Myrrh

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Chapter: Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry : Drugs Containing Resins

Myrrh is an oleo gum-resin obtained from the stem of Commiphora molmol Eng. or C. abyssinica or other species of Commiphora, belonging to family Burscraceae.


MYRRH

 

 

Synonyms

 

Gum-resin Myrrh; Gum Myrrh; Arabian or Somali Myrrh; Myrrha.

 

Biological Source

 

Myrrh is an oleo gum-resin obtained from the stem of Commiphora molmol Eng. or C. abyssinica or other species of Commiphora, belonging to family Burscraceae.

 

Geographical Source

 

It grows in Arabian pennisula, Ethiopia, Nubia, and Somal-iland.

 

Collection

 

Myrrh plants are small trees up to 10 meters in height. They have the phloem parenchyma and closely associated ducts containing a yellowish granular liquid. The tissues between these ducts often collapse, thereby producing large cavities similarly filled, that is, schizogenous ducts become lysigenous cavities. The gum-resin exudes spontaneously or by incising the bark. The yellowish-white, viscous fluid is solidified readily to produce reddish-brown masses which are collected by the natives.

 

Characteristics

 

Myrrh occurs as irregular masses or tears weighing up to 250 g. The outer surface is powdery and reddish-brown in colour. The drug breaks and is powdered readily. Fractured surface is rich brown and oily. Odour is aromatic and taste is aromatic, bitter, and acrid.

 


              Commiphora molmol


Chemical Constituents

 

Myrrh contains resin (25–40%), gum (57–61%), and volatile oil (7–17%). Large portion of the resin is ether-soluble containing α-, β-, and γ-commiphoric acids, resenes, the esters of another resin acid and two phenolic compounds. The volatile oil is a mixture of cuminic aldehyde, eugenol, cresol, pinene, limonene, dipentene, and two sesquiterpenes. The disagreeable odour of the oil is due to mainly the disulphide. The gum contains proteins (18%) and carbohydrate (64%) which is a mixture of galactose, arabinose, glucuronic acid, and an oxidase enzyme.

 

Chemical Tests


1.     A yellow brown emulsion is produced on trituration with water.

2.     Ethereal solution of Myrrh turns red on treatment with bromine vapours. The solution becomes purple with nitric acid.

 

Uses

 

Myrrh is used as carminative and in incense and perfumes. It has local stimulant and antiseptic properties and is utilized in tooth powder and as mouth wash. Topically it is astringent to mucous membranes. It is used in a tincture, paint, gargle and rinse due to its disinfecting, deodourizing, and in inflammatory conditions of the mouth and throat. Alcoholic extracts are used as fixatives in the perfumery industry.

 

Allied Drugs

 

Four different varieties of’ bdellium are present. Of these, perfumed or scented bdellium or bissabol is obtained from C. erythaea var. glabrescens. It resembles soft myrrh in appearance but more aromatic odour and does not give a violet colour.

 

Marketed Products

 

It has been marketed as Guggulipid by CDRI, Lucknow, India. In ayurveda, it is sold as Yograj guggulu (Baidyanath) for antiinflammatory and antihyperlipidemic activity, and it is also a constituent of Madhumehari (Baidyanath).

 

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