Travel & Aromatherapy – The Biblical Oils

The Biblical Oils
According to Christian lore, the 3 wise men strode into town on camels bearing the gifts of the Magi-frankincense, gold (thought to be olive oil) and myrrh. These precious materials are still valued in modern-day aromatherapy. Also mentioned in the Bible is spikenard.

Boswellia Carterii

Frankincense essential oil is obtained from the resin of the tree of the same name. This tree is native to the Middle East and North Africa and the best Frankincense is said to come from Oman.

Ancient cultures used Frankincense for both religious and ceremonial practices. (The word incense is derived from frankincense.) It is also used in perfumery as well as for fumigation and pharmaceutical purposes.

Frankincense has a variety of aromatherapeutic applications including but not limited to:


  • obsessive thinking
  • depression
  • meditation
  • stress


  • scars
  • asthma
  • bronchitis
  • aging skin


Olive Oil
Olea europaea
Mostly known as  a food item, olive oil is also great for dry skin and as a hair conditioner.


Commiphora molmol

Myrrh essential oil is also obtained from a resin. The bush that produces it is found in the Middle East, North Africa and northern India.

Both the Ancient Egyptians and Hebrews made use of myrrh for religious ceremonies.

Some of the aromatherapy uses for myrrh are as follows:

  • mouth ulcers, oral thrush
  • gum infections, gingivitis
  • dry, cracked, aging, mature skin
  • fear, panic, hysteria

Nardostachys jatamansi

Spikenard is obtained from a herb that grows primarily in the Himalayan mountains. This ancient aromatic was used by the early Egyptians, Hebrews and Hindus for ritual and medicinal purposes while the ancient Greeks and Romans used it in perfumery.

The most famous mention of spikenard is in the Gospel According to St. John. Here, Mary used the oil to anoint the feet of Jesus before the Last Supper.¹

As a member of the Valerian family, spikenard is ideal  for insomnia. It is also used for its regulating effect on the nervous system and heart.

In Jordan, by the river where Jesus was baptized, is a gift shop that sells a tourist version of the 3 gifts of the Magi.


Cooksley, V. (1996). Aromatherapy-A Lifetime Guide to Healing with Essential Oils. Paramus, NJ: Prentice Hall.

¹Mojay, G. (1997). Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit. London, UK: Gaia Books Limited.

Wildwood, C. (1996). The Encyclopedia of Aromatherapy. Rochester VT: Healing Arts Press.


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