Myrrh is an antiseptic often used in gargles, mouthwashes and toothpastes to treat gum diseases, gingivitis, mouth ulcers, pharyngitis, and sinusitis. It is also found in healing salves and liniments to be applied to minor skin ailments and abrasions. Myrhh works against infections in two ways. It has direct antimicrobial properties, killing microbes, and it also stimulates white blood cell production. It is therefore used in the treatment of laryngitis and other upper respiratory tract infections. Myrrh improves the circulation of the reproductive system. This results in relaxation of spasms and therefore the regulation of menstrual periods. During childbirth, it promotes effective contractions and eases pain. Myrhh also stimulates the flow of digestive juices, thus improving digestion and overall absorption. It also invigorates the stomach, and in the intestinal tract, it relieves spasms, colic, flatulence and distension. Its anti-inflammatory properties are useful for treating rheumatism, arthritis and gout.
Common Name of the Herb: Myrrh
Latin Name: Commiphora molmol
Parts Used: gum resin and essential oil
Actions: Antiseptic, antimicrobial, expectorant, antispasmodic, anti-catarrhal, vulnerary, tonic, carminative, and anti-inflammatory
Preparation and Use: myrrh resin is difficult to dissolve in water. It should be powdered well to make an infusion. Once in powder form, pour one cup of boiling water over one to two teaspoons of the powdered resin. Leave it to infuse for ten to fifteen minutes. It can also be used in capsules, tinctures, mouthwash, powder, douche, chest rub, and as an essential oil.
Cautions and Limitations of Use:
- Myrrh should be avoided during pregnancy, because it is a uterine stimulant.
- Caution for all herbs and foods: Stop using if you experience symptoms of allergy. Seek emergency medical attention if you experience symptoms of a serious allergic reaction including difficulty breathing; closing of your throat; swelling of your lips, tongue, or face; or hives. People who are allergic to other foods in the burseraceae family, such as frankincense may be allergic to myrrh.
- Consult your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking prescription medications, regarding possible interactions.
- If in doubt about the safety of any herb, consult a doctor with special knowledge and experience with herbs.
- Constituents: Volatile oil, gums and resin
- Growing the Herb: Myrrh needs ample sunlight. It propagates from seeds during spring. You can also obtain cuttings during its budding period.
- How to Gather: The semi-solid substance (resin) which is produced by the branches is harvested and then dehydrated immediately.
- Other English Common Names: Somali myrrh
- Where it Grows: The largest myrrh producing countries are Yemen, Somalia and Ethiopia. It grows in the arid regions of Arabia and East Africa.
- How to Identify: Myrrh is a shrub that can grow up to nine feet tall. It has a light gray trunk with its main branches knotted and smaller branches protruding at right angles. Its leaves are divided into two oval leaflets with one large terminal leaflet. It has yellow-red flowers that grow on stalks.