Myrrh Essential Oil: Uses, Benefits, and Blends
High in terpenes, you will find myrrh essential oil as a key component in both Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). One of the world’s oldest commodities, myrrh has a strong, fragrant aroma that explains why it is such a popular addition to candles, incense, and soaps. Try blending myrrh oil with frankincense, for a synergistic result!
Coming from the resin of the Commiphora Myrrha tree, myrrh oil has been around for centuries. The tree is native to Somalia, Oman, Eritrea, and Yemen. The word “myrrh” comes from a Semitic root word, meaning “bitter”. In Ancient Greek, the use of the word “múron” became synonymous with the meaning of “perfume”. At that time, myrrh essential oil was a common ingredient in the oils women wore to scent themselves.
When the Commiphora Myrrha tree sustains a wound that penetrates into the sapwood, the tree bleeds a resin. This resin is what we refer to as myrrh gum. It starts off as either clear or an opaque yellow, then darkens with age to a golden brown. Historically, myrrh has had many uses. It has been used as an analgesic, an antiseptic, a digestive, and even to treat asthma, cancer, and arthritis. Today, it sees frequent use in both Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, mainly for circulatory purposes.
Component Breakdown of Myrrh Essential Oil
- Furanoeudesma-1,3-diene: Contributes to the aroma of myrrh, in addition to providing its analgesic effect.
- Furanodiene: Research indicates furanodiene suppresses the growth of breast cancer cells. It is a sesquiterpenoid, which is a natural compound found in plants.
- Lindestrene: Another component that contributes to the fragrance of myrrh, as well as having analgesic properties.
- B-Elemene: Also found in curcumin, b-elemene is thought to be effective as an anti-inflammatory, as well as providing a potential antitumor effect.
- Germacrene-B: Germacrene-B is an organic component known as a sesquiterpenoid. The principal aim of sesquiterpenes is to offer protection to the plant. Studies indicate sesquiterpenes may be anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial agents, and can possibly even be influential in certain cancer treatments.
- Delta-Elemene: Delta-elemene is another sesquiterpenoid, produced naturally by the plant.
- 2-Methoxyfuranodiene: 2-methoxyfuranodiene is also known as a furano-sesquiterpenoid. Studies indicate it has anti-cancer properties—similar to furanodiene—though more research is necessary.
Wholesale Use of Myrrh Essential Oil
In 2019 the global essential oil market rang in at around USD $7 billion. Research suggests this number will double by 2026, forecasting a market share of USD $14.1 billion. This astronomical increase is due to increasing customer demand, as consumers begin to move towards more natural products and cosmetics. In this next section, we’ll take a closer look at myrrh essential oil uses and a few of the other benefits this ancient oil has to offer.
The practice of aromatherapy is beginning to become increasingly popular in Western countries. This is due to many studies indicating aromatherapy can be beneficial to health and mental well-being. In Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, myrrh’s main use is to treat chronic disease. As we now know, myrrh oil is made up of mostly terpenes. Research indicates terpenes contain both anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties. Interestingly enough, when myrrh and frankincense essential oil are combined their chemical composition changes. With this change comes a synergetic increase in the pharmacological effects of each oil. In laymen’s terms, this means they become more powerful together. While more research is necessary, these studies are indications that myrrh and frankincense may have key roles in the future of pharmaceutical drugs.
The most common methods of aromatherapy are inhalation and topical use. Inhaling essential oils works to stimulate first the olfactory system, and then the limbic system. The stimulation of the limbic system can affect emotions, the circulatory system, the respiratory system, memory, and even hormones.
How to apply myrrh essential oil:
If you choose to apply myrrh oil topically, you must dilute it with a carrier oil first. It is only necessary to use a few drops of oil for every ounce of carrier oil. This means a little bit of oil can go a long way! You can add myrrh oil to massage oils, bath salts, shampoos, conditioners, body washes, and any other product you desire. Simply do a test patch first, 24-hours prior to use, to ensure there are no signs of irritation.
Candles & Incense
One of the most common types of wax used in commercial candles is paraffin. Paraffin is a petroleum by-product, and it gives off known carcinogens such as benzene and acetone while burning. In addition to paraffin, you will often find candles that contain other, potentially harmful, ingredients. These are usually additives that are put in to provide fragrance and coloring. Because of this, the use of essential oils to fragrance candles is becoming more popular. Essential oils—such as myrrh oil—offer a safe alternative to these synthetic additives.
Myrrh oil is also very commonly used in incense, particularly the incense used in services and religious ceremonies. Similar to candles, incense can give off harmful toxins while burning. Many incense users are beginning to become aware of the risks associated with use. This means the addition of essential oils for fragrance is becoming more popular, as businesses change tactics to meet customer demand.
Skin infections are one of the most common reasons for people to seek medical attention. Due to the misuse of antibiotics, many topical treatments are no longer as effective as they once were. The World Health Organization is issuing warnings that in the future common infections may no longer have a cure. This means many of these common ailments could potentially become more serious, possibly even fatal. In some countries—such as India and Africa—there are many who don’t have access to antibiotics. This opens the door for the return of more traditional methods, including the use of essential oils to treat skin infections.
Myrrh essential oil, in particular, shows promising results in terms of wound-healing. Researchers believe this is due to its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. These same properties also make myrrh oil a great choice when choosing an oil to add to soaps and skincare products.
What Blends Well with Myrrh Essential Oil?
The best partner for myrrh essential oil is frankincense essential oil. This is because of the change in chemical composition that occurs when you use the two of them together, leading to the magnification of the health and wellness benefits of each. In addition to frankincense oil, there are many other great essential oil combinations to try. The scent of myrrh oil is warm and smoky, blending well with both woodsy and citrus aromas. Try combining myrrh with cedarwood, lemon, lavender, bergamot, or eucalyptus.
Is Myrrh Essential Oil Safe for Pets?
No. Essential oils can cause serious harm to pets. Cats, in particular, are very susceptible to the phenols which are in many oils. Their liver cannot break down these compounds. This means the ingestion of myrrh oil can lead to liver damage, liver failure, seizures, or even death. Even using an active diffuser can be dangerous, as particles can land on your cat’s coat, where they frequently lick when grooming.
Animals also have much stronger sniffers than humans do, which means the scents in the air are much stronger to them than they are to us. If you wish to use myrrh oil in a passive diffuser around your pet, it's best to do this with caution. Leave a door open and keep on the lookout for any signs of discomfort such as drooling, eye-watering, or sneezing. Make sure the oils are well out of reach, so no ingestion or direct contact can occur.
All essential oils, including myrrh oil, are very strong. It is important to always ensure you are diluting essential oils with a carrier oil prior to applying them to your skin. Do not ingest oils, and always confer with a medical professional if you are taking other medications that could potentially interact with them.
For over five thousand years, people have been using myrrh oil for various uses and purposes. Myrrh essential oil benefits may be magnified when used in combination with frankincense essential oil. Whether you wish to add myrrh oil to soaps, candles, or products—or simply use it for aromatherapy—there are many potential benefits to its use.