Myrrh Oil: Benefits, Uses, Properties, and Side Effects
From hair care and skin care to treating various ailments at home, the myrrh oil benefits are abundant. In fact, myrrh is one of the most commonly found ingredients in expensive beauty products, especially for the skin.
Let’s understand the various health benefits that this essential oil can offer.
What is Myrrh oil?
Myrrh oil is extracted from the dried resins of the Commiphora myrrha tree. They cut the bark of the tree, whereby a yellow sap comes out. When that’s dried, it turns out to a reddish-brown resin. Upon steam distilling the resin, it yields in myrrh oil. (1)
It has various medicinal, commercial benefits and is popular since the biblical times.
Scientific Name Of Myrrh Oil
The botanical name of myrrh is Commiphora myrrha.
History Of Myrrh Oil
The Myrrh tree grows to a height of 2 meters (or 6.5 feet). Bluish grey, silver, or white bark with knotted branches are the distinguishing features of the tree.
The tree is native to the Middle East (particularly Ethiopia, Somalia, Oman, Kenya, Yemen, and Arabia) and Northern Africa. It belongs to the genus Commiphora and family called Burseraceae.
The term “myrrh” is derived from “murr,” which, in Arabic means “bitter,” probably, referring to the resin’s bitter taste.
The benefits of myrrh oil, however, hasn’t been recently discovered. It is popular since biblical times. It was the precious gift (along with gold and frankincense) offered by the three wise men to the newborn Jesus.
It is also mentioned in Ebers Papyrus, one of the oldest Egyptian medical texts dating back to 1550 BC.
The Egyptians used Myrrh for worshipping the Sun god. They used it for embalming their pharaohs who were the most powerful political as well as religious leaders.
The Greek soldiers used the Myrrh resin to stop the wounds from further bleeding in the battlefields.
Color, Consistency, and Smell Of Myrrh Oil
- The color of myrrh oil is yellow or greenish-yellow.
- The consistency of myrrh oil is thick.
- The smell of myrrh oil is rich, balsamic, and earthy.
Properties Of Myrrh Essential Oil
The medicinal properties of myrrh oil include:
- Antibacterial – Inhibits the growth of bacteria
- Anti-inflammatory – Reduces redness, pain, and swelling
- Embalming – Prevents decomposition
- Healing – Helps in healing the wounds
- Fragrant – Has a sweet or pleasant smell
- Antioxidant – Inhibits the process of oxidation
- Antifungal – Blocks fungal growth
- Antiviral – Effective against virus
- Anti-parasitic – Helpful in the treatment of various parasitic diseases
- Expectorant – Relieves congestion and helps clear sputum
- Antispasmodic – Relieves the spams of the involuntary muscle
- Anticancer – Effective against tumor or cancerous cells
Chemical Compounds In Myrrh Oil
The compounds in myrrh essential oil are:
- Cuminic aldehyde
- Formic acid
- Acetic acid
- Trimethyl- N-Octylacetate
- Acetic acid
- Formic acid
Health Benefits Of Myrrh Oil
Though the myrrh oil benefits are abundant, the most noteworthy ones that have gained immense popularity in recent days are these:
- Effective against cancerous cells
- Treats fascioliasis
- Prevents dental caries
- Heals wounds
- Preserves dairy products
- Promotes healthy skin
- Treats respiratory problems
- Helps in embalming
- Natural flavoring agent
- Adds fragrance to perfumes
1. Effective against cancerous cells
Myrrh oil has anticancer effects. A study assessed the anticancer effects of myrrh oil in 2013 on five tumor cell lines namely HepG2, MCF-7, HeLa, A549, and HS-1 using the MTT assay.
The results stated MCF-7 and HS-1 cell lines were sensitive to the myrrh oil. Also, the anticancer effects of myrrh oil were much higher than those of frankincense oil which is also a known anticancer agent. (2)
2. Treats fascioliasis
One of the best health benefits of myrrh oil is that it helps in the treatment of fascioliasis.
Fascioliasis is a parasitic infection typically caused by Fasciola hepatica, a parasitic worm that infects people. The worms pass through the intestine and reach liver – the place where they mature as adult flukes and further, produce eggs.
Usual symptoms are fever, vomiting sensation/nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, indigestion, abdominal pain, diarrhea (frequent, loose stools,) and cough.
During a study, the researchers studied seven patients who passed Fasciola hepatica eggs in their stools. They were administered with a drug that had 3.5 parts of myrrh oil and 8 parts of myrrh resin.
The researchers gave the medication to the patients at a dose of 12 mg/kg per day for six consecutive days in the morning on an empty stomach. After the treatment, there was a dramatic drop in the egg count in the patients’ stools.
- There were no eggs in the stools three weeks onwards post-treatment.
- There was an improvement in the health and general wellbeing of the patients.
- Patients were not experiencing the symptoms of fascioliasis even after three months of treatment.
3. Prevents dental caries
Myrrh essential oil fights dental caries and this is concluded by a research published in 2016. Streptococcus mutans is the bacteria primarily responsible for cavities.
Cavities cause sensitivity, pain, and difficulty in chewing. When you do not address them, they deepen the cavities causing an abscess. Oral bacteria are also responsible for causing bleeding gums, halitosis/bad breath, mouth ulcers, and other gum diseases.
However, myrrh oil fights against oral bacteria and infections, keeping your mouth healthy. No wonder myrrh oil is one of the most commonly used natural ingredients in mouthwashes and toothpastes. Myrrh is also an ingredient of tinctures, which treat gingivitis (6, 7, 8).
4. Heals wounds
Both dried resin and myrrh oil helps in healing wounds. An article published in the Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine talks about the research conducted on wound healing.
During a study, researchers observed the wound healing in rats that were treated with myrrh oil and without myrrh oil.
They applied an ointment, which had myrrh oil (4% w/v) to the wounds. They assessed the toxicity of the formulated ointments via Draize skin irritation test, and the ointment was non-irritant.
They evaluated the acute anti-inflammatory effect in mice via carrageenan-induced mouse hind paw edema model.
They carried out the antimicrobial activity tests using disk diffusion and broth dilution techniques against 21 pathogenic bacterial and 4 fungal strains.
At the end of the study, the researchers confidently concluded myrrh oil fastens:
- Wound contraction (which is an integral part of wound healing).
- Epithelization time (skin forming time).
- Stronger skin (higher skin breaking strength).
Thanks to its antibacterial properties, which are comparable to the standard antibiotic ciprofloxacin and antifungal properties that are similar to the standard drug griseofulvin.
5. Preserves dairy products
Usually, natural cheese has a limited shelf-life. But here’s a good news – a recent research confirms myrrh essential oil can extend the shelf-life of processed cheese without any unwanted effects.
Myrrh oil prevents the growth of microorganisms that spoil cheese. Also, Myrrh EO is natural and safe with a MIC (Minimal Inhibitory Concentration) of 2-5 μL mL.
During the study, the researchers tested myrrh oil on all types of cheese-spoilage microbes, and the oil was effective on all of them.
At a concentration of 2%, myrrh oil was proved optimally beneficial. Also, the cheese’s organoleptic properties were as it is. The cheese was gum-less, shiny, and there was no oil separation with the meltability (the capacity to be melted) being the same.
The researchers observed the samples for up to 12 months, and the results were satisfactory. Thus, 2% myrrh essential oil can serve as a natural preservative in dairy products (11).
6. Promotes healthy skin
Myrrh oil helps you to maintain a healthy skin. It slows down the aging process and soothes chapped/cracked skin. It also minimizes wrinkles and restores your overall skin health.
Its antibacterial properties reduce the occurrence of acne, eczema, and athlete’s foot.
*Acne is the skin infection where there is a boil or a pimple due to bacteria and excess oil.
*Eczema is a condition where the skin turns red and itchy.
*Athlete’s foot is the fungal infection between toes, which cause rashes and burning.
Myrrh essential oil is also suitable for bruising as well as for first degree burns as well as sunburns. The oil goes well in the form of a lotion. Owing to this unique property, it is an ingredient of most luxury skincare products. (12)
7. Treats respiratory problems
Myrrh essential oil prevents cough, cold, and sore throat. It also relieves congestions and eliminates excess phlegm.
It boosts the movement of blood cells and helps in clearing excess mucus. Besides this, myrrh also boosts immunity and prevents all sorts of infections including cold. Thanks to its antimicrobial properties. Many herbalists use myrrh EO as an astringent for the mucous membranes of mouth and throat (13).
8. Helps in embalming
Myrrh oil helps in embalming.
9. Natural flavoring agent
Myrrh essential oil is popular as a flavoring agent in food products. The furanoses-quiter-penoidslind-estrene and its analogs contribute to 19% of the essential oil and are the ones responsible for its rich scents (18).
10. Adds fragrance to perfumes
Perfumers use myrrh oil as a resinoid or an absolute oil. It is an ingredient in a considerable number of modern-day perfumes. Thanks to its heavy balsamic odor derived from furanosesquiterpenes (19, 20).
What Blends With Myrrh Oil?
Myrrh essential oil blends the best with:
How To Use Myrrh Oil?
Dilute the oil with suitable oil and follow these instructions:
- Mix a couple of drops in your bath water.
- Massage on the skin/ affected area.
- Use as a mouthwash to nullify dental infections.
- Use it in cold compress to eliminate infections. A cold compress is an ice pack or a cool washcloth that helps to relieve the injury and pain.
- Apply over your wounds to fasten the healing process.
- To ease congestion, you can add a couple of drops of myrrh oil to hot water (not boiling) and inhale the steam.
Though FDA has approved myrrh oil as a flavoring agent and a food additive, use myrrh oil under the guidance of a certified practitioner.
Traditionally, myrrh oil is used to boost the emotional and spiritual wellbeing. The oil contains up to 75% sesquiterpenes that affect the regions of your brain mainly hypothalamus, pituitary, and amygdala, which control your emotions and balance your hormones.
Side Effects Of Myrrh Oil
Myrrh oil is safe if you use it under the guidance of a practitioner. Also, it’s safe only when you use it in moderation.
Using myrrh oil above the recommended levels (2 grams) can cause the following side-effects:
- Bleeding in the uterus
- Low blood pressure
- Diarrhea / frequent, watery stools
- Systemic inflammation/ inflammation throughout the body
- Worsening of fever
- Skin rashes
Do not use myrrh EO if you are:
- Suffering from diseases
- Under any medication
Myrrh oil can interfere with the action of your anti-diabetic medicines and dangerously lowers your blood sugar levels.
It can also interfere with the action of anticoagulants and cause excessive bleeding. If you are sensitive to the oil, you may experience allergic dermatitis (redness, swelling, and bleeding).
Thus, it’s advisable to perform a patch test before you use the oil. Dilute myrrh oil using a carrier oil and apply a little amount of the same with a cotton swab over the inside of your forearm; observe for ten minutes. If you do not notice any allergic reactions such as redness, it’s safe to use the oil.