Balsamea myrrha (T.Nees) Oken
Balsamea myrrha Baill.
Balsamea playfairii Engl.
Balsamodendrum myrrha T.Nees
Commiphora coriacea Engl.
Commiphora cuspidata Chiov.
Commiphora molmol (Engl.) Engl. ex Tschirch
Commiphora rivae Engl.
Common Name: Myrrh
Myrrh is a spiny, deciduous shrub or small tree growing about 5 metres tall. It usually has a small but distinct bole[
An oleo-resin gum exudes from the bark of this species and various other members of the Commiphora genus[
]. It is one of the oldest recorded medicines, having been extensively used in ancient Egypt[
]. Famous for being one of the gifts that the three wise men brought to the baby Jesus, it is often used in modern herbalism. Myrrh is not usually cultivated, most of it being harvested from the wild[
This herb is contraindicated during pregnancy because of its emmenagogic activity. It is advisable to dilute myrrh before use and administer moderate doses. Allergic reactions have been observed[
Eastern and northeastern Tropical Africa - Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya; Arabian Peninsula - Saudi Arabia, Oman..
Thickets in desert scrubland[
]. Open Acacia, Commiphora bushland on shallow soil, chiefly over limestone at elevations from 250 - 1,300 metres[
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A plant for the drier tropics and subtropics, where it can be found at elevations from 250 - 1,300 metres[
]. Plants prefer a minimum temperature that does not fall below about 10°c[
]. It grows wild in areas where the mean annual rainfall is within the range 230 - 300mm[
Requires a well-drained soil and a position in full sun[
]. Prefers shallow soils and is chiefly found over limestone[
A fragrant, balsam-like gum oleo-resin is obtained from wounds in the bark of the stems[
]. It is used for flavouring beverages, baked goods, sweets, desserts, chewing gum etc[
The resin obtained from the bark of myrrh is a pungent, astringent, aromatic herb that is strongly stimulant, antiseptic and expectorant[
]. It relieves spasms, inflammation and digestive discomfort, and encourages healing[
]. It is particularly associated with women's health and purification rituals[
The resin is taken internally in the treatment of dyspepsia, bronchial and ear infections, glandular fever, tonsillitis, pharyngitis, gingivitis, menstrual and circulatory problems[
Myrrh is used externally to treat mouth ulcers, wounds and boils and is often added to oral preparations[
]. It is one of the most effective herbal medicines for treating sore throats, mouth ulcers and gingivitis[
]. The mild astringency makes it a useful treatment for acne, boils and mild inflammatory skin problems[
The resin is collected from cut branches and dried to a solid, which can be distilled for oil, ground into a powder for tablets, or dissolved in tinctures[
An essential oil obtained from the resin is used by aromatherapists as a natural antiseptic for treating skin and mouth problems[
An important species protecting soil in wind erosion prone areas[
A hard, translucent, yellowish gum-resin is obtained from wounds in the stem[
]. It has an aromatic taste and odour, but may be acrid and bitter[
]. It is inflammable, but burns feebly[
]. It is used for perfumery and as an incense during religious ceremonies[
]. It was also originally used in embalming[
]. Myrrh is a common ingredient of toothpowder, and is used with borax in tincture, with other ingredients, as a mouth-wash[
An essential oil can be obtained from the plant[
]. (From the resin?[
].) The oil is deep amber in colour with a warm, spicy, bitter and smoky aroma. Myrrh oil is considered helpful for meditation, and aromatherapists recommend the naturally antiseptic essential oil for skin and mouth problems[
Hardwood cuttings at the end of the growing season[
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