Day 15: Myrrh

Without a doubt, myrrh essential oil is by far, one of my favorites. To sum up why, I’d say, I like the way I feel when I use it. As it goes, my nature is an anxious one and myrrh grounds me .. not to mention, I like the way it smells. Some may say, placebo effect, and my thoughts are … your point?

Probably not the best response given the way I promote and talk about essential oils; yet, let’s take a look at what a placebo effect is and why so many people often scoff at it …

In a nutshell, we equate the placebo effect to one of 2 things:

  • there was nothing wrong with the person to begin with

  • the issue was really all in their head

According to WebMD: ‘Research on the placebo effect has focused on the relationship of mind and body. One of the most common theories is that the placebo effect is due to a person's expectations. If a person expects a pill to do something, then it's possible that the body's own chemistry can cause effects similar to what a medication might have caused’

I prefer the last definition as it is far kinder and touches on a very important piece of the puzzle … the mind / body connection! ‘If a person expects a pill to do something, then it’s plausible the body can produce effects similar to what a medication might have caused.’ This understanding goes for every remedy available, from medication, to supplement and / or essential oil and is significant as it explains why people experience benefits with questionable products. Furthermore, it demonstrates the power of belief and its ability to generate shifts in our chemistry!

With that ‘out of the way’, maybe the effects I get when using myrrh are simply because I believe it works, and then again, the aroma doesn’t remind of anything I consider comforting. However, the one and only time I found myself without this essential oil, I decided to pick some up at a nearby store. Although I believed it to be myrrh, the second I took a whiff, I felt agitated. The aroma not only lacked fullness and depth, it irritated my system. My guess is if I hadn’t been SO skeptical about buying essential oils from a local retailer, I may have had a different experience altogether. Again, the power of thought.

But what about authentic myrrh?

Basically, a chemical is a chemical whether man or nature made. In fact, essential oils are made up of a combination of chemicals such as mono and sesquiterpenes, alcohols, phenols, ketones, esters, ethers, and/or aldehydes. These substances vary and have the ability to influence genetic receptor activity.

Maybe a pill, a.k.a. sugar pill, has the ability to ‘fool’ someone into believing it’s helping them, and then again, does it really? Let’s leave this for discussion. In the meantime, using an essential oil is not a false attempt at fooling someone. It definitely interacts with the body, even if there are additional chemicals added to it …

Did you know …

Endorphins, depicted as … C158H251N39O46S … are neuropeptides produced in the immune cells that act on the opioid receptors as a natural response to pain and bonding

  •  Note the nitrogen (N) in the formula

  •  There is no nitrogen in myrrh

When alkaloids are consumed via plant matter, they have a wide variety of actions on the body as they are broken down and used for modulating the immune system, stimulating the production of endorphins for protection from microbes as well as the relief from pain.

When it comes to myrrh: after many years of practice, the systemic effects are clear and my belief is myrrh also modulates the immune system with a broader mechanism of action due to being 100% active; thereby, triggering the production of endorphins rather than replacing them as pharmaceutical alkaloids do.

This same theory can be applied with every essential oil as they stimulate the production of our very own natural chemicals rather than replacing them!

And then there’s the fact that myrrh is referenced in both Ancient Egyptian and Chinese texts for the relief of insomnia and pain.

Besides these historical references and my observations and theories, consider the following:

Furanoeudesma-1,3-diene, the primary constituent found in myrrh, has been identified as an opioid receptor agonist. A significant discovery in and of itself; yet, when combined with other sesquiterpenes like furanodiene and lindestrene, also found in myrrh, the pain relieving and anti-inflammatory benefits are underscored.

However, the immune system is not all that’s affected. The body is a system of interacting systems. While the production of endorphins relieve symptoms of systemic distress, they are powerful brain chemicals that calm mental and emotional stress as well. Therefore, the chemical makeup of myrrh quiets the mind and soothes agitated bodies, including excitable children..

On the other hand, there is a downside to various myrrh distillations, several contain a small percentage of beta-caryophyllene, a constituent that is contraindicated with a number of medications metabolized by the CYP450 3A4 enzyme. While ‘small’, please understand ‘adverse reactions’ and choose wisely. Above all, never hesitate to ask questions.

Thank you for your interest in this article as well as essential oils! Please sign up for my monthly newsletter and let me know if you have any questions!