It is a common knowledge that for many centuries, perfumes and fragrances have been used to communicate with the Gods, to attract someone, to display someone’s wealth and political status, and to satisfy one’s pleasure.
Perfumes originated in Ancient Egypt, and has been a part of the Early Egyptians religious rituals such as cleansing ceremonies. Have you heard of their Sun God named “Ra” (sometimes called Re)? Early Egyptians in the 25th and 24th centuries (BC) believed that perfumes are sweat from their Sun God. According to ancient Egyptian stories, when the Sun God “Ra” was suffering because of old age, the God of perfume which was also called the God of healing, Nefertum, offered help by healing the Sun God by using some sacred lotus. Some considered Nefertum as the world’s very first aromatherapist.
Ancient Egyptians used opopanax (also known as opobalsam), frankincense (sometimes referred to as olibanum), and myrhh (from the genus Commiphora) in creating perfumes. Below are some quick facts about the three:
Resembling the looks of a parsnip, Opopanax has a warm and spicy aroma. Just like myrhh, it is also from Commiphora genus but unlike myrhh, Opopanax scent is sweeter, softer, its aroma lasts longer. Others call Opopanax as the Sweet Myrrh. Aside from Ancient Egypt, Ancient Chinese also used Opopanax in medicines.
Today, most of the frankincense available in the market are from Oman. Aside from perfume-making, Frankincense is now used in many other products including toothpaste, deodorant, and food/drink flavoring. In the field of medicine, Frankincense is used as an antiseptic, astringent, sedative, expectorant, and more. If you have a clogged nose, just put a small amount of Frankincense in your handkerchief. Smell it and it will bring relief to your blocked nasal passages. Its fragrance is balsamic and subtly lemony.
Many of us did not know that Myrhh is botanically related to frankincense; both of them are resins. Resins are sticky, flammable substances exuded by some trees and plants. Resins are brownish (sometimes yellowish) in color. Aside from being the main substance of Ancient Egyptian perfumes, Myrhh is also used as an incense and medicine (as an antiseptic to clean and heal open wounds, or as a paste to stop wounds from bleeding). Others say that when you mixed myrhh with some kinds of wine, it can be ingested.
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