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Commiphora molmol (Burseraceae)

MYRRH, MIRRA, DIDTHIN

 

One of the oldest known medicines, it is valued by herbalists for wounds and infections, and as a mouthwash. It is also used by Ayurvedic and Chinese physicians.

 

There are many Old Testament references to myrrh, and its name is thought to derive from the legend of Myrrh, whom the gods turned into a tree to protect from her father's anger at discovering he had been tricked into incest. Her tears are said to be the exudates of resin from the bark. A shrub with gnarled branches and small three-petalled leaves, myrrh is native to the driest parts of northeast Africa and Arabia, but Somalia is the main source of the drug.

 

PARTS USED

Oleo-gum resin from the stems.

 

ACTIVE INGREDIENTS

Volatile oil containing heerabolene, canidene, and eugenol; resin consisting of commiphoric acids, commiphorinic acid, and heerabomyrrhols; gums consisting of aribinose, galactose, and xylose.

 

ACTIONS

Stimulant; expectorant; antiseptic; anti-inflammatory; promotes wound healing.

 

MEDICINAL USE

Most used in mouthwashes for mouth ulcers, inflamed gums, and sore throats. It is also given internally for lung infections associated with colds and catarrhal congestion, and applied externally to boils, wounds, and abrasions. Prescribed in Ayurvedic medicine to stimulate menstruation and as an alterative (to hasten the renewal of body tissues), and in Chinese medicine for wounds, painful or absent periods, and rheumatism.

 

PREPARATIONS

Tincture, tablets, tooth powder.

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