Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha)

Myrrh is a reddish-brown resinous material, the dried sap of the tree, native to Yemen, Somalia and the eastern parts of Ethiopia. When burned, it produces a smoke that is heavy, bitter and somewhat musky in scent, which may be tinged with a slight vanilla sweetness. Unlike most other resins, myrrh expands and "blooms" when burned instead of melting or liquefying. The scent can also be used in mixtures of incense, to provide an earthy element to the overall smell. It is also used in various perfumes, toothpastes, lotions, and other modern toiletries. Myrrh was used as an embalming ointment and was used, up until about the 15th century, as an incense in funerals and cremations. The "holy oil" traditionally used by the Eastern Orthodox Church for performing the sacraments is traditionally scented with myrrh, and receiving either of these sacraments is commonly referred to as "receiving the Myrrh". In Chinese medicine, Myrrh is classified as bitter, spicy, neutral in temperature and affecting the heart, liver, and spleen meridians. Myrrh also has been used in the treatment of amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, menopause and uterine tumors, as its "blood-moving" properties can purge stagnant blood out of the uterus. Myrrh has also been recommended to help toothache pain, and can be used in liniment for bruises, aches and sprains. Myrrh is most commonly used in Chinese medicine for rheumatic, arthritic and circulatory problems. Myrrh is used more frequently in Ayurvedic medicine and Western herbalism, which ascribe to it tonic and rejuvenative properties. Myrrh is used as an antiseptic and is most often used in mouthwashes, gargles and toothpastes for prevention and treatment of gum disease. Myrrh was in ancient times worth its weight in gold, it was an extremely precious commodity. The ancient Egyptians used it for embalming the dead. It is extremely purifying and cleansing to the enviroment and is known to have anti-bacteria properties. Famously it is also known to be one of the sacred gifts brought to the baby Christ by the Magi.