For thousands of years, myrrh oil has had many uses and benefits. For many, myrrh reigns prominent as one of the gifts (along with frankincense and gold) that the three Wise Men gave to Jesus in the New Testament of the Bible. In fact, myrrh is mentioned in the Bible 152 times. In Biblical times, myrrh was used as a natural remedy, a spice, and to help purify the dead.
Today, myrrh essential oil is used for various health problems. Researchers have found that myrrh oil has potent antioxidant activity, and can potentially treat cancer, certain types of parasitic infections, ulcers, and wounds. Myrrh oil may also help treat hypothyroidism, gum disease, digestive problems, upper respiratory problems, and fungal and bacterial infections. The following article will help explain how to use myrrh oil, and why it is so beneficial.
What is Myrrh Oil?
Myrrh oil is one of the more popular essential oils in the world. The myrrh tree is known for its knotted trunk and white flowers, and sometimes the tree has few leaves due to dry desert conditions. For harvesting myrrh, the tree trunks are cut into to help release the resin. The resin will dry and begin to look like tears along the tree trunk.
Myrrh oil comes from the dried resin extract of the Commiphora myrrha tree, which is common in the Middle East and Africa. It belongs to the Commiphora plant genus, and it is also related to frankincense in the Burseraceae plant family.
Myrrh essential oil has a smell that is sweet, smoky, and sometimes bitter. In fact, myrrh comes from the Arabic word “murr,” which translates to bitter. The essential oil has a orange and yellowish color, and it is often used as a base for perfumes and various fragrances.
The History of Myrrh Oil
Myrrh essential oil has a rich history in religious ceremonies and traditional healing therapies. Historically, myrrh oil was used for flavoring food, embalming, treating hay fever, and as a fragrance. It was also a popular paste to help stop bleeding, and an antiseptic for cleaning and healing wounds.
What was the most common historical use of myrrh oil? It was used to burn the resin over hot coals to release a mysterious, spiritual presence into a room before religious ceremonies. Myrrh is also a common medicine in traditional Chinese medicine, while the ancient Egyptians would use myrrh for embalming.
It is also commonly used in aromatherapy for meditation. Myrrh is also burned at funerals as the smell has traditionally been seen as a symbol of suffering. However, other times myrrh is blended with citrus oils to produce an aroma that is more uplifting to help promote emotional insight and inspiration.
10 Benefits of Myrrh Oil
What are the health benefits of myrrh essential oil? The active compounds in myrrh are sesquiterpenes and terpenoids, and both have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and anticancer benefits. The benefits of myrrh oil are also attributed to its antiviral, antifungal, antiparasitic, antispasmodic, and expectorant properties. The following are the top 10 health myrrh oil benefits.
1. Has potent antioxidant benefits
In a study published in the Food and Chemical Toxicology journal in 2010, researchers found that myrrh can protect against liver damage due to its antioxidant properties. Although the experiment was performed on rabbits, there is potential that myrrh can have a similar effect in humans.
2. Helps treat hypothyroidism
Myrrh oil can also naturally treat hypothyroidism. Myrrh decreases stress on an overworked, or low functioning thyroid. Use two to three drops on the thyroid to reduce symptoms.
3. May help treat cancer
A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Plants Research in 2011 found that myrrh can decrease the replication or proliferation of human cancer cells. The myrrh would inhibit the growth of cells from eight cancer types, especially gynecological cancers. Myrrh can also treat skin cancer by applying a few drops daily to the cancer site.
4. Treats ulcers and wounds
A study published in the Journal of Immunotoxicology in 2010 found that myrrh has the ability to reduce the incidence of ulcers, while improving their healing time. Myrrh oil can also be used to treat small scrapes and wounds.
5. Prevents gum disease and mouth infections
The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of myrrh can also help relieve inflammation of the gums and mouth due to mouth diseases, like oral ulcers and gingivitis. A review published in Pharmazie in 2002 found that myrrh oil is one of the most effective herbal medicines for treating gingivitis and canker sores. Myrrh is a common ingredient in toothpaste and mouthwash that can help prevent gum disease.
6. Anti-fungal and antibacterial benefits
Myrrh has a long history for treating and preventing infections. Adding a few drops of myrrh oil to a clean towel before applying to the skin can help treat minor skin infections like ringworm, athlete’s foot, and acne.
7. Anti-parasitic benefits
A medication with myrrh has been developed to treat the parasite fascioliasis infection. Research published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in 2001 found that the myrrh medication reduced the symptoms of the infection, while also dropping the parasite egg count in the feces.
8. Reduces digestive problems
Myrrh oil also promotes digestive health as a treatment for gas, upset stomach, diarrhea, indigestion, dyspepsia, and hemorrhoids.
9. Relieves upper respiratory problems
Myrrh can also work as an expectorant to help relieve congestion, reduce phlegm, and treat coughs and colds.
10. Improves skin health
Ancient Egyptians would use myrrh to maintain healthy skin and prevent aging. Today, myrrh is added to skin care products to help soothe cracked or chapped skin.
How to Use Myrrh Oil
In general, myrrh essential oil can be used similar to other aromatherapy oils. Essential oils can be sprayed in the air, massaged into the skin, inhaled, and sometimes taken by mouth. Myrrh oil also combines well with frankincense, lemon, bergamot, cedarwood, cypress, sandalwood, and patchouli. The following are ways myrrh essential oil can be used:
1. Diffused or inhaled
Using a diffuser or distiller, myrrh oil can be inhaled when you are sick to improve coughs, and symptoms of colds and bronchitis. As an alternative, add a few drops of myrrh essential oil to hot water and inhale the steam.
2. Applied to skin
Before applying it to the skin, combine myrrh essential oil with carrier oils like grape seed, almond, or jojoba oil. You can also mix myrrh oil with unscented lotion, and apply it to the skin. Overall, myrrh oil is great for healing wounds and rejuvenating skin.
3. Used as a cold compress
Add a few drops of myrrh oil to a cold compress, and apply it directly to an inflamed or infected area for relief. The antifungal and antibacterial properties of myrrh oil help reduce inflammation and swelling.
4. Taken internally
Caution must be taken when using essential oils internally. When planning to take essential oils internally for extended periods of time, consult the care of your health care provider or essential oil coach.
Homemade Myrrh Oil Recipes
1. Essential Oil Foot Balm Recipe
- 2 drops of lavender essential oil
- 2 tablespoons of beeswax
- 1 tablespoon of castor oil
- 2 drops of myrrh essential oil
- 1 tablespoon of hemp seed oil
- 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil
- 2 drops of lemon essential oil
Place the beeswax and vegetable oils in a glass bowl, and heat the bowl until melted on a bain marie, which is a saucepan with boiling water.
Add the essential oils. Mix and allow to cool, and stir on occasion. Scoop the mixture into a sterilized glass jar, and seal with a lid. It will last for up to three months.
2. Smoothing Gum Oil Recipe
- 1 drop of myrrh essential oil
- 1 drop of clove essential oil
- 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 drop of peppermint essential oil
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, and transfer to a sterilized small glass jar.
Gently rub the oil blend to the gums then rinse with water.
Final Thoughts on Myrrh Oil
In summary, myrrh oil can help treat cancer, hypothyroidism, ulcers, wounds, and parasitic conditions. However, there are some side effects of myrrh to consider. For instance, myrrh has been found to cause skin inflammation or dermatitis in some people. As a result, people sensitive skin should use caution. It is a good idea to test the essential oil before applying it on the skin to make sure an allergic reaction doesn’t happen.
When taken internally, myrrh may cause diarrhea and stomach upset. Chronic diarrhea can lead to dehydration, and therefore stop using when experiencing gastrointestinal issues. Myrrh may enhance uterine contractions, and so pregnant women should avoid taking myrrh.
High doses of two to four grams daily of myrrh oil may lead to reduced blood pressure and heart irregularities. Anyone with heart problems should consult their doctor before using myrrh essential oil. Diabetics and people with blood sugar issues should avoid myrrh because it may reduce blood sugar. Myrrh oil may also interact with anticoagulants and diabetes medications.
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Ashry, K.M., et al., “Oxidative stress and immunotoxic effects of lead and their amelioration with myrrh (Commiphora molmol) emulsion,” Food and Chemical Toxicology, January 2010; 48(1): 236-241, doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2009.10.006.
Ashry, E., et al., “Components, therapeutic value and uses of myrrh,” Pharmazie, October 2002; 58: 163-168; https://www.researchgate.net/publication/10813073_Components_therapeutic_value_and_uses_of_myrrh.
Haffor, A.S., “Effect of myrrh (Commiphora molmol) on leukocyte levels before and during healing from gastric ulcer or skin injury,” Journal of Immunotoxicology, March 2010; 7(1): 68-75, doi: 10.3109/15476910903409835.
Massoud, A., et al., “Preliminary study of therapeutic efficacy of a new fasciolicidal drug derived from COmmiphora molmol (myrrh),” The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, August 2001, 65(2): 96-99, doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.2001.65.96.
Su, S., et al., “Cytotoxicity activity of extracts and compounds from Commiphora myrrha resin against human gynecologic cancer cells,” Journal of Medicinal Plants Research, April 2011; 5(8): 1382-1389. http://academicjournals.org/article/article1380545334_Su%20et%20al.pdf.
Essential Oils: All-natural remedies and recipes for your mind, body, and home (New York: Penguin Random House, 2016), 73, 212, 219.