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November 20, 2023
Soothing to the mind, body and soul, myrrh is an ancient oil that has been used for over 4000 years. It’s probably most well known today as one of the gifts given to the baby Jesus from the wise men in the bible’s New Testament. These gifts were considered to be the finest wares, therefore we know that by the time the gift was given, myrrh had already achieved a special (and expensive!) place in the hearts and minds of the people at the time. Let’s find out why.
Myrrh is an aromatic tree resin that comes from the Commiphora myrrha tree common to Africa and the Middle East. It produces white flowers, few leaves, and large knots in the trunk. While myrrh resin can seep out of the tree naturally, for essential oil production, the tree bark is given an incision and the sap drips out. It is given time to dry on the tree and then collected. Once the myrrh resin is collected, essential oil is made during a process of steam distillation.
Myrrh is commonly sold in its dried resin form as well, which can be carefully place on charcoal embers and used as a smoke to purify a space. It has also been used to make incense. As we will see, the therapeutic properties and applications of myrrh include spiritual practice, cosmetic applications and oral health. Often associated with funerals, myrrh has been used in embalming for centuries. Myrrh is known to slow decay, in part because it kills bacteria.
The word myrrh comes from the Arabic murr, which means bitter. Myrrh has a woody, balsamic scent, similar to frankincense and in many cases the two essential oils can be used in place of each other. Myrrh has a deep scent that I find goes a bit deeper than frankincense. The essential oil can be quite thick. I have found it to be thicker than frankincense. If you have trouble getting myrrh out of the essential oil bottle here are a couple of tricks that may help.
Make sure that your hands are warm. Place your essential oil bottle, lid closed, between your hands and warm up the bottle for a few minutes, gently turning the bottle in your hands. This may help the myrrh come out more easily. I also recommend transferring your oil into an amber glass bottle with a dropper instead of storing it in an essential oil bottle with orifice reducer.
Working with myrrh may take patience but it’s totally worth it to make your plan to work with this effective essential oil. Here are 5 proven benefits of myrrh essential oil that you need to know.
Looking for anti-aging natural skincare? Mature skin will benefit from a moisturizer with myrrh. It shows strong antioxidant properties. A study published in 2005 showed myrrh essential oil to be a stronger antioxidant than vitamin E. [i] This beauty secret has been known for centuries. In fact, ancient Egyptians used myrrh for the appearance of youthful skin.
Myrrh has anti-inflammatory and astringent properties making it a good choice for acne prone skin.
The essential oils that come to us from resins are often healing for the skin. Myrrh is one of the leading skin healing essential oils thanks to its chemical component curzerene, which has been found to be beneficial for wound healing. Myrrh has been used historically to clean and treat wounds. It can be especially beneficial in wound healing when blended with sandalwood. Historical uses of myrrh also include it’s use in balms to stop bleeding. Ancient Greek soldiers were known to carry myrrh with them to treat wounds in battle. Myrrh has been used to provide relief for red, irritated and itchy skin.
Myrrh also has antibacterial and antifungal properties. It’s antibacterial effect may be increased by blending it with frankincense. As an antifungal, it has been used for athlete’s foot.
Myrrh has been known throughout history for its positive effects on oral health. It has been used in mouth rinses and is known for being beneficial for the gums. A study was conducted to assess the effect of myrrh mouthwash healing benefits after tooth extraction. It was found that myrrh had enhanced healing effects after tooth extraction. The effect on swelling, tenderness and socket size were measured.[ii] It is also thought that myrrh may speed up the healing of canker sores.
Myrrh has been used in mouth rinses to help calm bad breath. Its anti-inflammatory properties and antibacterial properties make it a great choice for help with gum inflammation. If you are using myrrh for oral health, be very careful to not swallow it. Ingesting myrrh can be toxic.
Myrrh resin has been smoked or made into an incense, as a spiritual cleanser to purify an environment since ancient times. The ancient Egyptians added myrrh as an ingredient in their incense, Kyphi, used for ritual, healing, and home purposes. When diffused or used as an incense, myrrh can help to cleanse the air in your space both physically and spiritually. If you prefer to not use smoke for spiritual cleansing in your home, create a diffuser blend with other cleansing oils such as frankincense or citrus oils. Or you can make a liquid smudge using a combination that is half water and half witch hazel. Add this to a glass container with a mister. Look up your dilution rates according to the size of your container and add up to 5% myrrh essential oil. Now you can use myrrh to smudge your space without the smoke.
Myrrh essential oil is known to be a decongestant and can be diffused for its expectorant properties. Give your respiratory system a rest by diffusing myrrh when you feel a cold coming on. Combine it with frankincense or a drop of rosemary to start your journey to feeling better.
Myrrh is a great oil to use for meditation and prayer. It can be a loyal companion when you are finding your spiritual path. Myrrh is a grounding oil that can help with emotional balancing. It contributes to a feeling of calm and provides a sense of peace. It is an effective oil to use for meditation.
Myrrh is one of the ingredients added to the holy anointing oil, which it is said consisted of myrrh, cinnamon, calamus, cassia and olive oil.
Myrrh is a great essential oil choice to use in a massage blend to enhance relaxation. It’s anti-inflammatory properties help provide soothing to the muscles. Be sure to blend it with lighter notes, such as citrus oils, for a relaxed, yet happy feeling.
The chemical component, furanodiene, found in some myrrh essential oils is considered to be a pain reliever. Double check the chemical reports from your supplier to see if you can use your myrrh essential oil in a lotion for sore muscles.
Allow myrrh essential oil to bring about the holiday spirit in winter, particularly at Christmas time. Myrrh can be a very deeply scented oil, so it is a good idea to blend it with a lighter note.
Myrrh has been used topically to help with hemorrhoids. Combine it with tea tree essential oil to boost its effectiveness.
Remember to always dilute essential oils into a carrier oil, such as jojoba oil, before using them topically. Never ingest essential oils. Ingesting myrrh essential oil may be toxic.
There are some cautions to note regarding this essential oil. Myrrh should not be used in pregnancy or while breast feeding. It is considered to be fetotoxic. Also avoid using myrrh if you are on anticoagulant or diabetic medication. For detailed essential oil safety information please refer to Tisserand and Young’s Essential Oil Safety publication.
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