Also known as Bol, Bola, Hirabol, Merra, and Gum, Myrrh is a natural, aromatic, sap-like resin or “gum” that is derived from the small, thorny Commiphora myrrha tree, which is related to the Frankincense tree. Native to Egypt, Myrrh is commonly used in Africa and the Middle East. The name Myrrh comes from the Arabic word “murr,” which means “bitter,” as its scent is sometimes bitter. Having been a prized, invaluable trade commodity along the ancient spice routes, Myrrh was so esteemed that legends were centered around it. One such Syrian and Greek legend about how the tree received its name tells of the Syrian king Thesis’ daughter, whose name was Myrrha, being transformed by the protective gods into a Myrrh tree to escape her father’s homicidal fury. It is believed that the tree’s resin is actually Myrrha’s tears.
Historically, Myrrh’s scent symbolized suffering, and it came to be associated with somber occasions such as funerals. During these and other solemn ceremonies – especially ones with religious distinctions – Myrrh resin was traditionally burned over hot coals, and the smoke produced a sweet, warm, and woody aroma that was often considered to have an enigmatic property that was conducive for spiritual practices. For this reason, Myrrh was often used in meditation and prayer, sometimes combined with Frankincense. Myrrh has also been blended with the lighter scents of citrus essential oils for more heartening effects that are known to inspire and boost emotional perception and understanding.
For its numerous versatile uses, Myrrh has become one of the most extensively used essential oils around the world. For centuries, it has been used by many cultures in traditional medicine, religious observances, fumigation, culinary applications, funeral rites, purification rituals, and perfumery. Specifically, Myrrh and its essential oil was customarily used as part of the embalming process, as a spice to flavor food, as a fixative ingredient in the production of fragrances, as an anti-aging and skin-enhancing cosmetic product, as a remedy for hay fever, and as a disinfectant for wounds that also facilitated their healing and reduced bleeding.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, Myrrh – or Mo Yao, as it is referred to in China – the first record of Myrrh’s medicinal use in China dates back to A.D. 600 during the Tang Dynasty. It is considered to be a spicy and bitter essential oil with a temperature that is neutral as well as a particular effectiveness on the liver, spleen meridians, and heart. Myrrh is reputed to have stimulating action for blood circulation, thereby soothing pain and offering relief from the discomforts of blood stagnation, swelling, sores, carbuncles, bruises, dysmenorrhea and cramps, abdominal pain, post-partum pain and spotting, amenorrhea, arthritis, chest pain, and other circulatory problems. By facilitating the regeneration of skin, it is known to accelerate the healing of skin ulcers, sores, and lesions. Myrrh Oil is used for similar applications in Ayurveda, which attributes revitalizing and tonic properties to the resin.
In 1540, when Myrrh Essential Oil was being distilled, Conrad Gesner and Valerius Cordius classified it as vulnerary and deemed it fit for external application, establishing ways in which the resin could be used to prepare ointments. Also based on the use of Myrrh were many French remedies that were meant to soothe burns, cuts, and wounds. The remedies were also used in fumigation and, for Myrrh’s expectorant properties, they were used to address bronchitis and catarrhal discharge. In 1608, Dr. Philippe Guybert’s ‘Medecin Charitable’ established Myrrh’s ability to clean, dry, strengthen, warm, encourage the onset of menstruation, and eliminate coughs. In 1699, Nicolas Lemery’s ‘Traite des Drogues Simples’ established Myrrh’s emmenagogue property and its advantages for quickening labor and birth. In 1765, Cartheuser’s ‘Matiere Medicale’ confirmed the same while adding Myrrh’s ability to address skin disorders, suggesting that is anti-septic properties were able to strengthen the gums by eliminating harmful bacteria from rotten teeth. In the ‘Officine de Dorvault’ of 1928 – a list of drugs that were legitimately distributed over a particular course of time – Myrrh was documented as having been used by hospitals to treat bed sores.
For its anti-inflammatory and anti-septic properties, Myrrh Oil became an integral part of combat gear for Greek soldiers, who took vials of it to clean and disinfect their wounds as well as to stem the flow of blood. For its ability to elevate and enhance the experience of enlightenment, the Hebrews mixed Myrrh into their wine and drank the mixture before taking part in religious rituals. Criminals were given the same concoction to ease their mental and physical anguish before they were executed.
According to historical sources, Queen Hatshepsut wanted to earn the pleasure of the god Amon by surrounding his temple with existing Myrrh trees. To fulfill her mission, the Queen sent an expedition to a region known to grow Myrrh trees in abundance. According to legend, after a successful quest, the pleased god promised the Queen “life, stability and satisfaction forever.” The story of the voyage was later portrayed on the temple walls that enclosed her tomb, and the Egyptian people were introduced to the Myrrh tree. As the tree came to be revered, the wealthy began wearing small pouches of Myrrh pellets around their necks for its enticing perfume. Myrrh came to be used in embalming compounds, and its pellets were commonly burned to function as a flea repellant.
Myrrh Essential Oil and Resinoid remain relevant today for many of the abovementioned uses and especially for cosmetic applications, due to their cleansing, brightening, soothing, and rejuvenating properties. Additional uses for Myrrh Essential Oil and Resinoid will be highlighted throughout this article.
The main chemical constituents of Myrrh Essential Oil are: Terpenes (Cadinene, Curzerene, (1,3)-Furanoeudesma-Diene, Lindestrene, Elemene, Germacrene). The main chemical constituents of Myrrh Resinoid are: Monoterpenes and Sesquiterpenes.
Used in aromatherapy applications, Myrrh Essential Oil is known to have expectorant effects that reduce the discomforts of respiratory problems, offering relief for colds, congestion, coughs, bronchitis, and phlegm. When diffused to achieve a relaxed mood, inhaling the sedative scent of Myrrh is known to stabilize emotions, lift negative moods, promote the feeling of being grounded, and encourage the feeling of spiritual awakening. Myrrh Oil is a common ingredient in remedies for asthma, cough, colds, lung congestion, and indigestion.
Used cosmetically or topically in general, Myrrh Oil works as a powerful antioxidant that maintains skin health by facilitating the fading of unwanted blemishes. It soothes skin discomforts such as itchiness and symptoms of eczema among other skin ailments.
It also adds its naturally pleasant fragrance and moisture to cosmetics, especially for skin care. Used in hair, Myrrh Oil’s astringency strengthens the roots and thus reduces or prevents hair loss. When applied to a dry scalp and dry hair, Myrrh Oil is known to address dandruff, while its scent is known to stimulate the brain and promote alertness and energy.
Used in a massage, Myrrh Essential Oil works as an astringent that strengthens the muscles and smooths the skin while promoting relaxation. It cleanses the pores by increasing perspiration, and its anti-inflammatory properties prevent bodily toxins, such as salt, excess water, and harmful gases, from accumulating in the circulatory system. By stimulating circulation, Myrrh Oil works to supply tissues with oxygen, which regulates metabolic rate, addresses symptoms of indigestion, and boosts immunity.
Used medicinally, Myrrh Essential Oil is known to facilitate the healing of wounds by protecting them from infection and by calming tissue inflammation. Its astringent property helps prevent wounds from hemorrhaging, thus preventing excessive blood loss. With emmenagogue properties, Myrrh Oil is known to regulate menstruation and to ease its negative symptoms, such as hormonal imbalances that lead to mood swings. Myrrh Oil has powerful anti-catarrhal properties that make it beneficial for eliminating or reducing the symptoms of viral infections. It does this is by reducing mucus in the respiratory tract and relieving congestion. Myrrh Essential Oil is also known to effectively eliminate fungal infections.
As illustrated, Myrrh Essential Oil is reputed to have many therapeutic properties. The following highlights its many benefits and the kinds of activity it is believed to show:
The thorny, stunted Myrrh tree – or spiky Myrrh shrub – is also known as the Gum Tree, the Guggal Gum Tree, the Guggal Resin Tree, the Didin Tree, and the Didthin tree. Growing in the world’s desert regions, the harsh winds and weather conditions of the tree’s environment may sometimes be responsible for causing its thick, light grey trunk to grow in its distinctly twisted, knotted shape.
Native to the eastern Mediterranean, North Africa, the Middle East, and North India, it requires dry, sunny, hot climates in order to thrive and may grow to a height of approximately 12 feet. The tree produces few leaves on its jagged and angled branches. At the end of summer, it produces orange-red flowers and knots. From these knots, the tree produces a clear or pale-yellow sap – also called Myrrh Gum – that is released when the tree bark is cut or when the bushes have their shoots and stems cut. As the waxy sap “bleeds” it appears to be glossy like tears. When the drops of sap dry and coagulate on the tree trunk, they harden into walnut-size lumps and turn reddish-brown in color. Hardened sap is referred to as resin. It is hard, brittle and granular.
Once harvested, the resin granules are either clear or opaque with a yellowish tint. With age, the color of the resin darkens and white streak-like markings usually begin to develop. The resin is then harvested to produce an essential oil or a resinoid.
Myrrh Essential Oil and Myrrh Resinoid are both produced when Myrrh resin undergoes Solvent Extraction; however, sometimes they undergo Steam Distillation instead.
The resultant oil is thick and viscous in consistency, ranging in color from yellow to amber to dark brown. Its aroma is warm, dry, musty, woody, herbaceous, and smoky. Alternatively, the oil may have a strong balsamic scent that is pungent and bitter. Myrrh Oil is often used as a base note in perfumery, as it blends well with the fragrances of citrus, spicy, and floral oils.
The scent profile of this essential oil has also been described as having nuances of vanilla, mushrooms, and licorice. Myrrh Resinoid has a thicker consistency and different scent profile than the essential oil, exuding strong but warm notes reminiscent of roasted cocoa and licorice.
Myrrh can also be bought in the form of a powder and a tincture. For its anti-septic and analgesic qualities, Myrrh is a common ingredient in pharmacy products, which include: toothpastes, powders for toothaches, mouthwashes, and topical salves and liniments for bodily aches and sprains.
The uses for Myrrh Essential Oil are abundant, ranging from medicinal and odorous to cosmetic. Its many forms include oils, gels, salves, lotions, soaps, shampoos, sprays, and candles.
Used in aromatherapy applications, the scent of Myrrh Oil is reputed to reduce tension and negative moods, which in turn supports emotional and physical well-being. Adding a few drops of Myrrh Oil to an electric diffuser will support the respiratory system by soothing cough and cold symptoms. This method also supports overall immunity and digestion. Alternatively, Myrrh Oil can be diffused to elevate the spiritual ambience as well as inspiration while meditating.
Myrrh Oil is a popular choice for diffusing throughout the home to create a peaceful environment, especially during holiday seasons. For a synergistic Myrrh Oil blend, it can be combined and diffused with one or more of the following essential oils: Tea Tree, Peppermint, Mandarin, Cypress, Sandalwood, Frankincense, Juniper, Geranium, Lavender, Patchouli, Pine, Palmarosa, Rose, Rosewood, and Thyme. To diffuse a blend that reduces feelings of anxiety and enhances energy, relaxation, and well-being, mix together 12 drops of Myrrh Oil and 8 drops of Sweet Orange Essential Oil. Pour 7 drops of this blend into a diffuser and allow it to diffuse for a maximum of 30 minutes in an area with adequate ventilation. Never exceed 60 minutes of aromatherapy with Myrrh Oil.
Used in cosmetic applications or topically in general, Myrrh Essential Oil may be used directly on skin ailments including sores, acne, and skin that is chapped or generally afflicted with dryness. Simply add a few drops of the oil to a cotton bud and dab it onto enlarged pores, acne breakouts, infections, blemishes, sores, or wounds. Myrrh Oil’s astringent properties are known to strengthen the skin cells and thereby prevent or reduce bleeding.
To create a natural perfume with the royal, exotic scent of Myrrh Oil, combine the following essential oils in a 240 ml (8-oz.) glass bottle: 9 drops Myrrh Essential Oil, 9 drops Rose Absolute, 7 drops Patchouli Essential Oil, 7 drops Cedarwood Essential Oil, 7 drops Frankincense Essential Oil, and 5 drops Vanilla Oleoresin (10 Fold). Top the bottle with approximately 1 cup (240 ml/8 oz.) Almond Carrier Oil, then place the bottle in a dark place for 3-4 weeks in order to allow its aroma to intensify. When ready, this alluring scent can be applied to the pulse points.
To soothe the skin after shaving or to condition facial hair, a Myrrh serum can be made by mixing 5 drops Myrrh Essential Oil, 5 drops Frankincense Essential Oil, 5 drops Helichrysum Essential Oil, 5 drops Neroli Essential Oil, 5 drops Sandalwood Essential Oil, 5 drops Carrot Seed Essential Oil, 2 ml (0.06 oz.) Vitamin E Liquid, 5 ml (0.16 oz.) Sea Buckthorn Carrier Oil, 15 ml (0.50 oz.) Hazelnut Carrier Oil, 20 ml (0.70 oz.) Argan Carrier Oil, and 20 ml (0.70 oz.) Jojoba Carrier Oil in a glass bottle that has a dropper. After shaving, massage a small amount of this blend into the shaved area of skin to soften and soothe the skin.
Myrrh Oil’s anti-oxidant properties make it a rejuvenating and soothing moisturizer when applied to the skin after dilution with a carrier oil. Suggested carrier oils include Almond, Grapeseed, and Jojoba. Alternatively, 1-2 drops of Myrrh Essential Oil may be blended into a regular unscented lotion or face cream before application. Used daily, this blend is known to reduce the signs of aging skin, such as wrinkles and fine lines. For a Myrrh blend that is known to exhibit anti-aging effects, mix together 12 drops of Myrrh Oil and 1 oz. (30 ml) Black Cumin Seed Carrier Oil. Pour a moderate amount of this mixture onto the palms and apply it nightly to a clean face and neck, avoiding the eyes. It is recommended that this serum not be applied past 3 weeks, in order to prevent the skin from getting accustomed to the ingredients’ effects. This serum is beneficial for facilitating cellular regeneration and for calming skin afflicted with acne, fungal infections, allergic reactions, inflammation, scars, and wrinkles.
For a toning body lotion that may also facilitate the healing of wounds, combine 1/4 cup Olive Carrier Oil, 1/4 cup Coconut Carrier Oil, 1/4 cup Beeswax, and 1/4 cup Shea Butter in a glass bowl. Place the bowl in a sauce pan filled with water and place the sauce pan on the stove over medium heat. Thoroughly mix the ingredients, then refrigerate the blend for 1 hour until it solidifies. Next, whip the mixture with a beater until it becomes fluffy in consistency. To this, add 2 Tbsp. Vitamin E Liquid, 20 drops Myrrh Essential Oil, and 20 drops Frankincense Essential Oil, and mix well. Transfer this Myrrh and Frankincense lotion to a BPA-free plastic lotion dispenser bottle and store it in a cool place. The combination of Myrrh and Frankincense is known to boost circulation, reduce symptoms of inflammation and irritation, prevent or reduce infection, strengthen and regenerate the skin’s protective barrier, ease pain, boost collagen and elastin production, tone the skin, and facilitate the healing of wounds.
For a natural foot lotion that uses Myrrh to soothe and smooth dry, callused feet, blend 10 drops each of Myrrh, Frankincense, and Lemon essential oils with Fractionated Coconut Carrier Oil. This may also be massaged into dry cuticles. This blend may accelerate relief from Athlete’s Foot, eczema, wounds, and ulcers. For additional relief from fungal infections on the foot, especially Athlete’s Foot, 3-4 drops of Myrrh Oil can be added to a pedicure bowl of hot water to create a simple but effective foot bath.
Used in medicinal applications, Myrrh Oil’s anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties make it ideal for use in a cold compress. Simply add a few drops to the cold compress and apply it directly to any area of skin that is swollen, sore, tender, or infected. This is known to be beneficial for preventing infection in irritations such as acne, small cuts, scrapes, and ring worm. Alternatively, 2-4 drops of Myrrh can be added to 10 ml (2 tsp.) Soya Carrier Oil and applied it to the skin to soothe flaking skin and reduce the appearance of scars.
For a Myrrh Oil balm that soothes allergic reactions, such as a reaction to Poison Ivy, combine 12 drops Myrrh Essential Oil and 12 drops Lavender Essential Oil in a glass bottle. To this mixture, add 30 ml (1 oz.) of a preferred carrier oil, such as Jojoba, Coconut, Olive, or Almond. This blend can be applied to areas affected with rash or other types of irritation.
Used in a massage, Myrrh Essential Oil can promote the relief of bronchitis, colds, coughs, catarrh, and female health problems. For an immune-enhancing massage oil, blend together 10 drops Myrrh Essential Oil, 10 drops Tea Tree Essential Oil, 8 drops Lemon Essential Oil, 8 drops Thyme Essential Oil, 6 drops Geranium Essential Oil, 5 drops Elemi Essential Oil, and 120 ml (4 oz.) of a carrier oil of personal preference in a bottle. Massage this blend into the body once or twice daily. For a more sensual massage blend that enhances libido, mix together 8 drops Myrrh Essential Oil, 5 drops Ginger Essential Oil, 2 drops Jasmine Absolute, 1 drop Cardamom Essential Oil, and 60 ml (2 oz.) Coconut Fractionated Carrier Oil MCT. This blend can be applied sensually in a long, slow massage, avoiding any sensitive areas of the body.
For a massage blend that reduces the appearance of scars and stretch marks, first add 30 ml (1 oz.) of a preferred carrier oil to a small dropper bottle. Next, add the following essential oils one at a time, rolling the bottle between the palms to blend each one thoroughly into the carrier oil before adding the next one: 10 drops Myrrh Essential Oil, 8 drops Lemongrass Essential Oil, 6 drops Lavender Essential Oil, 5 drops Helichrysum Essential Oil, 4 drops Patchouli Essential Oil. Massage this blend over the entire body, giving extra attention to areas of skin afflicted with scars, stretch marks, and other unwanted marks.
MYRRH ESSENTIAL OIL (EGYPT)
Botanical Name:Commiphora myrrha
Country of Origin: Egypt
Extraction Method: Solvent Extraction
MYRRH INDIAN RESINOID
Botanical Name: Commiphora myrrha
Country of Origin: India
Extraction Method: Solvent Extraction using Benzyl Benzoate
As per NAHA guidelines, New Directions Aromatics (NDA) does not recommend the ingestion of essential oils or resinoids. It is imperative to consult a medical practitioner before using Myrrh Oil and Myrrh Resinoid for therapeutic purposes. Pregnant and nursing women are especially advised not to use Myrrh Oil or Resinoid without the medical advice of a physician, as they may increase uterine contractions. The Oil/Resinoid should always be stored in an area that is inaccessible to children, especially those under the age of 7.
Prior to using Myrrh Oil/Resinoid, a skin test is recommended. This can be done by diluting the essential Oil/Resinoid in a Carrier Oil and applying a small amount to a small area of skin that is not sensitive. Myrrh Oil/Resinoid must never be used near the eyes, inner nose and ears, or on any other particularly sensitive areas of skin.
Potential side effects of Myrrh Essential Oil and Myrrh Resinoid include skin inflammation, dermatitis, lowered blood pressure, and heart irregularities. In the event of an allergic reaction, discontinue use of the products and see a doctor, pharmacist, or allergist immediately for a health assessment and appropriate remedial action. To prevent side effects, consult with a medical professional prior to use. Those with sensitive skin, those taking prescription drugs (especially anti-coagulants and diabetes medication), heart patients, and those with health conditions such as cancer, liver damage, skin disorders, or conditions related to blood sugar levels are especially recommended to be advised before using either of these products. The use of Myrrh Oil/Resinoid should be stopped a minimum of two weeks prior to any surgery. Its use is not recommended for those undergoing surgery.
Those seeking medical care to manage moods, behaviors, or disorders should treat this essential oil and resinoid as a complementary remedy rather than a replacement for any medicinal treatments or prescriptions.