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How was myrrh used in historical times?

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Quick Answer

In historical times, myrrh was used as a medicine, embalming agent and incense. Myrrh, which has been around for around 5,000 years, was used by the ancient Egyptians in the embalming of bodies and as a face cream.

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Ancient Greeks and Romans found that myrrh had anti-inflammatory and pain relief properties. Hippocrates, the famous Greek doctor, used it as an antiseptic and cough suppressant. Traditional Chinese medicine continues to use myrrh as a basic component. People still use myrrh in natural toothpastes, and studies suggest that the substance possibly helps to treat certain disease and disorders.

Along with its medicinal properties, myrrh was also historically used as incense in religious ceremonies. The practice dates back to ancient Babylonian and Assyrian religious rites. The Greeks and Romans also adopted the use of incense in their religious practices. Despite the gift of myrrh to Jesus Christ as a child, Christians looked down on its use because of its association with pagan religions. The Jews used myrrh and frankincense in their temples.

Myrrh, as well as frankincense, comes from the commiphora and boswellia trees that are native to the Arabian Peninsula and Middle East, spreading as far as southern China and North Africa.

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