Three wise men indeed. Did you know that the three Magi who visited the virgin Mary and her new baby were practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine? At the time it would have just been called "medicine," but they were most definitely bring medicinals for Mary and not gifts for Jesus.
Gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The gifts of the Magi, aka jin (金), ru xiang (乳香), and mo yao (没药) are all essential for tending to a woman who has just given birth. Especially if it was a difficult labor.
When choosing the material for needle production there are several factors to consider. We often will refer to 'tonifying' or 'sedating' an acupuncture point with the needle manipulation, but in truth the properties of the metal are just as important. The vast majority of acupuncture needles are made of surgical grade stainless steel, but periodically you may encounter a practitioner who uses either gold or silver needles. When the qi of the body is exhausted, as would be the case after giving birth, using gold needles would dramatically increase the tonifying abilities of an acupuncture treatment. I suspect that the translation from Matthew's Aramaic to Greek changed 'gold needle' to just 'gold.' What use would Jesus have had for an ostentatious gift like a lump of gold?
Within the world of herbal medicine, regardless of the region of origin, there are couplets of herbs that work synergistically. Frankincense and myrrh are such a couplet. They are known not only in China where their first reference is in 500 bce, but also in the Arabian peninsula and over much of the Indian subcontinent. This couplet is used extensively to heal injuries, treat traumatic pain, reduce swelling, and to generate flesh. It is found in such formulas as Die Dan Wan (trauma pill), Huo Luo Xiao Ling Dan (fantastically effective pill to invigorate the collaterals), and Yan Hu Suo Tang (corydalis decoction). In fact, this combo is known specifically for postpartum abdominal pain due to blood stasis and is one of if not the most potent combos in Chinese herbalism for increasing the speed of healing from a traumatic injury. While the baby Jesus may have appreciated the calming smells of frankincense and myrrh, his postpartum mother, who had just given birth in a stable ostensibly without much in the way of medical care, would have greatly benefited from their healing properties.
So where exactly did the Magi come from? The Christian tradition states the Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar came from Persia, India, and Babylon respectively. But did you know that in the gospel of Matthew, from which we draw all and the only information about the birth of Jesus, no names or regions of origin are given? Did you also know that, in fact, the number of Magi was not specified, only the three gifts. Traditionally we have inferred that there must have been three wise men, each bearing a single gift.
The final piece of information that proves the where these wise men learned of the healing properties of gold, frankincense, and myrrh is that the ancient Chinese symbol for wu (巫 in simplified character), or shaman, is the same symbol as the ancient Arabic symbol for magusya - ☩, what is known as a cross potent or a crutch cross.
"The recent discovery at an early Chou site of two figurines with unmistakably Caucasoid or Europoid feature is startling prima facie evidence of East-West interaction during the first half of the first millennium Before the Current Era. It is especially interesting that one of the figurines bears on the top of his head the clearly incised graph ☩ which identifies him as a wu (< *myag)." ~ Mair, Victor H. (1990)
So there you have it. Three (medicinal) gifts for a new mother (in pain), brought by three (maybe?) Magi (☩) from the East (likely China in knowledge) where the medical system was fully functional around 2500 bce. Impress your family and friends over Christmas dinner this year! And remember, WWJD? Clearly he started out his life using Chinese Medicine, so you probably should too!
Would you like to find out more about the flow of medical information between the East and West? How about the amazing impact acupuncture and herbs can have in your life. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as they say, and it is no different with your health. Let's talk www.AndrewBall-LAc.com