MYRRH’S HISTORY AND IT’S BENEFITS.
Myrrh is the natural gum or resin that is extracted from a tree from the genus commiphora and species myrrha, hence the scientific name commiphora myrrha. These trees are native to north eastern Africa (Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea) and the Arabian Peninsula (Oman and Yemen now Saudi Arabia). The trees are small, thorny and they have white flowers. There are two varieties of myrrh namely: Herabol and Bisabol.
Herabol myrrh comes from the myrrh trees growing in Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia and Somalia.
Bisabol comes from commiphera erythraea which is a species from Arabia.
The trees grow in parched, rocky hills and they usually grow 3m tall. The Somali myrrh is different from the Arabian myrrh in that it has white marking while the Arabian ones are more brittle and gummier.
Myrrh Extraction Process.
Myrrh is extracted the same way as frankincense resin. The bark of the tree is cut or deep incisions are made in the tree. The sap also known as resin is allowed to flow out of the tree and is allowed to harden then scrapped off the tree trunk. The resin looks like tear shaped droplets. Myrrh resin can be used in the dried hardened form or steam distilled to yield essential oil.
Myrrh has a scent that is smoky, spicy, sweet, bitter, dry and woody. The sap from myrrh trees has a yellowish colour and a viscous consistency before it hardens.
Did you know the hardened resin and the essential oil are edible? The hardened resin is actually chewed like gum.
Myrrh was traded in the Middle East and North Africa over 5000years ago. It was among the items that were in high demand mostly because it was used in religious ceremonies, as medicine and for everyday use like fragrance and oral care. Its trade route reached Jerusalem and Egypt from Oman and Yemen (now Saudi Arabia) following the red sea at the coast of the Arabian Peninsula. The ancient Egyptians imported large amounts of myrrh because of the many uses it had. In ancient Rome, myrrh was priced really high than frankincense.
Uses of Myrrh in the Ancient Times.
Myrrh was one of the three gifts given to baby Jesus when he was born along side frankincense and gold. Myrrh has been mentioned a couple of times in the bible most probably because it was an item that was sacred to the Hebrew people. In the bible we are told that myrrh was used for the purification of women and that it was one of the oils of the holy ointment and more interestingly that myrrh was a fairly sensual perfume. Myrrh was also used as an incense blend when mixed with other substances to be burned in the temples of Jerusalem. Myrrh represented Christ’s suffering from the time he was given the gift. Christ was also offered wine that was mixed with myrrh prior to his crucifixion as written in the book of mark.
In ancient Egypt, myrrh was used alongside frankincense to embalm the bodies of the deceased. The myrrh resin not only preserved the body but also perfumed it.
In the churches today, myrrh is mixed with frankincense to be used in most religious precisions.
In the ancient times, myrrh was considered powerful and was used to purify and cleanse in a number of rituals done for magic. It was used alongside frankincense in rituals related to banishing, breaking curses and for protection against magical attacks. Myrrh was used to purify thee sacred places where the magical rituals were being performed by burning the resin as incense. Myrrh was also used to purify the magical tools.
In ancient Egypt, myrrh was offered to the goddess Isis to call upon her spirit for assistance.
In ancient times the Chinese used myrrh mainly for medication and it remains part of the medicine till today. It is used by the Chinese for its blood moving powers which is like stimulating the blood especially stagnant blood from the uterus. It is therefore recommended during delayed menses which are definitely not caused by pregnancy. Myrrh was also used in aromatherapy especially for meditative purposes.
Myrrh was used to treat infections, bruises, skin conditions and also toothache. Myrrh was also used to treat hay fever and stop bleeding.
Myrrh was also used to calm down their nerves by burning the resin as incense.
Other uses of myrrh in ancient times were: as fragrance, flavouring for food.
Myrrh for acne.
The four factors that contribute to acne increase are;
- Abnormal growth of skin cells
- Increase in sebum (oils produced by the skin naturally).
- Increase in acne causing bacteria (Cutibacterium ).
- The above factors lead to the inflammation of the skin.
The bacteria C. acnes is contributes to acne progression because of the ability of the bacteria to secrete toxic enzymes, degrade the sebum oil and activate the skin innate immunity. Myrrh has shown antibacterial activity that inhibited the growth of different pathogenic bacteria. Myrrh has local stimulant and antihealing, antiseptic properties for wounds and abrasions.
The skin being a protective barrier against the outside world, any break to it must be rapidly and efficiently mended. When acute wound healing does not progress due to the mentioned factors (especially the presence of bacteria ) complications can occur. The wound contraction ability myrrh observed in this study indicates that the plant possesses a definite pro-healing action.
Frankincense and myrrh work well hand in hand in that they both amplify the others properties making them work better.
Myrrh for oral care.
Did you know that most toothpaste companies use myrrh as one of the ingredient in their toothpaste?
Myrrh has outstanding properties that help with oral health care. Having good oral health means having good digestive health which means great overall health. Many studies have been done to prove that myrrh is the ultimate answer to all the oral health issue that may arise whether it is inflamed or bleeding gums and even mouth ulcers. Myrrh has the ability to relieve toothache pain temporarily. Myrrh can be used as a mouth wash to prevent oral infections. You can make your own herbal mouth wash using myrrh as the main ingredient. All you need are: 1tbsp of powdered myrrh, 1tbsp of cloves, a quarter cup of spearmint leaves and 2 cups of vodka. Combine the ingredient in a jar that has a tight fitting lid and let the ingredients infuse for 4-6 weeks. After the infusion is all done, strain the liquid and transfer to a tight fitting container or dropper bottles for storage. Before using, add 5-10 drops of the liquid to a shot of water and swish in your mouth for 30 second then spit out.
Benefits of myrrh.
- Myrrh has properties that help with the protection of our nervous system.
- Myrrh helps heal acne scars
- Myrrh has got ant parasitic, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal benefit
- Myrrh helps to fight cancer.
- It can treat inflammatory bowel syndrome
- It helps treat hypothyroidism
- It helps lower blood sugar levels
- Helps with oral care
- It relieves pain
- Myrrh is also a solution for vaginal infections
- It offers relief to upper respiratory problems
- It helps control fungal sinuses
- Myrrh also boosts the immunity of our bodies
- Prevents aging signs
- Promotes healthy skin
- Fights against acne
- Promotes faster healing of skin infections
- Reduces the appearance of pores
- Soothes inflamed skin
Spirituality and well being
Myrrh has been used over the years in aromatherapy especially during massages.
How to use myrrh.
There are three ways in which you can use myrrh namely: diffuse the myrrh essential oil by the use of a diffuser in the house or inhale it by adding a few drops of the oil in hot water then inhale the steam, by using it as a cold compress and by applying to the skin topically by mixing it with other carrier oils.
Safety precautions when using myrrh.
Pregnant mothers are not advised to use myrrh without consulting their doctors.
People under diabetes medication should avoid using myrrh due to its hypoglycaemic effects.
People under anticoagulant medication are not advised to use myrrh due to its ‘blood moving’ nature.
- Acne (7)
- Aromatherapy (19)
- Frankincense and Myrhh (14)
- Natural Beauty (25)
- Mask (4)
- Soap (2)
By Eila Oketch.