encyclopedia

Myrrh

Scientific Names:
Commiphora molmol Engl. [Fam. Burseraceae]

Forms:
Dried oleo-gum resin of myrrh tree bark; tincture of myrrh dried oleo-gum resin

Traditional Usage:
– Antibacterial

– Antinflammatory

– Antiseptic

– Antifungal

– Antinflammatory

– Bone and Joint Conditions

– Breathing Disorders

– Bronchitis

– Cankers

– Digestive Disorders

– Expectorant

– Flatulence

– Gargle

– Mouthwash/rinse

– Sore Throat

– Tooth Decay Prevention

Overview:
The dried oleo-gum resin of myrrh tree bark, Commiphora molmol Engl. [Fam. Burseraceae], has been used as a medicine against infections and for treating breathing problems and bronchial complaints for thousands of years. Myrrh is also highly valued as an incense and anointing oil in spiritual rituals of many different religions. The German pharmacopoeia recommends myrrh for treating mild inflammation of the mucous membranes of the mouth and throat. Myrrh is used in Middle Eastern medicine to treat rheumatism and as an anti-inflammatory and in India to treat cankers, gingivitis and respiratory catarrh (mucous). The Commission E states that myrrh has an astringent effect, however, other researchers claim that it does not because it does not cause local precipitation of protein and hence the formation of a surface layer of cells which protect against chemical, bacterial or mechanical action. Preliminary studies show that myrrh may be an effective treatment of fascioliasis (fluke parasitic flatworm infection). A study of seven infected patients was recently conducted using a formulation consisting of 8 parts resin and 3.5 parts volatile oil of myrrh. The myrrh extract was given in a dose of 12 mg/kg per day for 6 consecutive days in the morning on an empty stomach and patients were followed for 3 months. The therapy proved to be effective, with pronounced improvement of general condition and amelioration of all symptoms and signs. A dramatic drop in the egg count was detected at the end of treatment. Eggs were no longer detectable in the feces 3 weeks after treatment and after a follow-up period of 3 months. Elevated liver enzymes and Fasciola antibody titers also returned to nearly normal. No signs of toxicity or adverse effects were observed. Researchers concluded that the formulation of myrrh was safe, well tolerated and effective for treating fascioliasis.

Active Ingredients:

The following refers to aloes, not myrrh

Aloe dried latex contains: Approximately 13-27% aloins A and B (barbaloin, aloin, and glucosyl diastereoisomers of aloe-emodin anthrone). Aside from aloinosides A and B, other hydroxyanthracene derivatives are also present. 5-hydroxyaloin is characteristic of Cape aloes while 7- hydroxyaloin is found in Barbados aloe; small amounts of anthraquinones including aloe-emodin and chrysophanol. Chromone derivatives including 25-40% aloeresins A and B and smaller amounts C. Aloenin B (aloenin A and p-coumaroyl-glucose); p-coumaric acid methyl ester also occurs. Aloe gel contains: water; polysaccharides including acemannan; fatty acids including gamma linolenic acid; prostaglandins; salicylic acid; saponins; sterols; vitamins E and C; minerals including zinc; 20 amino acids (out of 22 required by the human body); and lectins.

Suggested Amount:
Myrrh is almost always taken as a tincture. The tincture is prepared by macerating 1 part myrrh with 5 parts of 90% ethanol. Myrrh is also used in preparing the digestive formula, Swedish Bitters. For external use on superficial skin wounds and other skin conditions, apply to the affected area two to three times per day with the undiluted tincture. As a gargle or rinse, mix 5-10 drops of the tincture into a glass of water. In tooth powders for dentists, a 10% powder is made into paint for applying to teeth.

Drug Interactions:
Studies have shown that myrrh extracts increase glucose tolerance. Myrrh extracts taken internally may lower blood glucose levels and therefore interfere with existing hypo- or hyperglycemia therapy (hypoglycemics include: insulin, Glucophage(R) metformin, DiaBeta(R) Glynase(R) glyburide, Glucotrol(R) glipizide). Myrrh extracts can also lower cholesterol and triglycerides and therefore may interfere with pre-existing therapies for hypercholesterolemia and hypertriglyceridemia.

Contraindications:
Not recommended during pregnancy. No studies are available on lactation safety, so use should also be avoided.

Side Effects:
Studies have shown that myrrh extracts increase glucose tolerance and also treat hypercholesterolemia and hypertriglyceridemia and therefore myrrh extract may interfere with pre-existing therapies for diabetes, high cholesterol and high triglycerides.

References:

Al-Awadi FM, Gumaa KA. 1987. Studies on the activity of individual plants of an antidiabetic plant mixture. Acta Diabetol Lat 1987 Jan-Mar; 24(1): 37-41.

Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J 2000. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Copyright American Botanical Council. Publ. by Integrative Medicine Communications, 1029 Chestnut Street, Newton, MA 02464. Pp. 273-277.

Dolara P, Corte B, Ghelardini C, Pugliese AM, Cerbai E, Menichetti S, Lo Nostro A. 200. Local anaesthetic, antibacterial and antifungal properties of sesquiterpenes from

myrrh. Planta Med. 2000 May; 66(4): 356-8.

Massoud A, El Sisi S, Salama O, Massoud A. 2001. Preliminary study of therapeutic efficacy of a new fasciolicidal drug derived from Commiphora molmol (myrrh). Am J Trop Med Hyg 2001 Aug; 65(2): 96-9.

Wichtl M (ed). 1994. Myrrha – Myrrh (English translation by Norman Grainger Bisset). In Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals. CRC Press, Stuttgart, pp. 345-347.