Mysterious Myrrh. Rich, warm, and woody, myrrh speaks to us of sacred spaces. connecting us to the likes of Mother Earth, Isis, Oshun, or Mary Magdalene. These tears of Horus act like the tears of a Phoenix, healing everything it touches. Myrrh is nature’s alchemist. Transmuting pain and sorrow into growth. Myrrh is a styptic, staunching our wounds both physical and emotional. With myrrh at our side we are strong enough to move on and let go. Myrrh grounds us, protects us, and guides us. Myrrh connects root and crown, physical and spiritual. The ancients knew the power of this medicine and used it wisely. Myrrh was a powerful ally for them. Don’t let it be a mystery to you.
Myrrh has been one of our closest allies, used in both perfumes and in medicine for almost four millenia. The ancient Egyptians used it in the embalming process, as medicine to heal wounds, and as an incense in their most important temples. It has been called mo yao in China, and used as medicine since at least 600 B.C.
Commiphora myrrha native to North Eastern Africa, Southwest Asia, and the Red Sea area. It is a member of the Burseraceae, or incense, family. One distinct characteristic of these trees is the hypoallergenic resins, which exude from their flakey bark. Frankincense is a cousin of Myrrh, also belonging to the Burseraceae family.
Commiphora myrrha is classified as a shrub, but can grow up to 12 feet in height. The resin from this tree is a reddish brown, and was once called the Tears of Horus by the ancient Egyptians. In commercial farms growers will cut the bark causing the tree to cry even more of its sticky aromatic resin. The resin hardens very quickly and is then scraped off of the tree.
The word myrrh comes from the Arabic murr, meaning bitter.
Myrrh was an important incense for use in the Egyptian temples of both Ra and Isis.
Myrrh was given to baby Jesus in Bethlehem from the Magi’s three gifts, and was also used to prepare his body after his death.
It is a useful fixative in essential oil blends and perfumes, meaning it makes the scent last longer.
How to Grow
Commiphora myrrha likes it hot and dry. It grows best in USDA zones 10 to 12. Its native home is very arid after all. To be happy it needs full, hot sun and sandy to rocky soil. In the wild it can often be found on rocky hills and ledges. Being at home in desert regions it can thrive in nutritionally poor soil. All it needs is very well draining soil. This shrub does NOT like its feet wet.
Typically Commiphora myrrha is propagated from seeds or cuttings. Seeds will typically germinate in 6 days – 14 days. Once these plants are established they are highly resistant to diseases and infections. They don’t need much attention, other than to make sure it gets lots of sun and dry soil. While the resin is what most people think of as being useful, the plant itself is also used externally for wounds, boils, and mouth ulcers, and added to oral preparations, like mouthwash and toothpaste.
A note on Resins
Myrrh essential oil is made from the gum collected from the tree. You need to be mindful when buying Myrrh essential oil. Be very wary of cheap oils here. The ones you want are steam distilled from the resin. These are always and without exception the more expensive option. There is something on the market called a resinoid that is solvent extracted using Benzyl Benzoate. This chemical is often used to treat lice and scabies. It’s not the worst thing in the world, but it can cause extreme skin irritation or cause an allergic reaction. When purchasing myrrh for medicinal use, the steam distilled is the better option.
Properties of Myrrh Essential Oil:
Essential Oil Facts
It is often asked how our ancient ancestors knew how to use these plants. For sure there was an element of trial and error. However they didn’t start from zero. When you need to know what a plant can be used for, ask it. It will tell you. Plants make these aromatic compounds for a reason. The benefits they give the plants are the same benefits they will provide for us. This is especially apparent with Myrrh.
Commiphora myrrha exudes its resin to heal its wounds. Myrrh has powerful antimicrobial and antifungal properties. It also hardens very quickly and acts as a styptic. This protects the plant from diseases and infections by preventing harmful microbes from entering and by closing the wound quickly. This is precisely what myrrh does for us.
Side note: Sometimes myrrh essential oil can be very viscous and hard to work with. Give the bottle a warm water bath to loosen it up.
Analgesic, Anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antimicrobial, antiphlogistic, anticatarrhal, antiseptic, astringent, antispasmodic, carminative, deodorant, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, sedative, stomachic, sudorific, uterine tonic, vulnerary
Myrrh works magic for your skin. It cleans, moisturizes, and tightens the skin. This makes it a good choice for those of us with skin that has been around the sun a few times. As a vulnerary myrrh is a top choice for healing cuts, ulcers, and wounds. It soothes dry cracked, itchy, and inflamed skin and is thus great at easing the symptoms of eczema. Myrrh has potent antifungal properties making athletes foot and ringworm cower at its appearance. Myrrh also acts as a styptic an will help stop bleeding. When used in hair care myrrh will strengthens the roots, reducing hair loss. It also reduces dandruff with its antiinflammatory properties.
Myrrh is also a champion for the digestive system, but really shines when it comes to oral care. Its antiseptic and analgesic properties make it a great choice to ease the discomfort of and heal cold sores, sore throats, and mouth ulcers. It is a powerful plant to use in mouthwashes and toothpaste as it helps heal gingivitis. It is also a good medicine to use for indigestion and excess gas.
Myrrh is certainly a friend you want around when you have a cold. It can ease the symptoms of colds, congestion, sinusitis, and bronchitis. It has the ability to reduce phlegm and ease coughs. Myrrh can also help get the inflammation of Asthma under control.
Ovarian Generative System
Myrrh is an emmenagogue, meaning it regulates and promotes menstruation. While this medicine is necessary sometimes this property certainly puts myrrh on the do not use while pregnant list. Myrrh can also even out your mood and eases mood swings especially during hormonal fluctuations.
Myrrh is calming and grounding. Just as it heals our physical wounds it is a powerful ally at healing our emotional wounds as well. Myrrh eases emotional stress, panic, over thinking, worry, and fear. It alleviates apathy and removes self doubts. While myrrh is a calming oil it stimulates the brain. It will boost energy and promote alertness. If you ever find yourself down in the dumps myrrh can help light your way. It transmutes our pain into progress. Myrrh is a balancing oil that can help you find peace and comfort after loss.
There was a very good reason myrrh has been used in holy spaces all over the world and throughout history. It is extremely protective and enhances spiritual awareness. Myrrh is one of the best aids for meditation. Myrrh adds strength to what you are trying to manifest. Myrrh is all about renewal, helping you ditch what you no longer need to make room for growth. Myrrh will help you clean out your emotional clutter.
Myrrh is an emmenagogue and should note be used while pregnant. Can cause sensitization. Use in moderation.
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Myrrh has been used for as long as we’ve had civilizations. Myrrh is an oil that is wonderful for both the root and the crown chakras. It links the physical and spiritual, mind and body. Our ancestors were not wrong when they chose this mysterious oil to work with. Myrrh essential oil is one of my favorite base notes. It is a fabulous fixative to use in blends. It has a warm, rich, spicy balsamic odor. The scent of myrrh dives deep and hits us in a primal place. It speaks of ancient mysteries, healing, earth, and truth. I love this oil so much it’s in a number of our blends. Myrrh adds strength and protection to any blend. Each of these is designed to nurture us, bringing out our inner strength. Myrrh is an essential component in these potions. Whether or not you choose to use one of my blends, myrrh is a wonderful tool to add to your bag of tricks.