When a tree's wound penetrates through the bark and into the sapwood, the tree secretes a resin. Myrrh gum, like frankincense, is such a resin. When people harvest myrrh, they wound the trees repeatedly to bleed them of the gum. Myrrh gum is waxy and coagulates quickly. After the harvest, the gum becomes hard and glossy. The gum is yellowish and may be either clear or opaque. It darkens deeply as it ages, and white streaks emerge.
History: The trunk of the myrrh bush/tree exudes a natural oleoresin that hardens into what is classified as reddish brown “Tears”. Native collectors make incisions into the trees in order to increase the yield. Myrrh has been used for centuries as an ingredient in incense, perfumes, and for embalming and fumigations in Ancient Egypt. The crypt of the Church of Saint Demetrius has a stone pool for myrrh. In folk tradition it was used for muscular pains and in rheumatic plasters.
Called mo yao in China, it has been used since at least 600B.C. primarily as a wound herb and blood stimulant. Gerard said of Myrrh' the marvelous effects that it worked in new and green wounds were here too long to set down...' Myrrh oil, distilled from the resin, has been used since ancient Greek times to heal wounds.
Blends well with: Bergamot, chamomile, clove, cypress, eucalyptus lemon, frankincense, geranium, grapefruit, jasmine, juniper, lavender, lemon, neroli, palmarosa, patchouli, pine, rose, rosemary, sandalwood, tea tree, vetiver, ylang ylang.Color: Dark Brown
Aroma: Myrrh essential oil has a warm, earthy, woody, rich, spicy balsamic odour.
Common Uses: Myrrh is thought to enhance spirituality, and is a key ingredient in Anarres' Three Kings Oil and Spirit incense as it opens doors to other realms. Aromatherapists use it as an aid in meditation or before healing. Its actions are characterized as the following: antimicrobial, antifungal, astringent and healing, tonic and stimulant, carminative, stomachic, anticatarrhal, expectorant, diaphoretic, vulnerary, locally antiseptic, immune stimulant, bitter, circulatory stimulant, anti-inflammatory, and antispasmodic. Anticatarrhal, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antiviral, astringent, carminative, cicatrisant, emmenagogue, expectorant, fungicidal, sedative, stomachic, tonic, uterine, vulnerary.
Possible Uses: Amenorrhea, athlete's foot, bronchitis, chapped skin, dysmenorrhea, gums, halitosis, hemorrhoids, itching, mouth, ringworm, toothache. [Julia Lawless, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils (Rockport, MA: Element Books, 1995), 56-65.]
Constituents: Heerabolene, limonene, dipentene, pinene, eugenol, cinnamaldehyde, cuminaldehyde, cadinene. [Julia Lawless, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils (Rockport, MA: Element Books, 1995), 125.]
Cautions: Myrrh can be possibly toxic in high concentrations, and should not be used during pregnancy.
Safety Information: Mildly toxic when taken internally (no essential oil should be taken internally without the guidance of a qualified aromatherapy practitioner). [Robert Tisserand, Essential Oil Safety (United Kingdom: Churchill Livingstone, 1995), 208.]
Lawless reports that it may be toxic in high concentration and that it should be avoided during pregnancy. [Julia Lawless, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils (Rockport, MA: Element Books, 1995), 125.]