LEARNING

Learning At The Potter's Wheel is a collection of articles on home, family, marriage, parenting, natural medicine and herbs. . . along with a few other items of interest. Have fun sorting through my junk drawer of assorted thoughts and ramblings.

AT THE POTTER'S WHEEL

The Potter has persisted in giving me treasures I don't always understand or appreciate. Patiently, He is teaching me to trust that all I really need to know is that I am in HIS hands. . .

MYRRH

ALSO KNOWN AS:
Commiphora myrrha

PARTS USED
The gum resin and oil are used from stems

PHYTOCHEMICALS
& NUTRIENTS

Acetic acid, acetates of potassa, ash, benzoates, beta-sitosterol, campesterol, cinnamaldehyde, cuminaldehyde, dipentene, eugenol, gum, limonene, malates, m-cresol, polysaccharides, resin (myrrhin), salts, sulphates, triterpenoids, triterpene acids, volatile oil. Essential oil containing myrrholic acid, sesquiterpenes, furano sesquiterpenes, and heerabolene, a sesquiterpenene.

The tree Commiphora myrrha has ducts in its bark. Tissue between the ducts breaks down and forms cavities. These cavities and remaining ducts fill with a granular secretion known as Myrrh. This is harvested by wounding the bark and collecting the freely discharged sap. It flows as a pale yellow liquid, hardening to a reddish-brown mass. These masses, called tears, are about the average size of a walnut.

HISTORY
Myrrh has been used historically as an ingredient in incense, perfumes, skin applications and in the holy oil of the Jews and the Kyphi of the Egyptians for embalming and fumigations.

The Greek word for myrrh is μύρον, which became synonymous with the word for "perfume". At one time in Ancient Rome, myrrh cost five times as much as frankincense, although frankincense was more popular. Romans practiced cremation and Myrrh was burned in ancient Roman funerals to mask the smell.

Myrrh was so highly regarded in ancient times that it was often worth more than its weight in gold.

Genesis 37:25
. . . behold, a company of Ishmeelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh. . .

Myrrh has been used both as an embalming ointment and as penitential incense in funerals, cremations and other religious ceremonies. This is likely due to its mention as the primary ingredient in the anointing oil God commanded Moses to make.

Exodus 30:23, Take thou also unto thee principal spices, of pure myrrh five hundred shekels . . .

AROMATIC
Proverbs 7:17

I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon.

With its high volatile oil content, Myrrh is a pungent and aromatic herb. As a constituent of perfumes and incense, Myrrh provides an earthy element to the overall smell.

Myrrh kills bacteria which cause odors making it a deodorizer.

As incense, Myrrh produces a smoke that has a heavy, bitter scent, tinged with a hint of vanilla. Myrrh expands when burned instead of melting or liquefying.

AIRWAYS AND MUCUS MEMBRANES
Song of Solomon 3:6
Who is this that cometh out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all powders of the merchant?

An anti-catarrhal, Myrrh helps remove deposits of thickened phlegm and mucus secretions from tissues. Its expectorant properties help remove mucus from air passages, including inflamed bronchial tubes in the lungs. Myrrh increases the functional activity of the mucus tissues and thereby is helpful when treating breathing disorders. One of the ways Myrrh does this is by toning and stimulating the remaining healthy tissue while easing inflammation.

Myrrh is valuable in detoxification as it helps remove mucus and prevent microorganisms from breaking down organic matter (especially protein, tissues) that results in a foul smelling ooze (known as putrefaction). In this way, it fights infection and promotes cell and tissue regeneration.

In tincture form, it can be taken internally to treat a variety of respiratory complaints: Asthma, bronchial complaints, sinusitis, colds, flu, sore throats, etc. are eased with the use of Myrrh.

DIGESTION
Song of Solomon 5:1
I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse: I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey”

A stomachic and appetite stimulant, Myrrh both aids in the digestive process by stimulating gastric juices and improves the appetite. Its carminative properties enable Myrrh to ease bowel pains by removing gas, making it a good dyspepsia (abdominal pain, burning, nausea, vomiting) tonic. An alterative, Myrrh rebalances nutrition and elimination of waste, by cleaning and healing the stomach and colon. At the same time, Myrrh tones the digestive systems.

For stomach complaints, Myrrh is used in tincture form.

ANTI-PARASITIC
Myrrh is a general purpose anti-microbial. This means that it helps the body destroy or resist bacteria, fungi, AND viruses. These properties mean that Myrrh is classified as a natural anti-bacterial, anti-biotic, anti-fungal, and disinfectant. As a fungicide, Myrrh not only destroys fungi, but it also prevents and combats fungal infection.

Myrrh has been used to effectively treat parasitic infestations. It has been used to treat the microscopic organism (Treponema pallidum) which causes syphilis.

Studies have shown that Myrrh is effective in the treatment of flukes, and parasitic flatworm infections (fascioliasis). An extract consisting of 8 parts resin and 3.5 parts volatile oil of Myrrh was given in the amount of 12 mg/kg per day for 6 days. Doses were given upon rising, on an empty stomach. After 3 weeks, the eggs were no longer detectable in the participants’ fecal matter. Subsequent tests after three months showed that the condition had not reoccurred. Symptoms (including liver enzyme levels) improved with no signs of toxicity.

ANTI-SEPTIC
Psalm 45:8
All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad.

Topically, Myrrh’s anti-microbial properties make it an effective antiseptic and disinfectant. The dried resin, oil, or tincture can be used for this applicaiton.

ORAL HYGIENE
Song of Solomon 5:13
His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers: his lips like lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh.

Myrrh is an effective treatment for oral cankers (ulcers) and for bacterial mouth disease (periodontitis, gingivitis, and pyorrhea). Because of its anti-septic properties, Myrrh is beneficial in the treatment of bad breath. Myrrh can be mixed with tooth powder for this application or used as a mouthwash. Its stimulant property helps relieve toothache pain.

As a mouthwash or gargle, Myrrh can improve spongy gums, ulcerated throat, in addition to canker sores. For a sore throat, Myrrh acts as an anti-inflammatory, soothing and reducing swollen tissues.

By tightening the tissues and drying fluid secretions, Myrrh offers its astringent properties to the healing process. Inflammation of the mucus linings found in the mouth, throat, sinus cavity or digestive tract is eased with this application.

Five to ten drops of a tincture of Myrrh added to a glass of pure water can be used for a gargle or rinse. Dentists sometimes use a 10% tooth powder to make a paint that they apply to the teeth. I would think that 10 parts sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to 1 part Myrrh tincture would make a good powder for daily brushing of teeth and gums.

TOPICAL
Song of Solomon 5:5
I rose up to open to my beloved; and my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock.

Because Myrrh is an anti-microbial, skin disorders are greatly helped by its application. Conditions ranging from herpes simplex virus, fungal infections, ulcers, abscesses, boils, sores, wounds, weeping eczemas, bed sores, leprosy and deep cracks on hands and feet all benefit from its use. For this reason, Myrrh can be found as an ingredient in some liniments and salves formulated to heal and to relieve aches and sprains.

The insoluble residue in Myrrh tincture helps to coat the skin with soothing mucilage.

As a wash, Myrrh is both astringent and healing, helping the skin regenerate healthy cells and normalizing the damaged tissue. Herbalists classify herbs with this property as vulnerary.

For topical skin applications the undiluted tincture can be applied two to three times per day.

Because it is beneficial to the skin, Myrrh is a popular ingredient in plasters where extended application is needed. Myrrh is a rubefacient. As such, Myrrh increases blood flow and circulation to the site of application. One recipe uses equal parts (1.5 oz. each) of camphor, myrrh, and balsam of Peru added to 32 oz of an olive oil based soap (called lead plaster). The mixture is stirred while warm until cooling causes it to thicken. Plasters are placed between layers of cotton or flannel and then applied while warm.

RHEUMATIC & ARTHRITIC
Mark 15:23
And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but he received it not.

When used as a treatment for rheumatism and arthritis, Myrrh helps shrink painful tissues while acting as a tonic and a stimulant. Associated painful spasms of smooth muscles are also eased with its application.

IMMUNE BOOSTER
Song of Solomon 4:6
Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense.

Myrrh stimulates the immune system by multiplying white corpuscle production up to four times. These corpuscles are used by the body to defend itself against infection.

ENDOCRINE SUPPORT
Myrrh supports function of the lymph and respiratory systems, liver, spleen, pancreas and colon. By increasing the effectiveness of insulin, Myrrh extracts improve glucose tolerance. Because extracts can lower blood glucose levels, Myrrh can interfere with existing hypo- or hyperglycemic therapies.

CARDIAC
This herb also supports and promotes the function of the heart. The standardized extract of the Indian mukul myrrh tree, can lower cholesterol and triglycerides and therefore may interfere with pre-existing therapies for high cholesterol and high triglycerides.

Myrrh is used to treat Pulmonary consumption. The symptoms of this condition are emaciation, chronic weakness, cough, ongoing fever, and purulent (puss filled) expectoration.

Myrrh also supports healthy circulation.

FEMALE
Esther 2:12
Now when every maid's turn was come to go in to king Ahasuerus, after that she had been twelve months, according to the manner of the women, (for so were the days of their purifications accomplished, to wit, six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odours, and with other things for the purifying of the women;)

Myrrh acts as a stimulant to delayed menstrual flow and activity, classifying it as an emmenagogue. Leucorrhoea (a whitish discharge) is helped by Myrrh.

Myrrh in tincture form can be applied internally for menstrual and other related problems.

This herb also is an effective treatment for chlorosis, a form of chronic anemia that primarily affects young women.

PREPARATIONS
In veterinary practice, Myrrh is used in tincture form for healing wounds.

For humans, Myrrh is used in combination several other herbs including aloe, ginseng, safflower stamens, and cinnamon. Tinctures are most often made by alcohol extraction and used both internally and externally. Because of its tonic action, Myrrh would be a good addition to herbal rejuvenative drinks.

Myrrh is almost always taken as a tincture. A common recipe is to soften the herb (macerate it) by soaking it in a liquid of 1 part myrrh with 5 parts of 90% ethyl alcohol.

Several retail formulations use Myrrh. Swedish Bitters is a digestive formulation. Fernet Branka is a popular brand of amaro produced in Milan, Italy with over 40 herbs and spices in a base of grape spirits.

Other references in Scripture:

Genesis 43:11
And their father Israel said unto them, If it must be so now, do this; take of the best fruits in the land in your vessels, and carry down the man a present, a little balm, and a little honey, spices, and myrrh, nuts, and almonds:

Song of Solomon 1:13
A bundle of myrrh is my well-beloved unto me; he shall lie all night betwixt my breasts.

Song of Solomon 4:14
Spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices:

It is noteworthy that Myrrh was mentioned in regards to its use and application in the life of Jesus three times:

At His birth:
Matthew
2:11
And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.

At His crucifixion
Mark
15:23
And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but he received it not.

At His burial
John
19:39
And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.

CAUTIONS

Myrrh is not recommended for use during pregnancy or during excessive uterine bleeding. If there is kidney trouble or stomach pain, Myrrh is not recommended. I found no studies regarding its use during lactation, but Myrrh should likely be avoided by breastfeeding mothers.

Because Myrrh extracts increase glucose tolerance, lower cholesterol and triglycerides, users should be cautious in its application if they are receiving medical therapy for these conditions. Consult your doctor before use.

PLEASE NOTE - myrrh essential oil cannot be taken internally.

When using any essential oil on or in the human body, it is VERY important to know how the product was made. Some extraction processes use a chemical solvent. Look for those that use steam distillation or alcohol extraction for safe human consumption.

As with all herbs, avoid use of plants that have been exposed to toxic chemicals or have not been certified 'chemical free.'

Disclaimer: None of this is to be considered a substitute for medical examination and/or treatment. Use what you will, but do so knowing that you must consider your own circumstance and the application of these things with sound judgment.




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