The Health Benefits of Myrrh Essential Oil

Ancient oil is prized for its healing and beautifying properties

Myrrh Oil
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Myrrh has been used since ancient times as perfume and incense for medicinal and sacred purposes. Myrrh essential oil is a staple in aromatherapy and is believed to ease coughs and colds, soothe digestive discomfort, and boost immunity.

Sourced from the gum of the Commiphora myrrha tree (a plant native to the Arabian peninsula and Africa), myrrh essential oil contains several compounds that may help enhance health, including terpenoids, a class of chemicals with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects).

How It Works

In aromatherapy, inhaling the aroma of myrrh essential oil is thought to transmit messages to the limbic system, a brain region involved in controlling emotions that also influences the nervous system.

Aromatherapy proponents suggest that essential oils may affect a number of biological factors, including heart rate, stress levels, blood pressure, breathing, and immune function.

Uses

When used in aromatherapy, myrrh is said to help treat or prevent the following health problems:

  • colds
  • cough
  • insomnia
  • sore throat

In addition, myrrh essential oil is said to reduce inflammation, stimulate the immune system, alleviate pain, and promote wound healing.

Sometimes used as an ingredient in skincare products, myrrh essential oil is also purported to reduce the appearance of wrinkles.

Health Benefits

Although several preliminary studies indicate that myrrh essential oil may offer certain health benefits, there is currently a lack of research testing the health effects of aromatherapeutic use of myrrh essential oil.

Studies show myrrh essential oil may have antimicrobial properties. A laboratory study published in Letters in Applied Microbiology in 2012 found that a combination of myrrh essential oil and frankincense essential oil may help fight infection by acting as an antimicrobial—a substance that destroys or suppresses the growth of microorganisms, including bacteria and fungi.

Gum Disease

Two studies published in Toxicology in Vitro in 2003 and 2006 suggest that myrrh essential oil may protect against gum disease. In tests on cells, researchers determined that myrrh essential oil may help reduce inflammation in gum cells.

It's important to note that none of the above studies tested the aromatherapeutic use of myrrh essential oil and that more research is needed before myrrh essential oil can be recommended in the treatment of any health condition.

Possible Side Effects

Myrrh essential oil should not be taken internally without the supervision of a health professional. Internal use of myrrh essential oil may have toxic effects.

In addition, some individuals may experience irritation or an allergic reaction when applying myrrh essential oil to the skin. A skin patch test should be done before using any new essential oil. 

The oil should not be applied at full-strength to the skin or used in excessive amounts.

Pregnant women and children should consult their primary health care providers prior to using essential oils. Learn more about how to use myrrh essential oil safely.

Dosage and Preparation 

There is no standard or recommended dose for myrrh essential oil.

When combined with a carrier oil (such as jojoba, sweet almond, or avocado), myrrh essential oil can be applied directly to the skin or added to baths.

Myrrh essential oil also can be inhaled after sprinkling a few drops of the oil onto a cloth or tissue, or by using an aromatherapy diffuser or vaporizer.

What to Look For 

Essential oils are not regulated by the FDA and do not have to meet any purity standards. When purchasing essential oils, look for a supplier who either distills their own material or deals directly with reputable distillers and uses gas chromatography and mass spectrometry (GC/MS) to analyze the quality of the product.

Why buying pure myrrh essential oil, check the label of its Latin name, Commiphora myrrha. No other oils ingredients should be listed. If you see another oil, such as fractionated coconut oil, jojoba oil, or sweet almond oil, the myrrh is diluted and should not be used in a diffuser.

Myrrh oil should be packaged in a dark amber or cobalt bottle and stored out of sunlight. Once opened, myrrh essential oil may crystalize. Be sure to wipe the bottle opening clean before replacing the cap.

Other Questions 

What does myrrh essential oil smell like?

Myrrh essential oil has been described as having a clean, earthy smell with a hint of licorice.

Will using myrrh essential oil on my face reduce fine lines and wrinkles?

Myrrh has antioxidant properties that may fight cell aging, and some beauty companies tout the benefits of myrrh in their anti-aging products. While many people swear by the youthful benefits of using myrrh topically, there is no scientific evidence to back this up. If you choose to use myrrh as skin care, dilute it in a carrier oil, such as jojoba, and do not put it close to your eyes as its vapors may sting.

A Word From Verywell

Given the lack of science behind myrrh essential oil's purported health benefits, it cannot currently be recommended as a standard treatment for any condition. If you're interested in using myrrh oil for health purposes, make sure to consult your physician before beginning treatment. Self-treating and avoiding or delaying standard care can have serious consequences.

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