Since we talked about Frankincense last week, I thought it only appropriate that we talk about Myrrh this week. Especially since historically and Biblically they are always mentioned together. Once upon a time myrrh was almost as valuable as gold, but now it is significantly less expensive, and practically anyone can go down to their local Kuwaiti herb seller and pick up some myrrh. The name of this herb/oil/resin always sounds so mysterious, and the actual substance is quite interesting as well. It has a decidedly amber-like quality to it, color and shape-wise.
The scientific names for myrrh are “Commiphora myrrha” , (and “Botswellia carteri”) (and there are other species as well) and it is found growing naturally in the Middle East, Indian, and North Africa, particularly Ethiopia and Somalia. The essential oil, which is extremely thick and resinous, is derived from steam distillation and is an amber color. One of the reasons that myrrh tends to be expensive, is because once the twisted, bonsai-like tree is tapped for the resin, it takes a minimum of six months, and up to two years for the tree to recover, and during that time the tree cannot be tapped at all! Myrrh essential oil has a very strong, and fairly earthy, woody odor, although when the plant resin is burned its aroma is fine.
Myrrh has been literally used for centuries, practically since the dawn of time, and it still carries a very mysterious quality, even among the Arabs. In fact, the earliest recorded use of myrrh has been found in an Egyptian Pharaoh Queen’s tomb dating around 1500 years BC! The ancient Egyptians used the myrrh resin as incense, for embalming and particularly, in a burned state for the distinctive kohl eyeliner that they are so famous for! The first medicinal use was mentioned over 3700 years ago!
Myrrh oil is great for all kinds of ailments, and is a well-known antiseptic, antibiotic, and anti-inflammatory, which is why it is great for infections. It is potent against all kinds of hormonal disorders in women, and is a great balancer. In fact, for those women who suffer from a lack of menstruation, myrrh is just what the doctor ordered. But its use is not recommended during pregnancy.
For respiratory complaints myrrh oil is particularly good, and it takes care of bronchitis better than most conventional medications could ever do. It can also be used with colds and coughs.
When it is used in a cream, it helps skin complaints, such as dry, chapped skin, itchiness, etc. In this capacity, it can be used for those who want to either prevent or lessen wrinkles, as it acts in a similar manner to Frankincense in that respect. It also helps with fungal infections such as ringworm and athlete’s foot, which are normally fairly annoying and persistent. It is also good for thrush, of both types, (oral and otherwise). It is so strong and effective against viruses that it can be applied directly to herpes blisters. Along the same lines, myrrh essential oil is great for healing wounds as well. In some parts of the world, it is even used to treat leprosy!
People who suffer from hemorrhoids will get a great deal of relief from myrrh essential oil. Blended in a base oil a few drops of myrrh oil will work wonders.
Myrrh essential oil is also great for mouth problems, such as gum disease, which so many people suffer from nowadays, and also bad breath is solved with a little myrrh oil. If you have a toothache, you can try using a little myrrh oil to make things feel better. It is particularly good for people who suffer from ulcers of the mouth.
It is used for digestive upsets in this part of the world, and according to many an old Bedouin woman, myrrh is the best treatment for stomachache and a wide variety of internal complaints of the digestive system. All you have to do, according to them, is to dissolve some myrrh resin (when dried it looks like irregular chunks of amber) in a glass of water overnight, and drink a little in the morning, they swear by it, and so have people for centuries, so there must be something to it!
Myrrh is well known for its effects against stress and other nervous disorders. It is very relaxing and has been used for centuries in this capacity. It is said to lift one’s spirits and soothe the emotions. It has been used for centuries for emotional disorders and to life the spirits.
Clearly myrrh is as valuable today as it has always been, and, considering how useful it is, will certainly continue to be so. We can only hope that irresponsible harvesting will not cause the trees to die out. It is not as costly as it used to be, but still is one of the more expensive essential oils, and worth every penny!