Commiphora myrrha

Myrrh is a reddish-brown resinous substance collected from the dried up sap of the trunk of trees belonging to the Burseraceae family. This sap is distilled to obtain myrrh essential oil. While the trees and shrubs belonging to the genus Commiphora are native to India, eastern Africa and Arabia, myrrh essential oil has been traditionally used by the ancient Egyptians to refresh facial masks as well as for embalming. While myrrh is mentioned in primeval history (around 1700 B.C.), its English name has been derived from the Greek myth of Myrrha. It is mentioned in history in the incidence when Joseph was sold by his brothers to an Ishmaelite caravan, the camels of which were transporting gum, balm as well as myrrh to Egypt. Myrrh essential oil has numerous therapeutic properties. It is known to be hormonal oil and acts as an aphrodisiac.

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The essential oil is obtained from the resinous myrrh or crude myrrh through a process known as steam distillation. As aforementioned, the resin is exuded by small, spiny shrubs or trees having knotted branched and belonging to the family of Burseraceae. It may be noted that even frankincense (botanical name Boswellia carteri) also belongs to this family of plants and, therefore, the essential oils obtained from both these species have analogous medicinal attributes. Myrrh and frankincense essential oils are two important agents that are widely used in aromatherapy.

The resinous balm exuded by the trunk of myrrh shrubs or trees are usually found in the fissures in the tree that become entrenched as reddish-brown lumps. If myths are to be believed, in ancient times, goats normally rubbed against the myrrh shrubs or trees and the shepherds taking care of these animals collected the resin that had stuck to the goats' hair. However, presently the resin is collected manually by making incisions in the myrrh trees or by commercially growing the trees.

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Myrrh essential oil is basically warm balsamic oil obtained by steam distilling the resinous balm exuded by the trunk of the myrrh shrubs or trees. For several centuries, this essential oil has been used for preserving mummies, religious purposes, and fumigations and also as a basic ingredient for preparing perfumes and herbal medications that facilitated the blood circulation. Myrrh essential oil is deeply based on the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and has been traditionally used to heal wounds, alleviate throbbing muscles as well as treat a number of conditions.

Chemical analysis of myrrh essential oil has revealed that it encloses several phyto-constituents, such as alpha pinene, cadenine, cuminaldehyde, cresol, eugenol, heerabolene, limonene and a number of others. Myrrh essential oil possesses numerous therapeutic properties and is used to treat a number of conditions. Myrrh essential oil is astringent, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-fungal, expectorant, and carminative (a medication that helps to expel gas formed in the stomach and intestines), sedative, tonic, a stimulant and much more. Nevertheless, this essential oil is fundamentally used to uplift one's spirit as well as provide relief from anxiety and stress or tension.

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For several years now, myrrh oil has been used to enhance the immune system as well as protect against and treat respiratory ailments, such as flu, colds, bronchitis and other diseases. It is said that myrrh essential oil may be used to effectively treat any hormonal imbalance and, therefore, this oil produces astonishing results when women use it to alleviate their problems like getting relief from cramps and menstrual pains, alleviating symptoms of PMS and other related conditions. Myrrh essential oil is also beneficial for our health as it works as a detoxifying agent by facilitating the removal of wastes and toxins from our system.

Several people suffering from skin disorders, such as itching, athlete's foot, chapped skin, wounds, scars and other problems often used superior quality of myrrh essential oil to get relief from their problems. Myrrh essential oil and products enclosing this oil have the aptitude to enhance the quality of our hair and teeth, protect against fungal contagions as well as promote discharge of digestive juices. This oil may also be combined with tea tree essential oil, thyme essential oil, rose essential oil, lavender essential oil, and sandalwood essential oil as well as other oils for effectual aromatherapy healing. Using the steams of this essential oil has exceptional sedative and anti-depressant effects. However, it needs to be borne in mind that, as in the case of other essential oils, using myrrh essential oil in excessive amounts may result in toxic side effects. In addition, it is advisable that women should avoid using myrrh essential oil during pregnancy.

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As mentioned earlier, myrrh essential oil possesses numerous therapeutic properties and is, therefore, used to treat as well as prevent several ailments. Topical application of this essential oil on the face rejuvenates the mature skin and makes it look youthful. In addition, myrrh essential oil is also effective in erasing wrinkles and fine lines like the crow's feet. Nevertheless, one of the main uses of myrrh essential oil is as a medication for gum problems and it finds place in the British Herbal Pharmacopoeia especially for its effectiveness in healing gingivitis (gum inflammation), mouth ulcers and pharyngitis (inflammation of the mucous membrane of the pharynx or sore throat). However, myrrh essential oil is commonly believed to be non-irritant and non-sensitizing, and, hence, safe for use when used in small amounts or in diluted conditions. This essential oil produces a placid and soothing effect on the nervous system and has the aptitude to induce peace and calm when it is inhaled through deep breathing.

Overall, the essential oil obtained by steam distilling the resins exuded by the trunk of the myrrh shrubs or trees is just superb. This oil not only makes the physical wellbeing of an individual certain, but also helps in elevating the spiritual aspects of the individual's personality.

The oil's expectorant attributes facilitates drawing out phlegm and mucus from the respiratory tract providing relief when one is suffering from flu, colds or sore throat. Myrrh essential oil possesses an incredibly earthy, warm, woody and balsamic fragrance that is generally well accepted by most people. Generally, this oil has a hue that has a golden-yellow tinge. However, occasionally the color of the oil has a brownish tone.

As mentioned earlier, myrrh essential oil possesses balsamic, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, sedative and antiseptic medicinal properties. In addition, this oil is also an excellent body toner and works as a superb tonic for the body. While this essential oil was generally ignored by pharmaceutical firms, today it is being increasingly used in preparing astringents. Use of myrrh essential oil aids the body in putting off ailments like toothaches, ringworm and halitosis (foul smelling breath).

Myrrh essential oil plays a vital role in dentistry and is found as an active ingredient in many mouthwashes and toothpastes. At the same time, it is highly valued by industries manufacturing perfumes, soaps and cosmetics for its aroma. This oil is also used to add essence in foodstuff and beverages. Moreover, myrrh essential oil is also effective in treating thrush when it is used as a douche.

This essential oil is especially effective for treating mouth and gum disorders - pyorrhoea (inflammation of the gums characterized by the discharge of pus and loosening of the teeth), mouth ulcers, spongy gums, gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and sore throats. When applied topically on the skin, it is effective in healing skin ulcers, boils, bedsores, eczema and weeping wounds (leaking wounds). In addition, it also helps in inducing menstruation and provides relief from menstrual pains. Most importantly, use of myrrh essential oil helps to ease the troubles associated with problematic labor during childbirth.

Generally, myrrh essential oil is widely used in aromatherapy owing to its properties that uplift or inspire the spiritual feelings and also bring clarity of thoughts. It is said that the use of myrrh essential oil helps in opening the mind to spirituality. This essential oil has the aptitude to soothe the central nervous system as well as induce peace and harmony. In addition, when myrrh essential oil is used especially as a scent, or for inhaling, it helps to alleviate depression and, at the same time, has a sedative effect. The aroma of myrrh essential oil is pleasant and brings in a soothing effect. This is the primary reason why it is often used to manufacture perfumes, cosmetics, fragrant soaps and detergents.

General properties

  • antiseptic
  • anti-inflammatory
  • fungicidal
  • tonic

Blends well with

General uses


The health benefits provided by myrrh essential oil notwithstanding, certain precautions need to be adopted while using this oil. Especially, this essential oil should not be used by pregnant women as it may cause forced abortion. Although this essential oil is usually applied externally, it has the aptitude to result in skin problems in people having sensitive skins. In addition, using myrrh essential oil in excess can also cause harmful effects on the heart rate.

It is important to note that if this essential oil is taken internally it may result in changes in the glucose level in blood and, thereby, impede the treatment for diabetes. You should never take unadulterated myrrh essential oil internally, but always water it down before use. Generally, all essential oils are available in highly concentrated forms and, hence, using them without dilution may result to grave after-effects. If you are applying any essential oil on your skin, remember to dilute it by adding suitable carrier oils before use.


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