|Myrrh is the dried resin of several species of Commiphora (Burseraceae). Commiphora species are small trees or shrubs with short, thorny branches. They're spiny, deciduous, bushy trees that grow to about fifteen feet, producing yellow-red flowers and
pointed fruits. These bushes are of sturdy build, with knotted branches, and branchlets that stand out at right-angles, ending in a sharp spine. The trifoliate leaves are scanty, small and very unequal, oval and entire. Myrrh has been used since ancient times in incense, perfumes, and holy ointments. Natural myrrh resin is one of the oldest known perfumery materials. Myrrh has a long history of use as incense, especially with frankincense, during the Christmas season.
Myrrh is stimulant, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, astringent, expectorant, antispasmodic, and carminative. The three main constituents of myrrh are the resin, the gum, and the volatile oil. Myrrh is a powerful antiseptic, being a remedy second only to echinacea. It is a strong cleaning and healing agent, soothing the body and speeding the healing process. Myrrh has been used medicinally for centuries, for treating conditions ranging from battle wounds to skin inflammations. The Greek physician Hippocrates prescribed it for sores, and the Romans used it to treat worm infestations, coughs, and certain infections. In Traditional Chinese medicine, myrrh is used to correct defective health, as a sedative, and for wounds and ulcers. Myrrh has long been used for skin infections, including acne, as well as for muscular pains and in rheumatic plasters.
Myrrh has astringent properties and has a soothing effect on inflamed tissues in the mouth and throat. Myrrh is now found most often in mouthwashes to soothe mouth and throat irritations. 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 tooth ache. In addition to relieving inflammation, using myrrh as a mouthwash also is thought to improve bad breath. Myrrh stimulates the production of white blood corpuscles and is an effective anti-microbial agent. Myrrh oil is also used in the treatment of amenorrhea, athlete's foot, bronchitis, dysmenorrhea, gum disease, halitosis, and ringworm. Essential oil is diluted and used externally on wounds and chronic ulcers or in lotions for hemorrhoids.