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Myrrh The History and use

Myrrh Resin
Myrrh is nature's miracle herb. It was one of the three gifts given to Jesus by wise men at His birth. This fact highlights the significance of Myrrh and projects it in a sacred light. The name Myrrh is derived from the Arab word 'morr' which means 'bitter'.

Myrrh, botanically, is an aromatic gum resin, an oleoresin to be specific. Oleoresin happens to be a natural blend of a resin and an essential oil. It is obtained from thorny trees of the 'Commiphora' genus when a wound in the tree trunk causes it to secrete a resin. The resin has a waxy texture and once harvested, it becomes glossy and hard. The trees are native to regions of Somalia and Ethiopia.

The history of Myrrh's alluring aroma and useful properties dates back to about 5th century BC when it was noted by Herodotus as an embalming agent used by Egyptians for mummies and for disguising foul smells. Even at that time, Myrrh was an important trade commodity valued for its multiple benefits. The resin was used as perfume, as an incense ingredient and found multiple uses in the field of medicine.

In fact, in the practice of Indian Ayurvedic medicine Myrrh finds special mention as a therapeutic herb. It seemed to work effectively in the treatment of diseases like gingivitis, respiratory infections, pharyngitis, mouth ulcers and many others. Chinese medicine considered Myrrh as a wound healer. It was used as a part of wound dressings and was believed to bring about fast healing and well-being. The traditional Chinese medicine also recommends Myrrh for arthritis, rheumatism, circulatory problems and amenorrhea. Samuel Thomson, a self-taught American herbalist appreciated the antiseptic and cleansing properties of this wonderful oleoresin.

The essential oil from Myrrh was used by Hebrew people to anoint the altar and other holy dishes of the Jewish temple. The Myrrh incense itself contributed to several religious ceremonies and customs. Ancestors believed Myrrh to be a treasure-house of rejuvenating properties, serving as a general refreshing tonic. In the contemporary world, Myrrh is being used as a constituent of healing salves for treatment of skin-related problems, abrasions etc. It may also seem to work as an analgesic for toothaches and gum problems.

In the olden times, camel caravans were used for Myrrh trade and its distribution throughout the Mediterranean region. In combination with Frankincense and other aromas, Myrrh forms an important part of many church services. When burnt on charcoal Myrrh releases an earthy and sweet aroma. In its ground form, it adds depth to the fragrance of incense. It also finds use as a colorant in many items and is an ingredient of soaps and mouthwashes. The gum resin appears to be almost magical, yet one should always exercise caution when using it as a medicine and an expert should be consulted.

As we understand Myrrh closely, we can't help but admire Myrrh for all that it represents and stands for. It comes to us as a legacy from history, to be enjoyed, used and treasured for times to come.

Enjoy! Roger Marlow
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