This is one of the most valuable remedies in the whole materia medica. It is usually spoken of as gum myrrh, although it contains little gum, chiefly resin. In whatever form it is used myrrh will be found to be a powerful antiseptic; having thousands of years ago been used for preservative purposes, and also as a medicine. It is usually administered as a tincture in water or syrup, although the powder may be given to great advantage. Two grains of the powdered myrrh may be considered an average dose, best given combined with other agents. It will be found advantageous to rub the myrrh thoroughly with sugar before making an infusion. A small teaspoonful each of myrrh and golden-seal to a pint of boiling water and a little ginger added will be found useful to weak stomachs where the food is prone to ferment. Dose, a teaspoonful every two hours. For deficient menstruation it has long been employed.
Outwardly applied, it is invaluable for foul ulcers, bed-sores and all forms of gangrene; best mixed with powdered charcoal and sprinkled over poultices of brewer's yeast, or the simple powdered myrrh with a little golden-seal may be sprinkled into indolent sores. Myrrh and golden-seal, with a little borax, may be blown into the throat of persons suffering from diphtheria; it will destroy the putrescence of the membrane and prevent blood poisoning. Powdered myrrh is a superior tooth-powder, especially where the gums are tender and bleeding. Tincture of myrrh may be diluted with glycerine and water for external use, or with simple water (a few drops to a glassful) for internal use.
Compound Tincture of Myrrh, commonly known as No. 6, is a powerful stimulant and antiseptic. It is a tincture of myrrh, two ounces, and capsicum, half an ounce, in a quart of alcohol. It is unequaled as an antiseptic for foul ulcers and is superior, when diluted, to every other antiseptic in operative surgery. Internally, a few drops in a glass of water will prove a powerful stimulant in shock,collapse, prostration and profound congestion. I prefer the Dr. Thomson No. 6 to the above compound, especially for internal use. The alcoholic compound is best for external use.
There is great difference in the quality of myrrh. That which comes from Turkey is of a brighter color, and more free from impurities than the East India myrrh. When of good quality it is reddish-yellow, and translucent; of a strong peculiar and somewhat fragrant odor, and a bitter aromatic taste. It is brittle and pulverizable, presenting, when broken, a shining surface, which in the larger masses is very irregular.
Myrrh is actively tonic, somewhat stimulant, and possesses in a high degree antiseptic properties. It constitutes the most essential ingredient in Dr. Thomson's No. 6, or rheumatic drops - one of the most valuable preparations, as a general family medicine, ever introduced into use.
Myrrh has been employed with much benefit in chronic diarrhoea, and diseases of the lungs or chest, attended with a free expectoration and general debility. Its use is also well adapted to female complaints, when unattended by fever.
The efficacy of Thomson's No. 6, and third preparation of Lobelia, in preventing mortification in disease of a malignant or putrid tendency, may be partly at least attributed to the myrrh contained in these preparations.
Applied to fresh wounds, the tincture of myrrh excites healing action and lessons the liability to the occurrence of unhealthy inflammation. It is also a useful application in old sores, ulcerated sore mouth and ulcerated sore throat, running from the ears, aphthous sore mouth, spongy gums, sore nipples, etc. The tincture of myrrh is also employed to promote the exfoliation of bones. In sinuous ulcers, and cavities that continue to discharge matter in consequence of a debilitated state of the vessels of the part, tincture of myrrh injected into the cavity, repeated daily, will seldom fail of establishing the inflammatory action necessary to the production of granulations and a union of the sides of the cavity. Where the parts are too sensitive to admit the tincture to be used undiluted, it may be combined with water or bayberry tea. In cases of scrofulous ulcers, white swellings, hip disease, and wherever there is a free discharge of matter from a part, and the system is in a relaxed condition, the internal use of myrrh will prove especially beneficial.
After a vapor bath, and the patient is rubbed dry, washing the surface with tincture of myrrh affords a means of protection against cold, and strengthens and improves the condition of the skin. This practice is especially useful in cases where the skin is relaxed, and the patient feeble, as in chronic bronchitis, consumption, chronic pleurisy, asthma, dropsy, chronic rheumatism, chronic diarhoea, marasmus, and in every other form of disease attended by general debility.
In order to make the tincture from the myrrh so that you will know that it is pure, take three ounces of the powdered myrrh, put them in a quart of alcohol, or fourth proof brandy, and put this into a stone jug and boil half an hour in a kettle of water, or let it macerate several days in a warm place.
The preparation of the No. 6 has already been explained. It is an excellent tonic and particularly useful, taken immediately after meals, to remove or prevent flatulency, and relieve oppression of the stomach. Ordinary colic may be speedily cured by taking freely of the No. 6. It is an effectual cure for ordinary colds, provided the patient avoids exposure, and improper articles of diet. Sickness at the stomach, and even severe spells of sick headache will be relieved and frequently cured by a free use of No. 6, together with warm applications to the feet to favor perspiration. It also constitutes a valuable remedy for bowel complaints in general. Taken after meals, it will prove a preventive against the summer complaint.
In deeply seated colds attended by a free expectoration of a thick yellowish secretion, the use of No. 6 will be found beneficial. Truly there is scarcely an ailment in which this preparation may not be used with benefit, except when the secretions are suspended, as in violent fever attended by a dry tongue. In the latter stages of disease, the No. 6 may be employed as a restorative, and when there is a tendency to putrefaction, its use is almost indispensable to the recovery of the patient.
As an external application No. 6 has been found useful in rheumatism, neuralgia, nightsweats, dropsy, consumption, and in all cases when the skin is in a relaxed condition. It may also be employed to great advantage in sprains, bruises, fresh cuts, indolent ulcers, gangrene, and as a preventive to mortification both internally and externally.