Myrrh is a resin extracted from the strains of the balsam tree family. This resin has been an important part of personal hygiene, pharmaceutical production and culture of various countries and ancient empires for several thousand years. As the plants required for this grow mostly only in tropical or Mediterranean areas, myrrh is often an important economic factor in countries with suitable vegetation.

Occurrence & cultivation of myrrh

Externally, myrrh is often used in inflammatory diseases of the oral mucosa. The resin inhibits inflammation and disinfects the sore areas over a large area.

The use of myrrh was already an integral part of the burial culture in ancient Egypt over 3000 years ago. The sticky and solid resin was used in embalming and as incense at funerals. The great world religions such as Judaism and Christianity also used myrrh from the beginning as an offering for their deceased and as part of cultic anointing.

Myrrh has also been widely used as an aphrodisiac, as well as a cure for many other ailments. In the ancient healing arts, myrrh was even so important that in the ancient Roman Empire the highest prices for this raw material were paid. If the harvest was bad, myrrh was at times more valuable than gold, and even in the ancient world an important status symbol for rich and well-to-do people.

The myrrh is taken directly from the living wood of the balsam tree, mostly the Commiphora myrrha . When removing it is important not to damage the tree, because only with appropriate care and expert treatment, a balsam tree can produce high-quality resin over several years. To gain the resin, a notch is carved into the tree and a collection container is placed under it.

The resin flows directly into the collection container and can be passed on for processing. Since the trees grow mainly in tropical areas, the myrrh today is one of the most important assets of the third world. Large growing areas can be found, for example, in Somalia and other African countries. An advantage of the production is that the dried resin requires no further processing and can be used directly.

Application & Effect

Depending on how it is used, myrrh has different effects and can therefore be used in a variety of ways. Usually, treatments with myrrh or extracts of it are natural medicine. Due to its versatility and good results, however, the resin is now also used more frequently in conventional medicine. The application in medicine can be subdivided into two parts:

Externally, myrrh is often used in inflammatory diseases of the oral mucosa. The resin inhibits inflammation and disinfects the sore areas over a large area. In addition, the application promotes scarring. Myrrh also has a hemostatic, antispasmodic and calming effect and is therefore used more frequently in intestinal diseases.

For internal use, the chewed myrrh (very bitter) proves beneficial in bronchitis and intestinal inflammation. Chronic intestinal diseases such as Chron's disease can be proven to be more effective with myrrh than with conventional products of conventional medicine.

Another form of external application may be by igniting and smoking the myrrh. However, care should be taken to ensure that colds and bronchitis are easier to assess, as the smoke heavily pollutes the pores and respiratory tract. The smoked resin has a proven soothing and relaxing effect and exudes a pleasant and soft fragrance when dosed correctly. Less is more - too much is added, the fragrance quickly turns into an unpleasant and pungent odor.

Due to the pleasant smell, myrrh has always found its way into many perfumes and toiletries. Here, the sticky resin is used more as a fixing material. The fragrance obtained from the oil, however, is often found in the top note and is especially popular in Arab and Far Eastern countries. It is obtained with the aid of the process of water distillation. As a basic component it also serves in many western perfumes in the upper price segment due to its velvety and soft touch.

Importance for Health, Treatment & Prevention

Myrrh has experienced a real revival within the last decades. It used to be a pleasantly smelling incense, but today it is already an important part of many alternative and orthodox medical treatments.

However, it is quite expensive compared to other domestic medicinal products such as stinging nettle or fennel, because their cultivation and extraction are complicated and time-consuming. Especially the plants, from which the resin can be obtained, present the breeders again and again with challenges.

Although easy-care and undemanding, they are always surprisingly sensitive to breeding trials that have the goal of increasing yields. Due to the increased demand in medicine, in the beauty scene and ultimately also among private users as a luxury item, it can be assumed that myrrh will continue to be one of the most popular home remedies worldwide.


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