Myrrh: The resin obtained from the stems is used in medicinal preparations for gingivitis (periodontal disease) (as mouthwash, in combination with sage, peppermint oil, menthol, chamomile tincture, expressed juice from echinacea, clove oil, and caraway oil), canker sores, cold sores, common cold/sore throat, halitosis (rinse), infection, abnormal pap smear, and ulcerative colitis.
Botanical name: Commiphora molmol. Myrrh grows as a shrub in desert regions, particularly in northeastern Africa and the Middle East.
In ancient times, the red-brown resin of myrrh was used to preserve mummies. It was also used as a remedy for numerous infections, including leprosy and syphilis. Myrrh was also recommended by herbalists for relief from bad breath and for dental conditions. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it has been used to treat bleeding disorders and wounds.
The three main constituents of myrrh are the resin, the gum, and the volatile oil. All are thought to be important in myrrh’s activity as an herbal medicine. The resin has reportedly been shown to kill various microbes and to stimulate macrophages (a type of white blood cell) in test tube studies. Myrrh also has astringent properties and has a soothing effect on inflamed tissues in the mouth and throat. Studies continue on the potential anticancer and pain-relieving actions of myrrh resin. Human clinical trials are lacking to confirm most uses of myrrh.
The German Commission E monograph recommends that persons either dab the undiluted tincture in the mouth or gargle with 5–10 drops of tincture in a glass of water three times daily.5 In addition, tincture of myrrh, 1–2 ml three times per day, can be taken. The tincture can also be applied topically for canker sores. Due to the gummy nature of the product, a tea cannot be made from myrrh. Capsules, containing up to 1 gram of resin taken three times per day, can be used as well.
No adverse effects from myrrh usage have been reported. At the time of writing, there were no well-known drug interactions with myrrh.