The natives make incisions in the bark of the trees causing the exudation of a yellowish oleoresin. Exposure to the air causes the resin to dry, harden and turn a reddish-brown. The dry resin is collected for distillation.
Note: After tapping, the trees require 6 months to 2 years to recover. It this time is not allowed because of economic hardships (or extra profits) the tree will wither and die.
Color: light brown to rich amber
Aroma: Hot, pungent, spicy, dry and sometimes resinous.
Note: Myrrh is one of the few essential oils whose fragrance is said to improve with time - so, age it well. However, be aware the oil can become gummy and sticky possibly due to polymerization.
According to Guenther ~ the oil of myrrh was reported to contain 1-pinene, cadinene, limonene, cuminaldehyde, eugenol, m-cresol, a tricyclic susquiterpene hydrocarbon acetic acid, formic acid, and some other unidentified sesquiterpenes and acids.
Due to the great variety of botanical species, myrrh oil will vary considerably in viscosity from water-like to thick and resinous. This would account for the wide variations in the color and aroma of the oil.
Myrrh resin has a significant history dating back some 4000 years in healing, perfumery and in religious ceremonies. While myrrh had many uses in ancient medicine, the main areas were in wound care, oral (teeth and gum) problems, respiratory problems.
It was an ingredient of incense used for religious ceremonies and fumigation by the ancient Egyptians. It was also an ingredient of the famous Egyptian perfume 'kyphi', and was an important ingredient in embalming.
Because of its ability to preserve the flesh myrrh oil was used as a cosmetic ingredient. It was reputed to reduce wrinkles and preserve a youthful complexion. Egyptian women used myrrh in their facial preparations. It has a slightly cooling effect on the skin, and so would be especially useful in a hot dry climate.
Mind & Spirit:
Myrrh unites the spiritual and physical being inspirational and grounding. One of the most renowned incenses along with frankincense. Myrrh is thought to enhance spirituality and may be used either in an oil burner or inhaled directly. Use it as a meditation aid or before any healing session.
Myrrh is particularly valuable for people who feel stuck emotionally or spiritually and want to move forward in their lives.
Planetary Association .... Saturn, Jupiter & Sun
Chakra ....................Base (1) or Sacral (2)
Elemental Association .... Earth
Color Vibration ...........Red
- Is said to be an excellent expectorant and as such is of value in bronchitis, coughs and colds especially where this is thick mucus.
- Also, Myrrh is said to prevent infection, clears toxins and promotes tissue repair.
- Myrrh is said to be a uterine stimulant and promotes menstruation thus relieving painful period.
Skin & Hair:
The efficacy of myrrh for the treatment of chronic wounds and ulcers is legendary. This is due to its antiseptic, astringent, anti fungal (blended with tea tree) and anti inflammatory properties. It is specially valuable for:
- wounds that are slow to heal
- for weepy eczema
- athlete's foot.
- ideal in skin creams for deep cracks on the heels and hands.
Precautions ~ External use only. Nonirritant, non-sensitising, possibly toxic in high concentrations. Avoid during pregnancy.
Note: Due to its extensive use in foods and oral products, myrrh essential oil has been tested extensively for toxicity for ingestion. It has been approved for use in food by the FDA (USA) and The Council of Europe. It has also been tested for dermal irritation due to its extensive use in perfumery and is considered safe. The British Herbal Compendium 1992 list contraindications for myrrh as 'none known'.
Because of the uncertainty of the mix of chemical constituents in myrrh, a contraindication for internal use is a wise precaution.
Normal precautions should be observed when using any essential oil.
Transition/Moving On ~
Myrrh ............4 drops
Cypress ......... 3 drops
Eucalyptus .......3 drops
Nutmeg ...........2 drops
Kerr, J. Aromatherapy Today Journal Vol.23, Sept 2002
Guenther, E. The Essential Oils Vol.4, (1952) pp. 344-348
Battaglia, S. The Complete Guide to AT.
Watt, M - Frankincense & Myrrh