Can You Eat Raw Myrrh? (Explained)

Myrrh, a resin treasured for millennia across cultures, has long sparked human curiosity.

But the pressing question many ask today is: Can you eat raw myrrh?

The answer, based on current research, is nuanced.

While certain ancient practices and modern alternative medicine proponents advocate for its consumption due to potential health benefits, there are also concerns regarding possible side effects, digestion issues, and interactions with medications.

In this piece, we’ll take a journey to explore myrrh’s history, benefits, and the evidence behind its consumption.

red-myrrh

What is the History of Myrrh?

Myrrh originates from the Commiphora tree, typically found in the arid landscapes of northeastern Africa and the adjacent areas of the Arabian Peninsula. With its spiky branches and droplets of gum oozing from its bark, this tree has gifted the world with a treasure that transcends time.

Myrrh in Egypt

For ancient Egyptians, myrrh held a special place both in life and death.

  • Embalming: When it came to mummification, the importance of preserving the body for the afterlife was paramount. Myrrh’s natural preservative properties made it a vital ingredient in the embalming process. The famous pharaoh Tutankhamun, for instance, was discovered with vessels believed to contain myrrh alongside his burial chamber, a testament to its significance in the royal embalming ritual.
  • Religious Ceremonies: Beyond mummification, myrrh was also burned as incense in temples dedicated to Egyptian deities. The Temple of Edfu, dedicated to the god Horus, has inscriptions that document the sacred rituals involving myrrh. Its aromatic smoke was believed to act as a bridge, connecting the mortal realm with the divine.

Myrrh in Greece

In ancient Greece, myrrh carried symbolic weight, often tied to deep emotions and significant life events.

  • Symbol of Sorrow: Due to its bitter taste, Greeks metaphorically related myrrh to the bitterness of sorrow. For example, in the famous Greek epic, the Iliad, myrrh is mentioned as a part of the mourning rituals for the fallen warrior Patroclus.
  • Funeral Rites: Greeks used myrrh in their funeral rites, anointing the bodies of the deceased with myrrh-infused oils. This practice not only showcased reverence for the dead but also symbolized the community’s collective grief.

Myrrh in Ancient Chinese

In the vast realm of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), myrrh, known as ‘Mo Yao’, has been celebrated for its purported healing properties.

  • Joint and Muscle Health: Myrrh was often combined with frankincense to create herbal formulations aimed at addressing joint and muscle pain. An example can be seen in the classic TCM text, ‘Bencao Gangmu’ or ‘Compendium of Materia Medica’, where myrrh was described as a remedy for promoting blood circulation and alleviating pain.
  • Healing Salves: Ancient Chinese apothecaries used myrrh as a primary ingredient in salves and ointments designed to treat wounds and prevent infections. These remedies, grounded in centuries of practice, have been passed down through generations.

What are The Benefits of Myrrh

Myrrh is not just an artifact from the past; it still retains a valued place in contemporary practices. Here are some of the known benefits of myrrh:

Medicinal

  • Anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Potential pain relief for specific ailments.
  • Boosts immune system function.

Spiritual

  • Used in meditation for grounding.
  • Acts as a purifier when burned as incense.
  • Enhances spiritual connectivity and introspection.

Aesthetic

  • Incorporated in perfumes for its unique aroma.
  • Used in skincare for its rejuvenating qualities.

For a deeper dive into its various uses, consider exploring Myrrh: A Comprehensive Guide and Uses.

What Research Says About Raw Myrrh

The medical and scientific communities have delved into the study of myrrh, seeking to understand its benefits and possible dangers. While ancient cultures have vouched for myrrh’s therapeutic properties, it’s crucial to view these claims through the lens of modern research.

  1. Anti-Inflammatory Properties: Some studies have identified certain compounds in myrrh, such as sesquiterpenes and terpenoids, that may have anti-inflammatory effects. This could explain its use in traditional medicines for pain relief and inflammatory conditions.
  2. Antibacterial and Antifungal Qualities: Research has also shown that myrrh possesses antibacterial and antifungal properties. Its potential ability to fight harmful bacteria and fungi makes it a subject of interest, especially in the face of antibiotic-resistant strains.
  3. Digestive System Impacts: While myrrh is used in some traditional medicines to aid digestion, scientific research on its direct impact on the human digestive system when consumed raw is limited. Some studies suggest it may help combat certain types of ulcers, but consuming large quantities could cause digestive distress.
  4. Toxicological Concerns: Just like any substance, consuming large amounts of myrrh could lead to toxicity. Some animal studies have indicated potential kidney and liver damage when consumed in high doses. However, these results can’t be directly translated to humans, and more research is required.
  5. Interactions with Medications: There’s also interest in how myrrh interacts with specific drugs. Some preliminary studies suggest it might enhance the effects of certain anticoagulant medications, leading to a risk of excessive bleeding.

Eating Raw Myrrh: The Good, The Bad, The Surprising

Pros:

  • Potential Health Benefits: Myrrh has been considered for its possible health advantages, primarily due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Some research suggests it could help with issues such as indigestion, ulcerative colitis, and maintaining overall digestive health.
  • Natural and Organic: In a world cluttered with synthetic substances, myrrh stands out as a natural, organic option for those seeking alternative health solutions. Its long history and cultural significance add to its appeal.

Cons:

  • Possible Side Effects: Although myrrh has its advantages, it’s not without risks. Some individuals may experience skin rashes, diarrhea, or kidney irritation when consuming raw myrrh. It’s crucial to consult a healthcare professional before incorporating myrrh into your diet.
  • Digestion and Absorption Concerns: The human digestive system may not be well-equipped to process raw resins like myrrh, which could lead to complications. While some traditional cultures have consumed it, it’s essential to understand that our modern diets and lifestyles differ significantly from those in the past.

The Surprising:

  • Culinary Uses: You might be surprised to learn that myrrh has found its way into various cuisines. In some Middle Eastern dishes, myrrh is ground into a powder and used as a spice. Its earthy, slightly bitter flavor adds a unique twist to traditional recipes.
  • Cultural Practices: In certain cultures, myrrh is consumed as part of religious rituals or ceremonies. It’s seen as a way to connect with the divine or as an act of purification.

Safety Concerns: Beyond Just Eating

Is Myrrh Safe for Your Pets?

If you’re a pet owner, you might be wondering whether myrrh is safe for your furry friends. Unfortunately, like many substances, what’s okay for humans might not be suitable for animals. It’s crucial to be cautious and keep myrrh out of reach of your pets. While its aroma might be enticing, ingestion could lead to health issues for your beloved companions. For a detailed examination of this subject, read Is Myrrh Safe for Your Pets?

Conclusion

Myrrh, with its rich history and myriad uses, is undoubtedly a fascinating substance.

From its potential health benefits to its spiritual significance, it holds a special place in human culture.

Yet, when considering consuming it in its raw form, it’s essential to tread with caution. Listen to your body, consult professionals, and always be informed.

While its stories are as old as time, myrrh’s mysteries continue to unfold, inviting us to learn, explore, and respect the gifts of nature.

Scroll to Top