Myrrh, a resin from the Commiphora myrrha tree, has been highly revered since ancient times. People have sought the gum resin's sweet, smoky aroma as incense for spiritual events, perfume, and embalming. In traditional medicine, it is used to clean wounds, ease pain, strengthen the heart, calm the mind, and treat cancers. Over the years, extensive research into myrrh has stacked much evidence in favor of its curative potential.

Fights Microbes

People have been applying myrrh oil to prevent infections and treat wounds since antiquity. The resin can alleviate minor fungal conditions, including ringworm, halitosis, acne, and athlete’s foot. It shows a remarkable capability to fight staph infections as well. In one study, medication made with myrrh helped reduce symptoms of fascioliasis, a parasitic worm infection.

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Protects Against Ulcers

Ulcer development is associated with increased inflammation and compromised antioxidant capacity. Myrrh has long been used to treat inflammatory diseases by promoting gastric mucus production. A study in Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine suggests that myrrh has strong therapeutic potential comparable to mesalazine, a widely used medication for mild to severe ulcerative colitis.

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Strengthens the Heart

Myrrh is one of traditional medicine’s most common herbs for promoting vascular health, and a lot of research highlights its cardioprotective abilities. In one study, myrrh significantly enhanced the production of myocardial antioxidants, reversing oxidative changes on the heart muscle. It also inhibited the leakage of antioxidants from the heart. Further examination showed a reduction of inflammation, edema, and necrosis following treatment with myrrh.

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Combats Cancer

Some scientists believe that myrrh components can help inhibit the growth of tumors. Guggulsterones, the major active phytosterols in the resin, appear to induce cell death in many cancers by suppressing the anti-apoptotic genes that prevent the process. These constituents may also enhance the therapeutic effects of some chemotherapy medications. Substantial research discusses myrrh’s potential for preventing cancers of the breast, pancreas, colon, esophagus, blood, prostate, ovaries, liver, and more.

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Soothes Skin

Pruritus, or itching, is a major and frustrating complication of atopic dermatitis. The skin condition often arises from the release of histamine in response to inflammation or stimulation by allergens. Myrrh may help treat itching that does not respond to histamine receptor blockers alone. In clinical trials, it prevents the release of histamine in human mast cells.

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Alleviates Arthritis

People with rheumatoid arthritis often turn to homeopathic remedies such as topical use of essential oils to help manage symptoms. Vast empirical evidence suggests that myrrh can help protect against the debilitating condition. Researchers discovered that treatment with myrrh extract might suppress pro-inflammatory proteins and reduce the thickness of joint swelling.

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Improves Cognitive Function

Stress, aging, and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s are largely responsible for memory impairment. Compounds extracted from myrrh show protective effects against neuronal cell death. These substances help increase the flow of blood and oxygen, promoting the expulsion of byproducts that induce inflammation in brain cells. In animal studies, treatment with myrrh improved memory deficits.

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Helps Manage Diabetes

Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic syndrome characterized by inadequate insulin secretion, resistance to the action of insulin, or both. Treatment with myrrh can decrease risk factors such as hyperglycemia and disruptions in lipid and protein metabolism. One study found that myrrh extract significantly increased insulin secretion, decreased blood glucose levels, and regulated the breakdown of lipids and proteins.

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Enhances Oral Health

Gingivitis is a common inflammatory disease of the gums induced by plaque buildup. Dental literature reports myrrh’s antimicrobial capability against harmful oral bacteria. A preliminary study reported that mouthwash with a 1% concentration of myrrh helped reduce plaque buildup and inflammation more effectively than mouthwash with frequently prescribed chlorhexidine gluconate.

sad girl mouth pain gingivitis Andrii Bicher / Getty Images


May Boost Mental Health

Depression is an epidemic, and conventional medicines come with limited efficacy and uncomfortable side effects. Myrrh is often combined with other oils to help lift the mood and relieve stress. The herb has demonstrated potent antidepressant-like activity similar to fluoxetine. Research suggests that a compound in myrrh might be able to reverse stress-induced impairments of the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex.

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