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Myrrh Essential Oil- Benefits, Uses, and Origin

Myrrh has been a popular source of essential oil dating back to Biblical times. It was regarded as a rare and precious commodity used as incense, perfumes, and during sacred rituals to purify the air. It has been used as an ingredient for traditional medicine such as those for pain relief, circulatory problems, and rheumatic complaints.

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The term myrrh comes from the Arabic word “murr” means “bitter.”Myrrh essential oil has a reddish-brown color which is extracted from the dried sap of the herabol myrrh (Commiphora myrrha) which is grown mainly in Somalia and Ethiopia. This thorny tree is native to northeastern Africa and southwest Asia. It stands up to about 9 feet tall and found mostly on rocky hills. Its flowers are yellow-red in color and bears a brown oval fruit. The branches of the myrrh tree are knotted branches and sharp spines. Another variety where myrrh essential oil is derived is the bisabol myrrh (Commiphora erythraea), the Arabian species of myrrh.

Myrrh oil has an earthy, woody scent. Some smells bitter and antiseptic while others may smell warm, spicy, and sweet. Myrrh and frankincense essential oil are both derived from resins of trees from the Burseraceae family which are known scents of incense. Myrrh essential oil’s main components are curzerene, (1,3)-furanoeudesma-diene, lindestrene, elemene, germacrene.

Traditional Uses of Myrrh Essential Oil

For a long time, myrrh essential oil has been used in traditional medicines, religious rituals, purification ceremonies, funerals, and in the field of perfume making. It was regarded as a rare and invaluable commodity traded along the ancient spice routes.

Myrrh oil had been used in traditional Chinese medicine mainly for circulatory problems. It has a stimulating effect on blood circulation thus soothing pain and discomforts circulatory problems such as bruises, sores, dysmenorrhea, chest and abdominal pain, and arthritis.

Myrrh was associated with suffering and is often used during funeral occasions. Ancient Egyptians used myrrh oil during the mumification process. It is said to mask the smell of the decomposition and the slow down the process.

Myrrh oil was considered an important concoction by the Greek soldiers. They use this to clean and disinfect their wounds from battles.

The oil was also taken internally, often mixed with wine and drank before start of rituals. This is because of its ability to stabilize emotion and lift the mood. This was also given to criminals who suffer from mental and physical anguish before their execution.

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Benefits of Using Myrrh Essential Oil

Promotes relaxation

Myrrh essential oil is commonly mixed with carrier oils and are used in giving aromatherapeutic massages. This induces relaxation. It can also be used during steam inhalation together with lemon essential oil and other citrus oils.

For cosmetics

Myrrh essential oil is used to soothe cracked skin and chapped lips due to harsh, dry weathers. A few drops of this oil on an unscented lotion can be used on the skin to reduce the appearance of stretchmarks and wrinkles.

Vitiligo, a skin condition where patches or areas of the skin lose pigmentation, can be treated using a blend of myrrh and sandalwood essential oil.

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Oral health

Myrrh works against oral infections and inflammations such as gingivitis and mouth sores relieving the pain that comes with them. Often some mouthwash and toothpaste are dosed with myrrh. Although it is approved by the FDA, it is still advised to refrain from swallowing products with myrrh on them since high doses of this may be lethal.

Anti-septic, antimicrobial, and anti-fungal

Myrrh essential oil had been used to promote skin health thru the treatment of wounds and infection. It was also used by new mothers to heal after vaginal deliveries. It could inhibit the growth of both bacteria and fungi on the skin which can further cause an infection. Myrrh blended with frankincense essential oil is an effective concoction against microbes and infections. Myrrh is also effective in killing certain molds that can cause food spoilage and contamination.

Reduce pain and swelling

Myrrh essential oil is an ingredient common in homeopathic rubbing oils which can relieve pain when applied to a sore area. It blocks chemicals that are responsible for inflammation which leads to pain and swelling. Myrrh also has compounds that has the potential to signal or tell the brain that it not experiencing any pain.

Fights bad bacteria

Traditional use of myrrh oil includes the purification of the air, preventing diseases from spreading. This is because of its anti-bacterial property which works against microbes and airborne bacteria. It helps stimulate the immune system to better respond to infections. Myrrh mixed with sandalwood essential oil is said to combat infections.


Myrrh essential oil is a potent antioxidant which combats free radicals that may cause oxidative damage to the organs of the body caused by pollutants and other environmental factors.

Effective component of sunscreen

Although it is not effective by itself, myrrh essential oil is an ingredient in many sunblock effective in blocking UV rays.

Safety Tips and Precautions

Myrrh essential oil is concentrated and therefore not recommended to be used directly on the skin or ingested. It can be mixed with carrier oil if to be topically applied. Avoid applying the oil to sensitive areas, including skin around the eyes and inner ears.

For pregnant and breastfeeding women, it is best to avoid myrrh oil as it can cause contractions in the uterus and cause miscarriage. It is not recommended for very young children.

Myrrh can also interfere with blood-thinning drugs and might weaken their effectivity. Since myrrh is known to stimulate blood circulation, those with heart diseases should refrain from using it without medical advice.

Myrrh can lower blood sugar so for those that are taking medications for diabetes, it is better to steer clear of the oil for it can cause to a very low blood sugar. Because of this, it is also advised to stop the use of myrrh two weeks before a surgery.


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