BENEFITS & USES
Myrrh is most commonly known as one of the gifts (along with gold and frankincense) the three Wise Men brought to Jesus in the New Testament. It was actually mentioned in the bible 152 times! Myrrh was important in biblical times as it was used as a spice, a natural remedy, or to purify the dead.
Myrrh oil is still commonly used today as a remedy for a variety of ailments. Researchers have become interested in myrrh due to its potent antioxidant activity and potential as a cancer treatment. It has also been shown to be effective in fighting certain types of parasitic infections.
WHAT IS MYRRH?
Myrrh is a resin, or sap-like substance, that comes from a tree called Commiphora myrrha, common in Africa or the Middle East. Myrrh is botanically related to Frankincense, and is one of the most widely used essential oils in the world.
The myrrh tree is distinctive due to its white flowers and knotted trunk. At times, the tree
has very few leaves due to the dry desert conditions where it grows. It can sometimes take on an odd and twisted shape due to the harsh weather and wind.
In order to harvest myrrh the tree trunks must be cut into to release the resin. The resin is allowed to dry and begins to look like tears all along the tree trunk. The resin is then collected and the essential oil is made from the sap via steam distillation.
Myrrh oil has a smoky, sweet or sometimes bitter smell. The word myrrh comes from the Arabic word “murr” meaning bitter. The oil is a yellowish, orange color with a viscous consistency. It is commonly used as a base for perfume and other fragrances.
Two primary active compounds are found in myrrh, called terpenoids and sesquiterpenes, both of which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Sesquiterpenes specifically also have an effect on our emotional center in the hypothalamus, helping us remain calm and balanced. Both of these compounds are under investigation for their anticancer, antibacterial benefits as well as other potential therapeutic uses.
MYRRH OIL BENEFITS
Myrrh oil has many potential benefits, although further research is needed to determine exact mechanisms of how it works and dosages for therapeutic benefits. Here are some of the main benefits of myrrh oil use:
A 2010 study in the journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology found that myrrh could protect against liver damage due to its high antioxidant capacity. Although this particular study was conducted with rabbits, there is some potential for uses in humans also.
Myrrh can help maintain healthy skin. It can help soothe chapped or cracked skin. It is commonly added to skin care products to help with moisturizing and also for fragrance. Ancient Egyptians used it to prevent aging and maintain healthy skin.
Myrrh has also been found to have anti-cancer benefits. A 2011 found that myrrh was able to reduce the proliferation or replication of human cancer cells. Researchers found that myrrh inhibited growth in eight different types of cancer cells, specifically gynecological cancers. Although further research is needed to determine exactly how to use myrrh for cancer treatment, this initial research is promising.
Anti-Bacterial and Anti-Fungal Benefits
Historically, myrrh was used to treat wounds and prevent infections. It can still be used in this manner on minor skin irritations such as athlete’s foot, ring worm, and acne. Apply a few drops to a clean towel first before applying it directly to the skin.
A medication has been developed using myrrh as a treatment for fascioliasis infection, a parasite that has been infecting humans worldwide. This parasite is generally transmitted by ingesting aquatic algae and other plants. A medication made with myrrh was able to decrease symptoms of the infection, as well as a drop in parasite egg count found in the feces.
Myrrh is commonly used in aromatherapy for massages. It can also be added to a warm bath or applied directly to the skin.
MYRRH OIL USES
Essential oil therapy has been used for thousands of years and is the practice of using oils for their health benefits. Each essential oil has its own unique benefit and can be incorporated as an alternative treatment to a variety of ailments.
You can purchase an essential oil distiller to use throughout the house when you are trying to achieve a certain mood. Or add a few drops to hot water and inhale the steam. Myrrh oil can also be inhaled when you are sick to help improve the symptoms of bronchitis, colds, or coughs.
It is best to mix myrrh with carrier oils such as jojoba, almond, or grape seed oil before applying it to the skin. It can also be mixed with an unscented lotion and used directly on the skin. Due to its antioxidant properties, it is great for antiaging, skin rejuvenation, or healing of wounds.