Sacred Gifts ~ Myrrh

Sacred Gifts – Myrrh

Myrrh is in the same family as the balm of Gilead, referenced in the Bible.  It is familiar to most as one of the gifts of the Magi to the newborn Christ.  Since ancient times Myrrh has been prized for the many medicinal, as well as sacred, uses it has.  It is commonly used in its original resin form or as an essential oil.  Myrrh is obtained as the dried oleo gum resin of a variety of Commiphora species of trees.  The resin is secreted by the tree when the bark has been cut or injured into the sapwood.  In resin form or as a pure essential oil, Myrrh has been used internally and externally, alone or synergistically blended with other ingredients.

Other names:
Commiphora myrrha, Balasmodendron myrrha, Hirabol myrrh, Heerabol Myrrh, Mu-Yao.


Myrrh has a rich, smoky, and earthy aroma.  It is a favorite ingredient of natural medicines among all cultures going back to its early discovery in the far reaches of time.  A native to Ethiopia and Somalia, Myrrh has been used historically as long ago as 3000 BCE by the Egyptians for embalming.  Into the 15th century, Myrrh has been burned as incense during cremations and funerals to cover up the foul odors of the dead.  Myrrh was also used to anoint kings and to scent fabrics for use by those on a spiritual journey to holy places.  Myrrh is reported to be one of the key ingredients in the mythical Egyptian perfume Kyphi.  Like Frankincense, the ancient Romans considered Myrrh to be as valuable as gold, often using it as security for monetary debts.  Without a doubt Myrrh is one of the most famous natural ingredients in the world used by many cultures and religions for medicinal and spiritual uses.

Historical Uses:

Traditionally Myrrh has been used for the treatment of spasms and infections.  Its most common use medicinally is for oral hygiene as a mouthwash for treating the gums.  Today it is found in many natural brands of toothpaste and mouthwashes.  It is known for its soothing effect on the upper respiratory system relieving coughs and the symptoms of colds.  It is also known to be helpful in failure of menstruation and in chronic fatigue.  In addition to problems with the teeth and gums, Myrrh has been used for the digestive system and skin.  In Ayurvedic medicine, Myrrh is a desirable addition to the rasayanas for rejuvenation and disease prevention.  Myrrh Gum is commonly found to be a primary ingredient in many traditional Middle Eastern, Chinese, and Tibetan formulas, in addition to the numerous natural oral health remedies and salves for the skin.

Common Applications:

Myrrh gum has a stickier consistency than Frankincense tears.  Just as with Frankincense, Myrrh can be burned in a dish made for burning incense.  Soap-stone or a shell lined with a layer of sand provides a nice dish to burn Myrrh.  Myrrh essential oil can be diffused in an open diffuser as it is too thick and sticky for a nebulizer, unless it is mixed with other oils.  In aromatherapy, Myrrh, which is associated with inspiration, strength, and endurance, helps the individual move forward in their life both spiritually and emotionally.  It is considered to be centering and calming, as it instills mental tranquility.  Myrrh is used to impart peace as it helps to ease feelings of sorrow and grief.  In use during meditation Myrrh helps one to connect to their inner self and to the realization of dreams.  To use as a disinfecting external poultice for skin eruptions, chicken pox, bedsores, and minor cuts, a known herbal formula combines Myrrh with comfrey leaf, slippery elm, and lobelia.

Charlotte Test, ND, MH

The Herb Peddler – Gettysburg, PA


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