Myrrh oil is commonly known by people as it was one of the gifts that were given to Jesus Christ by the three wise men along with gold and frankincense oil. This also highlights how important myrrh oil was in the biblical times.
The ancient uses of myrrh oil include it being used as a remedy for many health concerns, spice, and to purify the dead. In the modern times, the use of the oil has continued, though with a much wider range because of the scientific studies on it.
Researchers have particularly been interested in the benefits of the myrrh oil due to the abundance of antioxidants present in it as well as it is a potential natural remedy in fighting cancerous cells and tumors and many types of infections.
What Is Myrrh?
Myrrh comes from the tree known as Commiphora myrrha that is most commonly grown in the Middle East and Africa. It is a sap-like substance or a resin that is also botanically related to the frankincense essential oil.
The oil of myrrh is one of the most widely used essential oil in the world. Myrrh oil is partly popular due to its mention in the New Testament. In fact, myrrh oil is mentioned about 152 times in the Bible which shows its importance.
Some of the unique characteristics of the myrrh tree include its knotted trunk and white flowers. The tree usually does not have as many leaves as other types of the tree due to the climatic conditions it grows in.
For example, myrrh trees are typically seen in areas with conditions similar to a desert. The odd shape of the tree’s trunk is often the result of it adapting to the harsh weather changes along with the wind.
The process of harvesting the myrrh out of the tree begins with the cutting of the tree for releasing the resin. The sap-like substance then flows out of the tree and the whole scenario very much resembles tears flowing down cheeks.
The resin is then left to dry and collected later in order to make myrrh essential oil. After the collection, the sap is turned into myrrh oil through steam distillation.
Myrrh oil is known for its bitter, smoky, and sweet smell, which is also taken as a sign that the essential oil is ready. In fact, the very name of the oil is based on its smell. The word myrrh originally comes from the Arabic word murr which means bitter.
The myrrh essential oil has a viscous consistency which is seen almost immediately after the oil is prepared. The color of pure myrrh essential oil is always an orange-yellowish hue, similar to many of the perfumes colors in which it is used as a base.
Myrrh oil is known for its active compounds that have anti-inflammatory effects and work as antioxidants. It contains sesquiterpenes and terpenoids, where the former is particularly known for affecting the hypothalamus.
Sesquiterpenes have the ability to calm and relax a person by affecting the emotional center in the hypothalamus. Both of the compounds are been studied and used specifically for their therapeutic effects.
The latest studies on the compounds present in myrrh oil have focused on their ability to fighting infections, antibacterial properties, and potential anticancer activity along with many other advantages.
The Historical Use Of Myrrh Essential Oil
As mentioned before, myrrh essential oil has been used for more than a thousand years in the ancient healing techniques and medicines as well as in ceremonies of many different religions in parts of the world.
Historically, the oil was used for a number of purposes. The most common uses of myrrh essential oil included:
- Treating hay fever
- Antiseptic (for cleaning and faster healing of wounds, cuts, and injuries)
- Stopping bleeding
- Flavoring the food
A lesser known thing about myrrh oil is that it was also popular in traditional medicines in South Asia. The Chinese, specifically, used myrrh oil in many of their natural therapies and have continued to use it in their conventional medication.
For the Egyptians, the oil was a fundamental need for embalming. Other countries in the Middle East used myrrh oil to prepare the holy anointing oil which was required in places of worship for their prayers.
A shared use of myrrh oil among different areas of the world was burning it over hot coals in places of worship, public places, and rooms before any religious ceremony. Burning resin over coal was said to create an atmosphere of spirituality before any religious event.
Traditionally, myrrh oil was associated with loss, suffering, and negative energies as it was burned more and solemn events such as funerals more than any other ceremonies. Nowadays, the use of the oil is completely opposite.
The myrrh essential oil is commonly used to improve mental health by uplifting mood through aromatherapy in combination with citrus and frankincense oils. Myrrh oil is now used more for emotional stability and for promoting inspiration.
RELATED: The Top Uses Of Frankincense Oil
What Are The Benefits Of Myrrh Essential Oil?
Myrrh essential oil has many proven as well as potential benefits that require further research for the time being. Currently, the working of the oil is along with the recommended dosage are still being studied by the researchers.
The known benefits of myrrh essential oil up till now include:
According to a study published in the Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology, in 2010, myrrh oil is able to protect the liver from damage because of the presence of high antioxidant capacity in it. Further research has shown its potential use in treating liver disorders.
Antibacterial and Antifungal Properties
One of the known ancient uses of myrrh oil was treating cuts, wounds, and injuries for speeding up the healing process and for protection against bacterial or fungal infections. The oil can still be used for the same purpose.
It can be applied to cuts and injuries as well as to irritation and reactions on the skin such as allergy, athlete’s foot, acne, and ringworm. Apply the oil using a clean towel on dry skin.
The anticancer activity of the myrrh oil was discovered through as lab-experiment where it was found to reduce or even stop the replication or proliferation of the different types of the human cancer cells.
The researchers found that the oil was helpful in stopping the growth of eight different types of cancer cells. It was seen to be highly effective on gynecological cancer cells.
This promising discovery has led to many different studies on the myrrh essential oil to determine how the oil can be used for the treatment of cancer in humans.
Calming and Relaxation
Myrrh oil is commonly used in combination with frankincense oil for improving the mental health of a person. An essential oil blend with myrrh is often used for people with high levels of stress as it directly affects the hypothalamus.
It can also be used for massaging or can be directly applied to the skin and added to a warm bath for relaxing and calming down.
Myrrh oil is a common ingredient in skincare products worldwide and can help moisturize the skin as well as cure cracked skin or chapped lips. The oil was also used to keep signs of aging away and maintain healthy skin by the Egyptians.
Myrrh oil has also been seen to be an effective treatment for parasitic infections such as fascioliasis. This parasitic worm infection affects people around the world and is hard to control.
A medication prepared with myrrh for the health conditions was seen to reduce the symptoms of the infection significantly as well as reduce the parasite egg count in the fecal matter.