Decoding Anointing Oil: A Buying Guide
In our blog about Anointing Oil, we unraveled the incredible history and controversial nature of Anointing Oils in Judaism, from the making of the Shemen HaMishchah, the original Anointing Oil from the Torah, to exploring the potential uses of its modern-day counterparts, but now that we’ve covered the basics, it’s time to dive a little deeper. Specifically, we want to take a closer look at the Anointing Oils available on the market today and learn about their compositions and benefits.
Today’s Anointing Oils are made quite similarly to how they were made in biblical times, using natural ingredients and traditional methods, although thankfully the machinery and materials used today to comply with commercial health and safety standards. As with ancient Anointing Oil, olive oil is used as a base, and different components are blended into it in varying quantities until the scent of spices has become fully incorporated. The final fragrance depends on which biblical spice or spices were used and most modern Anointing Oils keep it simple with only one or two spices, however, there are Anointing Oils made with a larger number of spices. These Anointing Oils usually have poetic names derived from Scripture verses such as Lion of Judah, Queen Esther, or Rose of Sharon describing their complex blends.
Some of the most common ingredients found in these blends include:
The main ingredient of Shemen HaMishchah and all modern Anointing Oils, olive oil has many valuable properties. Pressed from the fruit of olive trees, olive oil has been shown to be extremely beneficial when applied topically. With its high vitamin content, antioxidants, and hydrating effect on the skin, hair, and nails, olive oil is one of the best natural moisturizers you can find.
Best-known for its role in ancient perfumes and spiritual ointments, this fragrant biblical substance is a natural resin extracted from small, thorny trees belonging to the genus Commiphora Myrrha. The yellowish resin has a gummy, waxy texture that quickly hardens and darkens into a rich amber-brown color and its scent is often described as being sharp, pleasing, and slightly bitter. Besides being a famous component in ancient Anointing Oil, myrrh was also notably used on Queen Esther, who spent months bathing in oil of myrrh and other fragrant lotions prior to being presented to King Ahasuerus as a prospective bride.
A natural astringent with anti-inflammatory properties, Myrrh can be applied topically to the skin and hair to soothe skin irritations and reduce hair loss. It can also be helpful in relieving coughs, colds, and congestion when used for aromatherapy along with promoting alertness and brain stimulation.
While not one of the ingredients of Shemen HaMishchah, frankincense was used in the making of Ketoret, the sacred incense burned in the Holy Temple and it has been highly prized since antiquity with many considering it to be a “pure incense.” Another natural resin, the scent of frankincense is characterized by its earthy, woody, and slightly spicy fragrance, which many describe as sweet and comforting.
Possessing aromatherapeutic properties, Frankincense is thought to be helpful in relieving feelings of anxiety, reducing congestion, and strengthening the respiratory system, as well as stimulating the immune system.
Like frankincense, spikenard was an ingredient used in the Ketoret. It is an essential oil derived from Nardostachys Jatamansi, a flowering plant in the honeysuckle family. It has a sweet and earthy scent, which research shows may help relieve anxiety, depression, insomnia, and stress. Spikenard also thought to have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial qualities that can help with fungal infections and dandruff, among other things.
Recognized as one of the five ingredients in ancient Anointing Oil, cinnamon has been used diversely throughout history for culinary purposes, medicine, cosmetic use, and more. It is one of the oldest known spices and was once worth its weight in gold. With its sweet and spicy scent, it’s easy to see how this familiar spice could be so valuable, as it possesses many anti-inflammatory and aromatherapeutic properties that can relieve a variety of physical and emotional ailments. From alleviating feelings of depression and exhaustion to improving skin complaints and muscle pains, cinnamon proves time after time that it is good for more than just spicing up your favorite dish!
A close cousin of cinnamon, cassia is another spice that was used in the making of Shemen HaMishchah. Similar in appearance and sharing many of the same qualities as cinnamon, cassia is valued medicinally for its antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties, as well as for its aromatherapeutic virtues. Like cinnamon, it also has a sweet and spicy scent.
While the Torah mentions many additional fragrant substances that have found their way into one aromatic blend or another, these herbs and spices are by far the most popularly used to make Anointing Oil today. To discover more fantastic biblical scents and blends, check out out our amazing selection of products, where we carry a full range of the finest Israeli-made Anointing Oils you can buy!