We are now in the Christmas season, and it seems like a great time to offer a unusual “Chinese Medical” insight into a familiar Christmas story, that of the Three Wise Men. As the story goes, these distinguished visitors traveled very far from their homes to give homage and bring special gifts to the site of the newly born Baby Jesus. They each bought a gift, which included Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh.
What curious gifts! Most people tend to think of the gifts in a spiritual sense, for example, Gold is a gift for a King. Other interpretations say that each gift represents some spiritual quality, such as prayer and virtue.
But what about viewing the gifts in a Chinese Medical perspective?
As it happens, both Myrrh and Frankincense are traditional Chinese Herbal medicines, often used in combination. As a side note, this is one of the great differences in Chinese Herbology versus Western Herbal tradition… Chinese Herbs are most often given in carefully constructed combinations with each other, where such things as the temperature, flavor, and nature of the herb blends synergistically with its companion
Myrrh (Mo Yao) and Frankincense (Ru Xiang) are such a pairing. What are they used for? Not for something a newborn baby might typically need, but more what a new Mother might use to help her body recover from the trials of birth. This pair of herbs are in the category of blood moving herbs, but they are also great pain relieving herbs, and could have been used either topically or internally. These are herbs traditionally used in after-childbirth care. They would have been considered highly expensive… rare and special gifts indeed. One of the best gifts a child can receive is that their Mother is well cared for. It seems that these men really were Wise!