Herbs & Botanicals
Myrrh (mo yao)
What is myrrh? What is it used for?
Myrrh is a form of gum resin derived from the commiphora tree, which
is native to northern Africa and southwest Asia. When the bark of the
tree is cut, myrrh seeps out in yellowish, reddish-brown masses that are
shaped like tears and are sometimes as big as walnuts.
Myrrh consists of water-soluble gum, alcohol-soluble resins and volatile
oil. The gum contains polysaccharides and proteins, while the volatile
oil is composed of steroids, sterols and myrcene. Myrrh's characteristic
odor is derived from substances called furanosequiterpenes.
While it is believed that myrrh was introduced into traditional Chinese
medicine in the seventh century, it has been used in Middle Eastern medicine
to treat infected wounds and bronchial conditions for much longer, perhaps
thousands of years. It also has a long history of use in ayurvedic medicine,
where it has been used to treat mouth ulcers, gingivitis and disorders
of the female reproductive cycle.
How much myrrh should I take?
As a gargle or rinse, most practitioners recommend using 5-10 drops
of myrrh tincture to a glass of water. As a mouthwash, the recommended
dose is 30-60 drops of tincture in a glass of water.
What forms of myrrh are available?
Myrrh is available as a powder, tincture or topical cream. Tinctures
are used in gargles, mouthwashes and rinses; they can also be applied
directly to affected areas of the gums or mouth.
What can happen if I take too much myrrh? Are
there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I
There are no known side-effects or drug interactions with myrrh. While
there are no restrictions for its use while lactating, it is recommended
that women do not take myrrh while pregnant.
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