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Myrrh (commiphora molmol, c. abyssinica, or c. myrrha) is a member of the burseraceae family, native to the eastern Mediterranean, Ethiopia, the Arabian peninsula and Somalia. Myrrh is a shrubby desert tree known variously as gum, myrrh tree, guggal gum, guggal resin, didin, and didthin. Myrrh is an Arabic word meaning bitter. The highly valued aromatic gum resin of myrrh has a bitter, pungent taste and a sweet, pleasing aroma. A particularly treasured variety of myrrh is known as karam or Turkish myrrh.

The use of myrrh medicinally was recorded in China in A.D. 600 during the Tang Dynasty. Myrrh is used today in Chinese medicine to treat wounds, relieve painful swelling, and to treat menstrual pain due to blood stagnation. Myrrh is called mo yao in China.

Myrrh is the sweet-smelling oleo-gum resin that naturally exudes from wounds or cuts in the stems and bark of several species of this shrubby desert tree. The sap forms a thick, pale yellow paste as it seeps out. It then hardens into a mass about the size of a walnut, taking on a reddish-brown color. The volatile oil contained in the resin consists of sesquiterpenes, triterpenes, and mucilage. The tannin content gives myrrh its astringent action. Powdered myrrh has been endorsed by the German advisory Commission E as a beneficial treatment for mild inflammations in the throat and mouth. Myrrh acts as a broad-spectrum antiseptic and can be applied directly to sores and wounds.

Taken internally in tincture or capsule form, myrrh is a beneficial treatment for loose teeth, gingivitis, and bad breath. The tincture may also be applied directly to a tooth to relieve toothache. It is anti-fungal and has been used to treat athlete's foot and candida. Some research indicates that myrrh is effective in reducing cholesterol levels. It is a tonic remedy said to relax smooth muscles, increase peristaltic action, and to stimulate gastric secretions. Myrrh resin has anti-microbial properties and stimulates macrophage activity in the blood stream. The herb is being studied for its potential as an anti-cancer medication. Taken internally in tincture or capsule form, myrrh is useful for relieving gastric distress and as an expectorant, though this folk application has not been confirmed by experimental evidence. Myrrh is burned as incense and used to repel mosquitoes. It is also a component in healing salves used in veterinary medicine. In Chinese medicine, it is used for wounds, bruises, and bleeding.


Myrrh should be avoided during pregnancy and should not be administered to children. It should be kept away from the eyes and mucous membranes and out of children's reach.


No health hazards or side-effects are known in conjunction with the proper administration of designated therapeutic dosages.


No interactions are reported.

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