Myrrh (Commiphora molmol)
Energetic: warm, dry; stimulating, bitter
Therapeutic Actions: analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antiparasitic, antipyretic, antiseptic, astringent, carminative, expectorant, emmenagogue, hypoglycemic, stimulant, vulnerary
When you think of digestion, what is the first organ you think of?
Your stomach, right?
While your stomach is a very important digestion organ – where would it be without your lovely ole mouth? Oral health and digestive health are two peas in the proverbial pod. If your oral health is suffering, your digestion is soon to follow. Bad oral health (specifically gum disease) is linked to hosts of digestive complaints including inflammatory bowel disease, as well as increased stroke and heart disease risk, and even preterm birth and low birth weight babies. The evidence is crystal CLEAR: good oral health is imperative to good overall health.
So how do we address oral health herbal-ly?
Myrrh Medicinal Benefits
You certainly do not have to look too far to find a click-baity headline promoting the use of myrrh essential oil for oral health. So while I am not promoting the use of myrrh essential oil (it’s expensive, not to mention unnecessary), there are a few grains of truth to these articles. Myrrh has really outstanding action on oral health – and therefore digestive and total health. This aromatic resin is specifically indicated for gum health. Red, inflamed gums, bleeding gums, gums with deep “pockets”, and oral ulcerations may all respond well to this resin. It is heat and infection clearing, and can temporarily dull the pain of a toothache. It also promotes salivation – the mouth’s own way of preventing cavities, inflammation and infection.
Myrrh also assists the immune system by increasing white blood cell production and acting as a highly effective anti-microbial agent. Instances of wet, phlegmy, cold coughs benefit greatly from its warming, stimulating, and drying energetics. Consider use of this resin when dealing with a persistent, annoying cold with post nasal drip and associated nausea. High doses used for a short duration of time, are traditionally used for the expulsion of internal parasites. Topically, myrrh promotes wound healing with its antiseptic and antimicrobial properties.
In terms of women’s health, myrrh is a profound “blood mover”. Instances of pelvic stagnation, delayed menses (not due to pregnancy), and a sense of fullness and heaviness would call for its use. It is contraindicated during pregnancy.
No post on myrrh would be complete with mentioning cancer. There are some dangerously misleading articles circulating the internet touting it as the “cure” for cancer. Let me just clear the air here – myrrh supports overall health and it is highly anti-inflammatory, both factors in reducing cancer risk. Exploratory studies using myrrh in the treatment of cancer are somewhat promising, but further studies are needed (Chen et al, 2013). DO NOT SELF-TREAT CANCER WITH MYRRH. Please consult your PCP and/or oncologist before using this or any other herb/essential oil for addressing cancer concerns. DO NOT TRUST any websites promoting “cures” and “miracles” – you know the ones I am talking about. For that matter, do not implicitly trust any source, including mine – do your own research and make informed decisions.
Myrrh is the resinous exudates of the Commiphora trees, native to the Middle East and eastern Africa. Needless to say, most of my readers will not have the opportunity to forage it in its native environment. Granules and powders can be purchased from many sources; please seek sustainably minded companies from which to purchase myrrh products.
Myrrh Safety & Dosage
Myrrh is largely considered safe except in instances of allergy. It is contraindicated for internal use during pregnancy and, due to its hypoglycemic effects, should be avoided by those on diabetic therapies. Due to its blood moving and stimulating nature, it should not be used by those taking anti-coagulant medications. Please check for individual contraindications and drug interaction before using any preparations internally (or with topical essential oil use).
Standard dosage guideline for a 1:5 tincture is 1-4mls three times daily.
Myrrh Herbal Mouthwash
We all want fresh breath, pink, healthy gums and a fabulous smile, right? While holistic dentistry is still an emerging field, many of us feel that natural oral health care products are, well, lacking. A simple herbal tincture can easily transform a shot of water into an excellent all-natural mouthwash.
Myrrh is an obvious choice for this herbal mouthwash. As I find that most transitions from conventional to natural options do best when familiar flavors are used, I have included spearmint and clove in this formulation. These herbs also contribute to good oral health, boasting antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties themselves. The tincture is best prepared with powdered myrrh so the constituents freely disperse in the alcohol; I use 100 proof vodka with the powdered resin, but 190 proof “Everclear” spirits are more appropriate if granules are used. The finished tincture can be bottled and stored in dropper bottles and added to a shot of water for an herbal mouthwash. The undiluted tincture can be sparingly applied to a sore tooth or gum area for temporary pain relief.
Myrrh Herbal Mouthwash
Myrhh, spearmint and clove combine for a refreshing herbal mouthwash promoting good oral health. Prepare as a tincture and dilute 5-10 drops in a "shot" of water for daily use.
- 2 cups 100 proof spirits, like vodka see substitution note
- 1 tablespoon powdered myrrh see substitution note
- 1 tablespoon whole cloves
- 1/4 cup chopped spearmint leaves fresh
NOTE: If powdered myrrh is not available, use granules and substitute 190 proof spirits for 100 proof.
Combine all ingredients in a jar with a tight fighting lid. Infuse for 4-6 weeks, shaking daily.
After infusion, strain and transfer liquid to dropper bottles for storage.
To use: Add 5-10 drops to a shot of water. Swish for approximately 30 seconds around the mouth and spit out.
MedicineNet.com. The Link Between Oral Health and General Health
Bone, K., & Mills, S. (2013). Principles and practice of phytotherapy: modern herbal medicine. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier.
Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical herbalism the science and practice of herbal medicine. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.
Wood, M. (2016). Earthwise herbal repertory: traditional western herbalism. North Atlantic Books.