A small tree with knotted branches, small leaves and white flowers. The resin exudes from natural fissures in the the bark and dries on exposure to the air.

About 180 species of small, deciduous, mostly thorny shrubs and trees belong to this genus, occurring in E and W Africa, Arabia, India, S America, and the West Indies. This genus was not discovered in the New World until the 1980s. Commiphoras exude an oleo-gum resin known as myrrh tha varies slightly in composition from one species to another. It is obtained from several species, including C. foliacea, C. gileadensis (balm of Gilead, opalbalsamum), C. habessinica and C. wightii syn. C. mukul (guggul). The term "bdellium" can refer to these trees collectively, or to the resin. Myrrh has been a standard medicament in the Middle East since Biblical times for infected wounds, bronchial and digestive complaints, and is especially associated with women's health and purification rituals. Being a symbol of suffering, myrrh was one of the three gifts presented by the Magi to the infant Jesus as was used to embalm Christ's body after the crucifixion. According the to the Gospel of St. Mark, myrrh wine, vinum murratum, was offered by soldiers to Jesus before the crucifixion. Chinese medicinal texts first described myrrh c CE600, and it has a long history of use in Ayurvedic medicine as a rejuvenative. Scientific research has shown that myrrh contains compounds that have a powerful painkilling effect. Guggul (the resin from C. wightii) is of great importance in Ayurvedic medicine as a rejuvenative and remedy for diseases of old age, and for conditions associated with bone, joint or nerve pain. Combined with triphala (See, myrobalan) to make a restorative known as triphala guggula. Guggul has recently been found to contain unique saponins, known as guggulipid, that lower cholesterol and have anti-inflammatory effects in arthritis. It also contains phytosterols that have a hormonal effect. Populations of C. wightii are decreasing due to overcollection and destructive harvesting.

Guggul, a resin produced by the mukul mirth tree, is a traditional Indian remedy that has been used to treat skin diseases, urinary problems, joint pain, and other ailments. When further refined, it becomes guggulipid, which contains various substances that may lower cholesterol and help combat obesity.

So prized that the three wise men presented it to the infant Jesus as a gift, myrrh has been known since ancient times as the herbalist's cleanser. Traditionally it has been used to treat upper respiratory conditions, leg ulcers, and stomatitis and as a prime ingredient in gargles and mouthwashes for the treatment of mouth sores, infected gums, sore throats, coughs, and thrush.

Deciduous, areomatic, spiny shrub with trifoliate leaves that have obovate leaflets, the terminal leaflet 1cm (3/8in) long. Yellow-red, 4-petaled flower, with a persistant calyx, appear after the rains, often before the new leaves, followed by pointed, ellipsoid fruits to 7mm (¼in) long.

Common Name:
Other Names:
African Myrrh, Arabian Myrrh, Bal, Bol, Bola, Didin, Guggal, Guggul, Guggal Gum, Guggal Resin, Gum Guggal, Mukul, Myrrh Tree
Botanical Name:
Commiphora myrrha syn. C. molmol, Comniphora mukluk.
Native Location:
Africa, Arabia, N Somalia, Yemen
Well-drained soil in sun
By seed sown in spring; by hardwood cuttings at the end of the growing season.
Resin is collected from cut branches and dried to a solid, which is distilled for oil, ground for powder, tablets or capsules, or dissolved in tinctures.
Steam Distillation
5m (16ft)
1.5m (5ft)
Min. 10-15°C (50-60°F)
Parts Used:
Gum Resin (mo yao), oil, extract of gum resin.
Color and Odor:
The essential oil is deep golden-yellow, turning deep amber with age. It has a musty, balsamic, smoky aroma.
Myrrh is famous, together with frankincense and gold, as the gifts brought by the three Magi from the East to Jesus when he was born. It is mentioned several times in the Bible. Myrrh was an important ingredient in the famous perfume "megaleion" of ancient Greece.
Antiseptic, cooling, tonic, stimulant, expectorant, vulnerary, emmenagogic, anti-inflammatory, sedative, astringent.
A pungent, astringent, aromatic herb that is strongly stimulant, antiseptic, and expectorant. It relieves spasms, inflammation, and digestive discomfort; encourages healing.
Medicinal Uses:
Internally for dyspepsia, bronchial and ear infections, mononucleosis, tonsilitis, pharyngitis, gingivitis, and menstrual and circulatory problems. Not given during pregnancy. Externally for mouth ulcers, wounds, boils, and pressure sores. Added to oral hygiene preparations. Combined with Hamamelis virginia (See, witch hazel) for bruises; with Cephaelis ipecacuahna (See ipecac) for mouth ulcers and gum infections; and with Echinacea spp. (See, echinacea) and Baptisia tinctoria (See, wild indigo) for various throat infections. Oil is diluted in carrier oil for massage; not to be taken internally.
To treat arthritis, skin disease, and artherosclerosis; to lower cholesterol; to aid in weight loss.
To treat cough, intestinal infections, lack of menstruation, stomach ailments, and inflammation of the mucosa of the mouth and throat. Germany's Commission E as approved the use of myrrh to treat inflammation of the mouth and throat.
  • Respiratory System—A very good expectorant, of value in coughs, bronchitis, colds and flu, especially when there is an excess of thick mucus. An excellent remedy for throat and mouth inflammations and ulcers.
  • Skin—Cooling on the skin, myrrh is good for mature skin, helping to preserve a youthful complexion. Very useful in hot, dry climate. Promotes healing in wounds and reduces inflammation. Good for cracked and chapped skin.
  • Emotions—The mysterious and seductive qualities of myrrh awaken an awareness of the spiritual reality behind everyday existence. The resultant expanded awareness calms fears and uncertainties about the future. Amplifies strength and courage. Useful for treating states of agitation, restlessness and emotional over-reaction. Cools heated emotions.
Myrrh 6 Myrrh 5 Myrrh 5
Eucalyptus 4 Frankincense 3 Rose 4
Thyme 2 Lavender 2 Lemon 3
Typical Dose:
A typical dose of guggul may range from 1,000 to 2,000 mg of guggul extract (guggulipid) providing 75 to 150 mg of guggulsterones.
A typical dose of myrrh may range from 1 to 4 ml of tincture applied to the affected area two to three times daily, or in mouthwash for, 5 to 10 drops in a glass of water.
Possible Side Effects:
Guggul's side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, belching, hiccups, and changes in heartrate.
Drug Interactions:
Taking guggul with these drugs may reduce or prevent drug absorption and effects:
Diltiazem, (Cardizem, Tiazac)
Propranolol, (Inderal, InnoPran XL)
Taking guggul with these drugs may be harmful:
Fondaparinux, (Arixtra)—May increase the risk of bleeding or bruising.
Levothyroxine, (Levothroid, Synthroid)—May alter drug effects.
Taking myrrh with these drugs may increase the risk of hypoglycemia:
Acarbose, (Prandase, Precose)
Acetohexamide, (Acetohexamide)
Chlorpropamide, (Diabinese, Novo-Propamide)
Gliclazide, (Diamicron, Novo-Gliclazide)
Glimepiride, (Amaryl)
Glipizide, (Glucotrol)
Glipizide and Metformin, (Metaglip)
Gliquidone, (Beglynor, Glurenorm)
Glyburide, (DiaBeta, Micronase)
Glyburide and Metformin, (Glucovance)
Insulin, (Humulin, Novolin R)
Metformin, (Glucophage, Riomet)
Miglitol, (Glyset)
Nateglinide, (Starlix)
Pioglitazone, (Actos)
Repaglinide, (GlucoNorm, Prandin)
Rosiglitazone, (Avandia)
Rosiglitazone and Metformin, (Avandamet)
Tolazamide, (Tolinase)
Tolbutamide, (Apo-Tolbutamide, Tol-Tab)
Lab Test Alterations:
  • Decreased total cholesterol and LDL "bad" cholesterol levels.
  • Decreased trigylceride levels.
  • Decreased thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels.
  • Increased triiodothyronine (T3) levels.
  • May decrease blood glucose levels.
Disease Effects:
  • May interfere with diabetes therapy by lowering blood sugar.
  • May worsen fever, inflammation, and uterine bleeding.
Supplement Interactions:
Increased risk of bleeding when used with herbs and supplements that might affect platelet aggregations.
Aromatherapy Blends and recipes by Franzesca Watson Copyright © 1995 Thorsons, Harper Parker Publishing Inc. Pp 134-135
The Encyclopedia of Herbs by Deni Brown Copyright ©1995, 2001 Dorling Kindersley Limited. pg 177
The Essential Herb-Drug-Vitamin Interaction Guide by Geo. T. Grossberg,MD and Barry Fox,PhD Copyright©2007 Barry Fox,PhD. Pp.264-265, 343-344.