Healing Oils of the Bible
An article written by Suzanne Le Quesne
for the IFA – International Federation of Aromatherapists – January, 2014
The Healing Oils of the Bible – Part 1
Frankincense, Myrrh, Hyssop, Spikenard, Cedarwood and Myrtle
by Suzanne Le Quesne – Clinical Aromatherapist
Suzanne Le Quesne trained as an Aromatherapist in 1991 with Eve Taylor and more recently completed training in the Raindrop Technique with Dr. David Stewart, author of The Healing Oils of the Bible, She is a therapist, trainer and is co-author of the book The Essential Guide to Holistic and Complementary Therapy. (Cengage Learning). She is currently teaching The Raindrop Technique using The Healing Oils of the Bible, throughout Europe.
Did you know that there are more than one thousand references to essential oils, aromatic oil-producing plants, and their applications in the Bible – including at least 33 species? In this 2 part article I shall tell you about the 12 most mentioned oils. Essential oils are referenced in both the Old and New Testaments, as the oils of plants were part of daily living among Israelites, Jews, early Christians, and their Gentile neighbours throughout Biblical times
‘The leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations’ Revelation 22:2
It is clear from the Bible that the oils from plants were used for many purposes. The fatty oils, such as olive, almond, and flaxseed served as food and fuel for light. The aromatic or essential oils were used to cleanse, protect and heal. They were also used for emotional release, spiritual enlightenment, the prevention of disease, perfumes, incense, anointing, burial, embalming and as flavourings for food.
Plants were put on the earth to be used as medicines. The medicines manufactured by man cannot compare with the healing capabilities of essential oils from plants. Man-made pharmaceuticals lack the life force, the intelligence, and the vibrational energy found in pure essential oils. All synthetic prescriptions have undesirable side effects, even when taken according to a doctor’s instructions. Furthermore, when a combination of drugs are taken at the same time, they work in disharmony and dangerous reactions often occur. Tens of thousands of people die every year from prescription medicines, not because they overdosed or failed to follow directions, but because man-made drugs are inherently dangerous.
We will start our ‘Healing Oils of the Bible’ journey with Frankincense and Myrrh, as these are the most mentioned oils.
The Sweet Incense – Exodus 30:34 ‘And the Lord said to Moses, take unto thee sweet spices, stacte, and onycha, and galbanum: these sweet spices with pure frankincense: of each there shall be a like weight’
There are over 52 direct references to frankincense and myrrh in the Bible. Frankincense is also known as ‘olibanum’ – oil from Lebanon. Frankincense has been considered the premier Holy Anointing Oil for thousands of years, and is thought to facilitate the connection between one and the Divine.
Ancient Uses: Used in the Holy Anointing Oil (Exodus 30: 23-33) and the Holy Incense (Exodus 30: 34-38) and used to enhance meditation and elevate spiritual consciousness. It was also thought to assist in the transition of death, and used for embalming, perfume and as a cure all!.
Modern Uses: Helps maintain normal cellular regeneration; anti-tumoral; anti-depressant, allergies, headaches, bronchitis, herpes, immune stimulant, increases spiritual awareness, promotes mediation and improves attitude. It is particularly useful for asthma and ulcers and may also be used for many types of inflammatory conditions. It is one of the best pulmonary antiseptics used today in aromatherapy. It can also be used for symptoms of agitation, anxiety and irritability.
Chemistry: 64-90% monoterpenes and 5-10% sesquiterpenses.
Biblical references: Exodus 30:34; Leviticus 2:1, 1, 15, 16; 5:11; 6:15; 24:7, Numbers 5:15; 16: 46-50 (Aaron stops a plague), 1 Chron 9:29, Nehemiah 13:15 9: Song of Solomon 3:6; 4:6, 14 Isaiah 59:20; 60:3, 6; 66:3; Jeremiah 6:20; 17:26; 41:5; Matthew 2:11; Revelations 18:13
Myrrh – (Commiphora myrrha)
Joseph and Nicodemus Bury Jesus – John 19:39 – ‘And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and bought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pound weight’.
The first time a specific essential oil is mentioned is in Genesis 37:25 in the story of Joseph, when a caravan of Midianite traders, on their way to Egypt, passed by carrying ‘spicery, balm and myrrh’. Altogether there are 235 references to Myrrh and Frankincense in the Bible.
Family – Burceraceae
Ancient uses: Pregnant mothers anointed themselves for protection against infectious diseases and to elevate feelings of well-being. They also believed it would protect their unborn children from generational curses. Also used for skin conditions, oral hygiene, embalming and as an insect repellent.
Modern uses: Antiseptic, balancing to thyroid and endocrine system, supports the immune system. Also beneficial for bronchitis, diarrhoea, thrush, athletes foot, ring worm, viral hepatitis, chapped skin and wrinkles. It is also emotionally releasing.
Chemistry: Myrrh has 62% sesquiterpenes that stimulate the limbic system, the hypothalamus, pineal and pituitary glands.
Biblical references: Genesis 37:25, 43:11, Exodus 30:23, Esther 2:12, Psalms 45:8, Proverbs 7:17, Son of Solomon 1:13, 3:3 4:6, 4:14, 5:1, 5:13, Matthew 2:11, John 19:39-42, Mark 15:24
Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)
A Plea for Cleansing – Psalms 51:7 – King David says ‘purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow’
Hyssop is mentioned 12 times in the Bible. In Exodus 12:22 Moses asked the elders of Israel to ‘sacrifice a lamb and use a branch of hyssop to apply the blood of the lamb to the door posts of their dwellings’. This was the first Passover. The fragrance of hyssop was considered to be spiritually purifying and an aid in cleansing oneself from sin, immorality, evil thoughts, or bad habits.
Ancient uses: Spiritually cleansing, help for focusing the mind in mediation, used for addictions and destructive habits; various medicines, respiratory relief, decongestant, expectorant, and thought to repel evil spirits. (During the Passover, the Israelites struck the posts and lintels of their doorways with a branch of hyssop releasing its aromatic oils, along with the lamb’s blood, as protection from the Angel of Death).
Modern uses: Hyssop is used to relieve anxiety, arthritis, asthma, respiratory infections, parasites, sore throats, cuts and wounds. It also metabolises fat, increases perspiration, and is detoxifying and emotionally balancing. Its aroma stimulates creativity and meditation by its moderate amount of sesquiterpenes.
Chemistry: Ketones 48%, Monoterpenes 30%, Sesquiterpenes 8%, Phenols 4%, alcohols 2%
Bible references: Exodus 12:22, Leviticus 12:22, 14:4, 6, 49, 51, 52; Numbers 19:6, 18; 1 Kings 4:33; Hebrews 9;19
Spikenard (Nardostachys jatamansi)
Mary anoints the feet of Jesus – John 12:3 ‘Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment’
Spikenard is mentioned in the Bible 7 times and was the last oil received by Jesus before going to the cross. The application of both spikenard and myrrh in the last week of Jesus’ life has some interesting implications. Both of these oils are known for their ability to heal wounds and scar tissue. In John 12:3-7 where Jesus is anointed by Mary, the sister of Lazarus, six days before his death, Judas objects to such a valuable commodity being used to anoint Jesus feet when it could have been sold for a substantial amount and distributed to the poor. Jesus’ response to Judas was to say ‘Leave her alone, she bought it for the day of my burial’.
Ancient uses: Perfumes, medicines, skin tonic, incense, mood enhancer, reducesd anxiety. Heals scar tissue. One of the last oils to be received by Jesus before being arrested and going to the cross. Perhaps to help prepare him for his ordeal. Applied as a ¡precious ointment’ in combination with Myrrh.
Modern uses: Spikenard is used to support – allergies, migraine, nausea, cardiovascular support in that it aids palpitations and tachycardia It is also relaxing, soothing, emotionally calming, mood elevating and can regenerate the skin.
Chemistry: 50%Sesqiterpenes, 36% Monoterpenes, 2% Phenols, 2% Coumarins, 2% Oxides, and 1% Carboxylic Acids
Bible references: Song of Solomon 1:12, 4:13, 4:14; Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9, John 12:3-7, and Luke 7:37-49, John 12:3, Luke 7:37-49.
Cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica)
The Building of Solomon’s Temple – I Kings 6:9-10 ‘So he built the house, and finished it: and covered the house with beams and boards of cedar. And then he built chambers against the house, five cubits high: and they rested on the house with timber of cedar’.
Cedarwood maybe the most ancient of distilled oils, as it was used for embalming more than 5,000 years ago. There are many references in the Bible to cedarwood as the material out of which houses and temples were made. Solomon’s palace and temple was known as the ‘house of the Forest of Lebanon’. King David refers to the ‘cedars of Lebanon’ as the ‘the Trees of the Lord’ in Psalms 104:16
Ancient Uses: Cleansing of lepers, ritual cleansing after touching anything ‘unclean’ such as a dead body or something considered having evil spirits. It was also used in cosmetics, embalming, for skin problems and added to various medicines. It was also used for building because of the calming effects that came from the wood’s natural oils.
Modern Uses: Insect repellent, hair loss, tuberculosis, bronchitis, gonorrhoea, skin disorders, enhances deep sleep by stimulating melatonin and promotes mental clarity. It is also used to assist emotional release
Chemistry: Sesquiterpene hydrocarbons 58%, sesquiterpene alcohols 22%, Sesquiterpene keytones 18%.
Biblical references: Leviticus 14:4, 6, 49, 51: Numbers 19:6, Ezekiel 17:3, Ezekiel 17:23
Myrtle (Myrtus communis)
Israel is Blessed by the Hand of the Lord – Isaiah 41:19 I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the shittah tree, and the myrtle, and the oil tree: I will set in the desert the fir tree and the pine, the box tree together:
In Jewish mysticism, the myrtle is one of four sacred plants of Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, and represents those who do good deeds despite not having knowledge from the study of the Torah.
Family: Myrtaceae (myrtle).
Ancient uses: religious ceremony, purification from ritual uncleanliness.
Modern uses: Thyroid and general hormone balances, soothing to the respiratory system, decongestant, sinus infections, tuberculosis, colds, flu, coughs, bronchitis, asthmas, skin conditions: acne, psoriasis, blemishes, bruises.
Chemistry:Monoterpenes 37%, 15% Esters, Alcohols 12%, Phenols 3%
Biblical references: Nehemiah 8:15 Isaiah 4119, 5513, Zechariah 1:8, 10, 11, Esther 2:7
In Part II of this article I shall tell you about another 6 healing oils of the Bible –
Cypress, Juniper, Galbanum, Onycha, Calamus and Cassia
The Holy Bible – King James Version
Healing Oils of the Bible – David Stewart
Vibrational Raindrop – Christi Bonds-Garrett