Myrrh is the sticky, dry resin of a certain forlorn desert tree, Commiphora myrrha. Myrrh is extracted by piercing the bark of the tree and returning later to collect the nuggets of dried sap. True to Myrrh’s reputation as a funerary herb, these pieces are sometimes called “tears.”
Ancient Egyptians used Myrrh, along with linen and natron, to embalm the dead. The resin both perfumes and preserves the body of the deceased. The Ebers papyrus (a document written around 1500 BCE contains over 800 medicinal formulas, many of which are based on a mixture of honey and myrrh. The antimicrobial and antioxidant properties of both substances are now known to science. Myrrh gum was also used by the ancients to treat infection, bruises, skin conditions, and toothache.
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