Myrrh gum powder has been in use for several centuries and seems to be best suited for problems surrounding the head (mouth, sinuses, hair, ears, throat) and the respiratory system. There have been several scientific studies which show it to be a strong antifungal, particularly against aspergillus and penicillin, as well as a bacteriostatic against staph aureus.
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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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.