Myrrh is a resin that comes from trees belonging to the genus Commiphora, which grow in Northern Africa and the Middle East.
The sap-like substance, which has a unique sweet and smoky aroma, has a wide range of uses.
Modern scientific research is beginning to find evidence suggesting that myrrh may offer some health benefits. However, it is important to note that many of these claims require further studies.
A study published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology found that myrrh (Commiphora molmol) emulsion was able to protect against lead (PbAc)-induced hepatotoxicity.
The authors of the study concluded that myrrh (Commiphora molmol) emulsion is a "powerful antioxidant" that can "protect against PbAc-induced hepatic oxidative damage and immunotoxicity by reducing lipid peroxidation and enhancing the antioxidant and immune defense mechanisms."
Antioxidants are thought to help neutralize oxidative stress in the body that is caused by environmental pressures, such as pollution, and other factors.
Possible anticancer properties
A group of Chinese researchers revealed that extracts and compounds from Commiphora myrrha resin may be effective against human gynecologic cancer cells. Their findings were published in the Journal of Medicinal Plants Research.
In 2017, scientists published results suggesting that frankincense and myrrh might help relieve neuropathic pain, following positive results when treating pain in mice with a water extraction of frankincense and myrrh.
Myrrh has long been used in parts of Asia as a traditional medicine for inflammatory diseases. In 2015, researchers published results of a rodent study indicating that it may help treat inflammation linked to rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Other possible uses of myrrh
Despite a current lack of scientific evidence, many people use myrrh for treating:
Myrrh is mainly used:
- as a fragrance
- for embalming
- to flavor food products
- for its potential therapeutic properties
The essential oil has been part of medical practice in traditional therapies for millennia.
The word myrrh comes from the Arabic word "murr" which translates into "bitter."
In Ancient Egypt, myrrh was used to treat hay fever and herpes. The ancient Greeks used it as an antiseptic for soldiers to clean up battle wounds, and myrrh was commonly carried into the battlefield.
Myrrh is mentioned in the New Testament as one of the three gifts the three wise men brought to Jesus when he was born. The gifts were gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
People are advised not to consume high amounts of myrrh as it can potentially cause severe heart irregularities, according to a study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research.
In addition, people who have sensitive skin may develop allergic contact dermatitis. The finding was reported in a study published in Contact Dermatitis.
Women who are pregnant should avoid taking myrrh by mouth as it may be a cause of miscarriage.
Side effects of myrrh may include:
Myrrh essential oil and other products are available to purchase online. Before using any essential oil or other natural remedy, you should speak to a health professional to make sure it is safe and suitable for you to use.