We have known the benefits of myrrh essential oil since ancient times. In fact, it was one of the three gifts bestowed to baby Jesus by the three wise men.
The many health benefits of myrrh oil include wound healing, improved blood circulation, and oral hygiene. It can be diffused, applied topically and even taken internally.
Keep on reading to learn about more of its benefits and uses.
What is myrrh oil?
Myrrh essential oil is extracted from the myrrh resin that comes from the Commiphora myrrha tree. The myrrh tree, which is native to Egypt and is common in Africa and the Middle East, has distinctive white flowers and a knotted trunk.
Also known as merra, bol, bola, and gum, myrrh is harvested by cutting into the tree trunks to release the resin. This resin is then left to dry on the tree. Later this resin is collected and turned into a sap via steam distillation.
Myrrh has been used since ancient times. It was once a prized trade commodity along the ancient spice route. This essential oil has now become one of the most extensively used essential oils around the world.
The name Myrrh comes from the Arabic word ‘murr’ which means ‘bitter.’ This essential oil has a smoky smell that is sometimes bitter and is yellowish-orange in color and has a viscous consistency.
This essential oil contains organic compounds like sesquiterpenes, terpenoids, eugenol, limonene, and cadinene which provide its therapeutic benefits.
History of myrrh oil usage
Myrrh oil has been used for centuries in several cultures for medicine, religious practices, funeral rites, fumigation, culinary practices, and perfumery.
The first record of its medicinal usage dates back to 600 AD in China during the Tang Dynasty. Myrrh oil is also used in Ayurveda for its healing properties.
The Greek soldiers used myrrh oil to disinfect their wounds and stem the flow of blood because of its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties.
Myrrh essential oil is prized even today for its use in medicinal and cosmetic applications.
Benefits of myrrh oil
Myrrh oil provides powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antifungal, antiviral, antiparasitic, expectorant, and antispasmodic properties. It offers many health benefits like –
1. Antioxidant properties
Myrrh oil has rich antioxidant properties which may help deal with various health issues. According to a 2010 study published in the Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology, myrrh can protect against oxidative damage and immunotoxicity by lipid peroxidation and enhancing antioxidant and immune defense mechanism in rats (1).
2. Stimulates blood circulation
Myrrh essential oil helps promote blood flow to different part of the body. This property of myrrh oil ensures that all the cells and the organs receive a plentiful supply of oxygen.
Improved circulation also helps improve metabolism, which allows the nutrients to travel faster around the body. It also enhances the removal of waste from the body.
3. Helps treat cancer
Myrrh essential oil has anti-inflammatory properties that can help in preventing cancer cells from mutating. Several studies have found myrrh to be helpful in reducing the proliferation of human cancer cells.
According to a 2013 study from China, certain extracts and compounds found in myrrh can be useful in preventing and treating human gynecologic cancer disease (2).
Another study, published in Phytotherapy Research in 2016, found that myrrh contains phytochemicals like beta-bisabolene, which have toxic effects against human breast cancer cells.
4. Promotes healthy skin
Myrrh oil helps maintain healthy skin by eliminating bacteria and reducing acne. Myrrh oil also acts as a moisturizer when applied directly on to the skin.
It can also be added to skin care products to keep the skin looking young and healthy. The ancient Egyptians also used myrrh oil to prevent aging of the skin.
According to a 2010 study, when myrrh oil is applied to the skin around wounds, it helps elevate white blood cells, and this leads to faster healing of injuries (3).
5. Fights infections
Myrrh oil can be used both internally and topically to fight fungal infections. You can treat fungal infections like athlete’s foot, bad breath, ringworm, and acne with myrrh oil.
This oil is equally successful in dealing with bacterial infections. According to a 2014 study, myrrh oil can help treat persistent Staphylococcus aureus (staph) infections (4).
In fact, when myrrh oil is used in combination with frankincense oil, it enhances its efficacy (5).
6. Aids digestion
Myrrh oil helps in improving stomach health and digestion. It helps treat indigestion, diarrhea and excessive gas. This oil helps in relieving gas that is trapped in the intestines and also prevents it from forming in the first place.
In addition to taking it internally, you can also use steam inhalation or massage myrrh oil on your stomach to help calm your stomach.
7. Treats parasitic infections
Myrrh oil is also helpful in treating parasitic infections without causing any side effects like intestinal discomfort and abdominal pain that are the generally linked to anti-parasitic drugs.
When a drug derived from myrrh was used to treat fascioliasis infection in seven patients, the therapy proved to be highly effective. Not only did it improve the general condition and helped get rid of all symptoms and signs.
The researchers did not detect any fasciola eggs in the feces three weeks after treatment (5).
8. Improves brain function
As we grow old, our brain also goes through a deterioration process. However, using myrrh oil can help to slow down the progression of brain deterioration. You can consume it orally or use aromatherapy to gain the benefits of myrrh oil.
9. Promotes perspiration
Myrrh essential oil increases perspiration in the skin and helps remove excess water, salt and toxins from the body. Sweating also helps to cleanse the pores of the skin and aids in the release of harmful gases like nitrogen.
So, this oil can be used as a purifying agent to stay healthy and toxin free.
10. Improves oral health
Myrrh oil is highly beneficial for improving oral health. It can be used as a mouthwash to get rid of Halitosis, which is a bad breath causing bacterium.
Myrrh oil is also good for the gums as it reduces the redness and swelling caused by weakened gums or gum disease.
11. Astringent properties
Myrrh oil also has strong astringent properties. It helps strengthen the muscles in the digestive tract, gums, and other internal organs. It also helps strengthen the scalp and prevent hair fall.
The astringent property of myrrh oil also helps stop hemorrhaging of wounds. It helps by making the blood vessels contract and preventing the flow of blood.
12. Relieves respiratory problems
Myrrh oil is effective in dealing with respiratory problems like a cough, cold and sore throat. It also helps to reduce the deposition of phlegm in the respiratory tract and lungs.
13. Relaxes muscles
This essential oil helps in relieving the tension in muscles and nerves and prevents cramps and spasms. It also helps to relax your mind and create a sense of calmness. So, it is an excellent remedy to anxiety, stress, and depression.
Ways to use myrrh oil
There are various ways in which you can incorporate essential oils into alternative treatment for different illnesses. They can be inhaled, massaged into the skin or taken internally. You can gain the benefits of myrrh oil by –
1. Diffusing or inhaling it
You can buy an essential oil diffuser and diffuse it in your room. You can also blend myrrh oil with other oils like bergamot, or lemon to lighten up its fragrance.
Another way to use myrrh oil is to add a few drops in hot water and inhaling the steam.
2. Applying it topically
Myrrh oil can do wonders for your skin when you use it topically. Mix it with carrier oils like jojoba, almond or grape and benefit from its anti-aging, and wound healing benefits.
You can also mix it with any unscented to lotion and use it daily.
3. Taking it internally
Myrrh oil can also be taken orally as it helps in dealing with bad breath, and infections in the gums. It is a commonly used ingredient is toothpaste and mouthwash.
It also helps relieve digestive problems. Do check with an expert about the dosage before you ingest it.
4. Cold compress
You can add a few drops of myrrh oil to a cold compress and use it directly on the inflamed area. The antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties will help get rid of swelling and inflammation.
Side effects of myrrh oil
When used in moderation, myrrh oil is considered safe for adults. However, it can cause side effects in some people.
- When taken internally, myrrh oil can cause diarrhea in some people.
- It can lower blood pressure and lead to heart irregularities. So, if you have a heart condition, consult with your doctor before you use myrrh oil.
- Myrrh oil can lower blood sugar so it is not recommended for people who take diabetes medication as this can lead to dangerously low blood sugar levels.
- People undergoing surgery should stop using myrrh oil at least two weeks before the operation as it interferes with the blood glucose levels.
- Myrrh oil can enhance uterine contractions, so pregnant women should avoid using it.
Myrrh essential oil is extracted from the myrrh resin that comes from the Commiphora myrrha tree. This essential oil contains organic compounds like sesquiterpenes, terpenoids, eugenol, limonene, and cadinene that provide therapeutic benefits.
The health benefits of myrrh oil include improving blood circulation, protection against cancer, improved oral and digestive health and faster healing of wounds.