Myrrh got its name from the Arabic word murr, which means bitter. The myrrh tree grows to be about thirty feet tall. Myrrh is indigenous to eastern Mediterranean countries, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Yemen, and South Arabia. The herb comes from a spiny, deciduous, bushy tree that grows to about fifteen feet, producing yellow-red flowers and pointed fruits. Myrrh is the resin that is a pale, yellow, granular secretion which discharges into cavities in the bark when it is wounded. The exudate hardens to a reddish-brown mass about the size of a walnut. It is harvested from June to August and dried for medicinal use. Myrrh should not be confused with British Myrrh, which is from a different plant family.
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In the past myrrh was used by many cultures for religious ceremonies and as a healing agent. It was mentioned in the Bible as a gift at the birth of Christ. The Egyptians believed in its healing powers. They burned it every day as part of their worshipping rituals. In the Greek culture when soldiers went to battle is was an essential part of their combat gear because of myrrh’s extremely high antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. It was used to clean wounds and to prevent infection.
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Since myrrh is not soluble in water, it cannot be taken in the form of an infusion, but only in powder or tincture form. Gargles, mouthwashes and douches can be made from diluted tinctures.
Tinctures are used externally on such infections as canker sores or in gargles and, internally, for feverish conditions, including head colds and glandular fevers. It is ideal in expectorant mixtures to treat upper respiratory problems.
Powdered myrrh is rubbed onto sore gums and often used as an analgesic. When mixed with safflowers, it is also used for abdominal and menstrual pain support.
Resin Burning Guide:Use cup, bowl or incense burner deep enough to fill with earth or sand. Light charcoal on bottom edge until coal begins to ignite, sit charcoal on earth or sand within burner. Let sit for a brief period; until the coal has started to glow, then place resins or powder on charcoal. These coals will burn for an hour or so. Continue to place resins or powder on charcoal as they burn out and smoke decreases for a continuous burning. Once charcoal is lit, it should burn out thoroughly for the full period of time; it can not be extinguished and re-lit at another time.
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