The origin of the word “spa” is generally attributed to the Belgian town of Spa, a town known for its centuries-old hot springs. Others believe that “spa” comes from the Latin acronym “Salus Per Aquam”, which means “Health Through Water”. In the 17th century, “spa” became accepted as a general name for hot springs and hydrotherapy centers. Spas can relieve stress, promote beautiful skin, and have been studied as treatments for many skin conditions. Here, we explore the healing benefits of medicated spa baths, focusing on the seasonal myrrh and frankincense herbs.
Myrrh and frankincense are utilized as healing herbs in both Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurvedic Medicine. Myrrh is a tree resin derived from the Commiphora species. Traditionally, myrrh has been used to reduce swelling, relieve pain, and heal wounds. In Ayurveda, it is used to reduce kapha and vata imbalances, and in TCM it is used as a blood-quickening herb. Traditionally, myrrh was thought to have rejuvenating properties for our skin. Modern-day laboratory tests show that it has antioxidant properties against singlet oxygen, a destructive free radical that develops during UVA (ultraviolet A) exposure from the sun. These studies also show that myrrh has both antioxidant and antifungal properties. In addition, the essential oils from myrrh are rich in terpenoids, a family of plant-based compounds that have anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing properties.
Frankincense is from the Boswellia family of plants, used traditionally for its antiseptic and astringent effects and to help smooth wrinkles in aging skin. It also contains multiple plant-based compounds that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects. And in a recent study, a topical frankincense cream was shown to improve fine lines on the face. In Ayurveda, it is used to reduce kapha and vata imbalances.
Both myrrh and frankincense are available in many forms including essential oils, hydrosols, bath salts, tinctures, powders, or as raw herbs. In TCM, myrrh and frankincense are frequently combined, as they are thought to be more powerful together than alone.
DIY: Rejuvenating Myrrh & Frankincense Bath
If you need some time to relax and get away from daily stresses, here is a way to create your own rejuvenating spa bath at home with myrrh and frankincense.
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 oz myrrh hydrosol
- 2 oz frankincense hydrosol
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar and honey blend (simply mix the two together)
- 2 oz myrrh and frankincense bath salts
- 5 – 10 drops myrrh essential oil
- 5 – 10 drops frankincense essential oil
Mix these ingredients together and pour the concoction into a bathtub filled with warm water and soak your stresses away. If you want to conserve water, the bathtub can be filled halfway.
Testing before the bath: Be sure to test the myrrh and frankincense products on a small patch of skin to see if you have an allergic response before getting in the bath. Please seek medical attention if you develop an allergy.