here.

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