The Full Wiki

Myrrh: Map

  
  
  

Wikipedia article:

Map showing all locations mentioned on Wikipedia article:





Myrrh is a reddish-brown resinous material, the dried sap of a number of trees, but primarily from Commiphora myrrha, which is native to Yemenmarker, Somaliamarker, the eastern parts of Ethiopiamarker, and Commiphora gileadensis, which is native to Jordanmarker. The sap of a number of other Commiphora and Balsamodendron species is also known as myrrh, including that from Commiphora erythraea (sometimes called East Indian myrrh), Commiphora opobalsamum and Balsamodendron kua. Its name entered English via the Ancient Greek, μύρρα, which is probably of Somali or Arabic origin, where it is known as (مر: Murr).

The name "myrrh" is also applied to the potherb Myrrhis odorata otherwise known as "Cicely" or "Sweet Cicely".

High quality myrrh can be identified through the darkness and clarity of the resin. However, the best method of judging the resin's quality is by feeling the stickiness of freshly broken fragments directly to determine the fragrant-oil content of the myrrh resin. The scent of raw myrrh resin and its essential oil is sharp, pleasant, somewhat bitter and can be roughly described as being "stereotypically resinous". When burned, it produces a smoke that is heavy, bitter and somewhat phenolic in scent, which may be tinged with a slight vanillic 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, and as an additive to wine, a practice alluded to by ancient authorities such as Fabius Dorsennus. 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 a penitential incense in funerals and cremations. The "holy oil" traditionally used by the Eastern Orthodox Church for performing the sacraments of chrismation and unction is traditionally scented with myrrh, and receiving either of these sacraments is commonly referred to as "receiving the Myrrh".

History



The Ancient Egyptians imported large amounts of myrrh as far back as 3000 B.C. They used it to embalm the dead, as an antiseptic, and burned it for religious sacrifice.

In ancient history myrrh was used as a constituent of perfumes and incense, was highly valued in ancient times, and was often worth more than its weight in gold. The Greek word for myrrh, μύρον, came to be synonymous with the word for "perfume". Today Myrrh is used for its antimicrobial properties.

In Ancient Rome myrrh was priced at five times as much as frankincense, though the latter was far more popular. Myrrh was burned in ancient Roman funerals to mask the smell emanating from charring corpses. It was said that the Roman Emperor Nero burned a year's worth of myrrh at the funeral of his wife, Poppaea. Pliny the Elder refers to myrrh as being one of the ingredients of perfumes, and specifically the "Royal Perfume" of the Parthians. He also says myrrh was used to fumigate wine jars before bottling. Archeologists have found at least two ostraca from Malkata (from New Kingdom Egypt, ca. 1390 to 1350 B.C.) that were lined with a shiny black or dark brown deposit that analysis showed to be chemically closest to myrrh. The Romans were known to use myrrh as a premier additive to wine.

Religious context

In the Old Testament of the Bible (and the Torah), myrrh is mentioned as a primary ingredient in the holy anointing oil God commanded Moses to make:

Psalm 45 mentions myrrh as a kingly fragrance in a passage interpreted by some as referring to the future Messiah:

In the New Testament, myrrh was one of the gifts of the Magi to the infant Jesus according to Matthew, is cited in Mark as an intoxicant that was offered to Jesus during the crucifixion, and in John was one of the spices used to prepare Jesus' body for burial:

Because of its scriptural roles as an anointing oil, myrrh is used in the preparation of chrism which is used by many churches, both Eastern and Western, and is a common ingredient in incense offered during Christian liturgical celebrations (see Thurible). In Roman Catholic liturgical tradition, pellets of myrrh are traditionally placed in the Paschal candle during the Easter Vigil.

The use of incense in Eastern Christianity is much more frequent than in Western versions. In some traditions, special emphasis is placed on the offering of incense at Vespers and Matins, because of the Old Testament regulation regarding the evening and morning offering of incense.

Mythology

In Ancient Greece and Rome, a popular myth told the story of Myrrha, a young woman who was afflicted by the gods with an incestuous love of her father. Her old nurse helped her seduce him in darkness, and she fell pregnant. However, when her father learnt of her deception he was appalled and banished her. Taking pity on her, a god transformed her into a tree; hearing a child cry within the tree, some passersby delivered her baby Adonis, who was later the consort of Venus. The sap from which myrrh is derived is said to be the tears of the transformed Myrrha. This story of myrrh's origin is preserved in Ovid's Metamorphoses.

Traditional medicine



In Chinese medicine, myrrh is classified as bitter, spicy, neutral in temperature and affecting the heart, liver, and spleen meridians. Its uses are similar to those of frankincense, with which it is often combined in decoctions, liniments, and incense. When used in concert, myrrh is "blood-moving" while frankincense moves the Qi, making it more useful for arthritic conditions. 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. It is combined with such herbs as notoginseng, safflower stamens, Angelica sinensis, cinnamon, and Salvia miltiorrhiza, usually in alcohol, and used both internally and externally.

Myrrh is used more frequently in Ayurveda, Unani medicine, and Western herbalism, which ascribe to it tonic and rejuvenative properties. A related species, known as guggul in Ayurvedic medicine is considered one of the best substances for the treatment of circulatory problems, nervous system disorders and rheumatic complaints. Myrrh (Daindhava) is used in many rasayana formulas in Ayurveda.

However rasayana herbs have special processing. Outside of this form myrrh is said to be contraindicated for pregnant women or women with excessive uterine bleeding, and not be used with evidence of kidney dysfunction or stomach pain.

As of 2008, 35% of Saudi Arabians use myrrh as medicine.

Modern usage

In pharmacy, myrrh is used as an antiseptic and is most often used in mouthwashes, gargles, and toothpastes for prevention and treatment of gum disease. Myrrh is currently used in some liniments and healing salves that may be applied to abrasions and other minor skin ailments. It is also used in the production of Fernet.

Research

  • In an attempt to determine the cause of its effectiveness, researchers examined the individual ingredients of an herbal formula used traditionally by Kuwaiti diabetics to lower blood glucose. Myrrh and aloe gums effectively improved glucose tolerance in both normal and diabetic rats.


  • Myrrh was shown to produce analgesic effects on mice which were subjected to pain. Researchers at the University of Florence (Italy) showed that furanoeudesma-1,3-diene and another terpene in the myrrh affect opioid receptors in the mouse's brain which influence pain perception.


See also



Further reading

  • (US ISBN 0-520-22789-1), pp. 107–122.
  • , pp. 226–227, with additions
  • Abyssine Myrrh
  • The One Earth Herbal Sourcebook: Everything You Need to Know About Chinese, Western, and Ayurvedic Herbal Treatments by Ph.D., A.H.G., D.Ay, Alan Keith Tillotson, O.M.D., L.Ac., Nai-shing Hu Tillotson, and M.D., Robert Abel Jr.


References

External links




Embed code:






Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address
Message