Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Biblical Oils - Myrtle

Last week we talked about Fir, another evergreen tree used to make essential oils. Some Biblical translations speak of myrtle instead of fir in the references to this tree. So today we'll mention a little about Myrtle and how it stands out as being different from Fir.

One of the differences is the processing of this oil. Where as Fir came from the woody parts of the tree, this oil comes from the leaves of the plant.

It doesn't have a laundry list of things it does for the body, but it packs a mighty wallop. It can be used by itself singly, but is also found in several mixtures that are fantastic at helping different health issues. According to Essential Oils pocket reference and Reference Guide for Essential Oils it is known to stimulate the thyroid, liver, and prostate. It also fights sinus and lung congestion, skin irritations, and muscle spasms.

As far as the history of this plant is concerned, it interestingly enough was worshiped as a plant of mystery by the Greeks according to Reference Guide to Essential Oils. I have never heard of a plant being worshiped. Hmm.

In the Bible references, myrtle is included when they gathered tree branches and limbs for festivities. (Zechariah 1, Nehemiah 8) And when God promises to bring back trees to the barren land the myrtle is mentioned. (Isaiah 41, 55)

So, we find that once again this essential oil of today is not mentioned as part of sacrifices or anointing oils in the Bible. But, it is part of renewal. How fascinating it is that a tree associated with renewal also has a renewing type impact on some body functions.

It never ceases to amaze me that God uses what we see in the physical realm to understand what He's saying in the spiritual realm.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Bibical Oils - Fir

When we think of Firs we usually think of Christmas. The smell of a fresh evergreen tree filling the room or house soothes the senses as it ignites the mind to creating a celebration come Christmas Day. Never mind the needles left behind as it slowly dies near the end of the season. But even those give off a fragrance.

There is much to be said for the aromatic effects an essential oil can deliver. I must admit I thought it was silly to think that even smelling an essential oil could affect one's disposition or health. That is until an essential oil worked for me.

Fir is not a pretty smell. Reference Guide for Essential Oils described it as having a woody, earthly, fresh, sweet scent. I can agree with the woody and earth smell. As for the other descriptions I wonder if it is the physical tree and it's parts that are known for that. The oil itself is extracted from the bark, twigs, wood and needles. Like I said, I can agree to the woody scent.

As for the essential oil Fir there are actually specific kinds of Fir. According to Essential Oils pocket reference the essential oil today comes from Idaho and two types of trees. But, according to Reference Guide to Essential Oils there are four varieties from the USA, Canada, Balkans, and France. Overall these two books state it can be used for antitumoral, antioxidant, antifungal, cuts, depression, hemorrhoids, nervous tension, overworked muscles, pain relief, sore throats, or respiratory issues. And can be found in some combined oils and moisturizing cream and deodorants.

I would like to add that Reference Guide to Essential Oils repeated several times that this essential oil was good for colds and the flu. An important thing to know at this time of year. But heed the warning that not all forms of this are safe to be taken internally.

So how was it used in the Bible?

While sources site that it is found in the Bible, I didn't find any mention or implication of it being an essential oil. Oh, and as an aside, depending on your translation the verses may read pine, fir, myrtle or evergreen.

There is mention of fir being part of buildings, boats or musical instruments. (See 2 Samuel 6; Song of Solomon 1; Ezekiel 27; Nehemiah 8) Of all the woods used in the days of the Bible I find it interesting that it was specifically mentioned as being part of the buildings that Solomon built for the Lord. (See 1 Kings 6, 9 and 2 Chronicles 2, 3)

One unique aspect to this tree and its qualities is that it is associated with renewal. God will renew the land by bringing back firs where they once grew and where they never stood before. (Isaiah 41, 55, 60; Ezekiel 31) And, so important are they that a king of Assyria who cut down the firs was prophesied against because of it. (See 2 Kings 19; Isaiah 37)

This tree is also used to illustrate the mightiness of God in Hosea 14. And Psalm 104 continues in this comparison when it mentions the storks nesting in them. Have you ever seen a stork's nest? I have. They are huge. The nests were on the rooftops of houses because the trees nearby weren't big enough to hold them. That's how majestic these Biblical trees were. But as grandiose as they are, Zechariah 11 and Nahum 2 both mention that God is able to bring these trees down.

One last verse to reference. That is Isaiah14:8. Hello. The trees are exulting God? Do you remember Jesus saying if the people didn't shout praises that even the rocks would? (Luke 19) Can you imagine if we could hear at their frequency what we would hear? But then, that's another study.

Back to Fir. I have only covered the effects of Fir in this article, but pine and myrtle have similar benefits. I must admit that Fir has become one of my favorite oils. When I have prayed for relief from neck pain secondary to a physical ailment, the Lord replied with using Fir. Why I was amazed that it worked I have no idea...but it did. And I continue to use it when needed.

So while Fir was not specifically mentioned in the Bible as being an oil used for sacrifices or anointing, we do have it for our use in today's world. We can use it for the aromatic effects it has always been known to have, or the topical uses that have been found through the years. This is yet another way that God cares for His creation.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Biblical Oils - Hyssop

Next on our list is Hyssop.

Honestly I thought Hyssop was more a plant than an oil. I probably got this from reading Exodus 12 when the Israelites placed the blood of a lamb on the doorposts to ward off the last Egyptian plague. Or, from reading 1 Kings 4:33 where it talks about it growing out of the walls. Or, from reading John 19 when the Roman soldiers placed a sponge on a branch of hyssop to offer gall to Jesus. But when we read Psalm 51 we see that hyssop is used to purge someone of sin, so in that case it has to be an oil.

Leviticus 14 includes it with cedarwood (a post to come) as part of the cleansing of a person and of a home. But it steps up a notch in Numbers 19 when it's important enough to be included in the sin cleansing sacrifice of the red heifer for the nation of Israel.  Hebrews 9 also says it was used by Moses as part of a ceremony after reading the law for the first time to the nation of Israel.

So what do they say about it today?

It too has a long laundry list of uses, similar to Frankincense. But, several of the sites I checked had warnings for this oil -- do not use if you have epilepsy or are pregnant. Also, keep it away from children. So while this oil has much it can do, externally and internally, it definitely comes with a warning list that might rival a pharmaceutical TV ad. Remember, while it might be used for one ailment it apparently strongly affects the other systems as well.

So, what can it do?

My sources were Young Living , Organic Facts , Essential Oils pocket reference, and Reference Guide for Essential Oils. According to them it has purifying qualities that makes it good for respiratory and viral infections, respiratory congestion, circulatory issues and parasites (worms). Some medical terms for its uses are: anti-inflammatory; antioxidant; anti-rheumatic; antiseptic; antispasmodic; astringent; carminative;  cicatrisant; decongestant; diuretic; emmenagogue; mucolytic; sedative.  Which when simplified means it is good for arthritis, aids in digestion, helps fade scars, increases frequency of urination, helps regulate the menstrual cycle, and reduces risks of nervous disorders.

It isn't one of the popular oils you hear about, but it does hold its own against other essential oils. Young Living was the only one to call it a slightly sweet wood scent. I guess this is why it was included in the sacrifices mentioned in Leviticus. Over all I found this oil to be quite interesting. For a plant that could grow out of rock walls it sure held many medicinal uses in the inner workings of its oil.