Also, Known As:
- Gum Myrrh Tree
Myrrh is indigenous to Ethiopia and Somalia in Africa as well as the Arabian Peninsula and belongs to the small trees of the family Burseraceae. Basically, myrrh is said to be an oleo-gum-resin or a combination of capricious oil, gum and resin (a semi-solid substance contained in the sap secreted by plants) and acquired from the Commiphora myrrha, Commiphora molmol (popularly known as the Somali myrrh), Commiphora mada, gascariensis (also known as the Abyssian myrrh or syn. C. abyssinica, and other different species of Commiphora. Myrrh comprises asymmetrical masses or tear-fashioned portions that are either reddish brown or dark yellow in color. These substances either radiate involuntarily or from the openings in the bark of the plants. The different varieties of the herb, like the Somali and Arabian myrrh, are termed according to their respective sources of origin.
Most present day herbal medicine practitioners recommend the use of myrrh as an antiseptic. Myrrh forms an important ingredient of an ointment that is applied externally to cure hemorrhoids or swollen anus veins, bed sores as well as wounds. The tincture prepared by steeping myrrh in alcohol is said to be an effectual oral astringent (a substance that tightens affected tissues) and is generally used as a mouthwash or for curing painful throat and other similar problems. Although the internal use of myrrh is seldom recommended as the herb cannot be easily absorbed by the intestines, it is sometimes consumed to treat indigestion, ulcers and also alleviate bronchial congestions. At times, myrrh is also used by physicians as an emmenagogue to invigorate menstrual flow in cases of delayed menstrual cycles or insufficient menstruation. There are many people who advocate the use of myrrh for therapeutic use in problems such as cancer, leprosyand syphilis (a sexually transmitted disease), but there is no scientific or whatsoever evidence in this regard.
As mentioned earlier, that myrrh is said to be an oleo-gum-resin or a combination of capricious oil, gum and resin. And hence chemical analysis of myrrh has displayed that the herb encloses approximately eight percent of a volatile oil, 25 to 40 percent of resin and around 60 percent of gum. It has been found that a variety of aldehydes (organic compounds) and phenolic ingredients (poisonous caustic compounds) present in the volatile oil enclosed in myrrh blend with the acidic elements in the resin to turn out a number of astringent and antiseptic effects in the oleo-gum-resin. The material properties of the gum and the resin are also found to bestow a defensive action on the blend. It may be noted here that though myrrh is present as an important constituent in numerous marketable mouthwashes, the herb is more extensively used as a fragrance in the manufacture of soaps, cosmetics and colognes. In addition, myrrh is also used as an ingredient to flavor food products like candy, baked goods and other such items. Significantly, in Germany, the authorities have permitted the use of myrrh powder and tincture for relevant treatment of minor oral inflammations and pharyngeal mucosa.
Since time immemorial, people have held myrrh in high esteem for its antiseptic as well as detoxifying properties. Myrrh is sour, spicy and astringent and the primary properties include warming and stimulating the body. For people who experience exhaustion and tiredness, myrrh may be used as a tonic to revitalize their system. In addition, myrrh is also known to enhance the blood circulation, drive out cold and any feebleness arising out of it. The herb is also effectual in pushing out eruptions as it draws the blood near the skin surface enabling to treat rashes as well as eruptive infections. Moreover, myrrh is helpful in lowering the body temperature during fevers. There are numerous other aspects of the herb that include enhancing the blood circulation to the reproductive system, alleviating spasm or muscle contractions and also controlling the menstrual cycle. Many physicians use myrrh during childbirth as the herb effectively encourages uterus contraction and also alleviates pain.
On the other hand, myrrh is an effective medication to cure coughs and also removes the congestion or jamming of the respiratory system. The herb is particularly beneficial for treating bronchitis, asthma, cold and catarrh or running nose. The antiseptic property of myrrh is an added bonus as this acts actively against all viral and bacterial infections, combat all other diseases as well as invigorates the body’s immune (resistance) system. The astringent property of the herb aids in apprehending releases or discharges from the body, phlegm and persistent running nose.
The warming property of the herb in the digestive system invigorates the desire for food, enhances the flow of digestive juices, perks up digestion and at the same time, improves absorption. The herb has a unique quality to calm down as well as stimulate the stomach, relieve colic or stomach pain and spasm, wind and indigestion. In addition, the herb also relieves fatigue or exhaustion owing to poor digestion. The herb’s action to augment digestion also helps in cleansing the digestive tract of all noxious substances as well as function as a remedy for common detoxification and anti-inflammation. This quality of myrrh is especially useful in treating arthritis, rheumatism (stiffness in joints and muscles) as well as gout (a disease that causes swollen joints). The herb’s action against bacteria and fungi aids in containing infection and candidiasis (yeast infection) in the digestive system and also gets the intestines rid of all parasites.
Plant Parts Used:
Gum resin, essential oil.
Medical Actions Of Myrrh:
Although scientists, as well as physicians, have established the astringent, antiseptic as well as the anti-microbial properties of myrrh, research into the medical actions of the herb so far cannot be said have been adequate. Since myrrh is not soluble in water, the herb cannot be used to prepare an infusion. Hence, it is usually consumed as a powder or tincture. Another important thing to remember is that myrrh also cannot be easily soaked in by the intestines and hence it is generally used externally like gargles to treat sore and inflamed throats.
Myrrh holds a place of importance in Ayurveda medicine too. Ayurveda medicine practitioners recommend myrrh as a tonic and also as an aphrodisiac (a substance that stimulates sexual urge). In addition, they use the myrrh to purify the blood from toxic substances. It may be noted here that myrrh is also reputed to possess properties that enhance mental power. In India as well as in the Middle East, the herb is also used to treat problems of the mouth, gum, throat and the digestive system. Myrrh is also beneficial for curing irregular and excruciating menstruation.
Herbal medicine practitioners worldwide have now accepted that myrrh is one of the most effectual medicines in the world to cure aching throats, canker sores and gingivitis (infections in the gum around the tooth). The tincture prepared with myrrh may be diluted with water to be used as a gargle to aid in combating infections and inflammations as well as make tighter the exaggerated tissues. When applied externally, myrrh’s astringent (a substance that pulls tissues closer) and antiseptic properties help in treating acne and boils. It is also beneficial for treating inflammatory skin problems. In Germany, physicians use myrrh to treat pressure sores caused due to prosthetic or artificial limbs owing to the herb’s dehydrating and mild painkilling properties.
OTHER MEDICAL USES
- Strep throat
- Tooth decay
The myrrh has its origin in the northeastern parts of Africa, particularly Somalia. However, over the years, myrrh is presently found in other countries like India, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Iran and even Thailand. Myrrh grows naturally in dense undergrowth’s or thickets and thrives well where the drainage of the soil sound and prefers ample sunlight. Normally, myrrh propagates from the plant’s seeds during spring. However, it also grows from the plant’s cuttings at the fag end of the budding period. The semi-solid substance secreted by the cut branches of myrrh is collected and dehydrated for use.
Components of Myrrh:
Myrrh contains volatile oil, resin, gums.
Myrrh Extracts and Tinture:
Myrrh as well its extracts can be taken in tincture form. Even capsules containing myrrh extracts are available in the drugstores now. Normally, the tincture prepared with myrrh is taken in quantities of one to two ml thrice daily. The tincture may also be applied externally to alleviate painful canker sores as well as to treat athlete’s foot. It is not possible to prepare tea with myrrh owing to its sticky characteristic. Herbal practitioners also recommend usage of capsules containing one gram of myrrh resin three times daily.
Possible Side Effects:
Myrrh is said to be a safe medication and so far there have been no complaints regarding adverse effects following the use of the herb.
Myrrh is basically a useful herb and has various applications. The herb can be used as a tincture, capsules, gargle or mouthwash, douche, powder, essential oils as well as a chest rub.
- TINCTURE: The tincture prepared with myrrh is used to treat infections, fevers, head colds as well glandular fever. This tincture is an excellent remedy for all problems of the respiratory tract. The tincture may be blended with an other cough and cold remedies to treat the ailments. Normally, herbalists recommend consumption of up to five ml of the tincture in dosages of one or two ml daily. However, it must be diluted well by adding water before consumption.
CAPSULES: Compared to the tincture, capsules prepared with myrrh extracts are a more pleasant substitute. It is advisable to take one capsule of 200 mg each five times daily to treat the disorders cured by the herb’s tincture.
GARGLE/MOUTHWASH: Dilute the myrrh tincture by adding one to two ml of it to a half cup of water and use this as a gargle or mouthwash to treat painful throats or mouth ulcers.
DOUCHE: Douche prepared by diluting the myrrh tincture may be used for the effectual treatment of thrush.
POWDER: In China, herbal practitioners use powdered myrrh as an analgesic to alleviate pain without losing consciousness. Usually, three to nine grams of myrrh powder is blended with another herb called safflower for effectual treatment of pains in the abdomen that are related to clotting of blood like in the instance of menstrual pains.
- Essential oil:
- OIL: Take 10 drops of oil extracted from myrrh and dilute it with 25 ml of water. Shake the mixture well and then apply externally on injuries and persistent sores or boils. Lotions prepared from the oil may also be used to stop hemorrhoids. In all such conditions, the myrrh oil acts as an effective remedy.
CHEST RUB: To treat respiratory tract ailments such as bronchitis and colds associated with phlegm (thick mucus secreted by the respiratory passage walls), use one ml of oil extracted from the myrrh herb and mix it with 15 ml of either almond or sunflower oil to rub on the chest.