Commiphora Myrrha, (Nees) Baillon, or other species. A gum-resin yielding not less than 30 p.c. alcohol-soluble extractive, nor more than 4 p.c. acid-insoluble ash.

Habitat. E. Africa, S. W. Arabia, Somali country, around Hurrur; 450-900 M. (1500- 2000 degrees) elevation.

Syn. Myrrh, Gum Myrrh, Somali (Herabol) Myrrh, Resina Balsamodendri, Gummi- resina Myrrha; Fr. Myrrhe; Ger. Myrrha, Myrrhe.

Com-miph'o-ra. L. fr. Gr....Gum, + ..., bears, to bear -- i.e., produces gummy exudation.

Myr-rha. L. fr. Gr...., classic name -- Ar. Murr; Heb. Mar, bitter -- i.e., gum-resin has bitterish taste.

Plant

Low, stunted bush or small tree 2.5-3 M. (8-10 degrees) high; trunk considerable size, with many irregular, knotty, abortive branches at right angles, terminating in sharp spines; bark whitish-gray; leaves trifoliate, 2.5 Cm. (1') long, petiolate; leaflets sessile, 12 Mm. (1/2') long, unequal, obovate, central one the largest; flowers dioecious; fruit 12 Mm. 1/2') long, pyriform. GUM-RESIN (myrrh), in rounded, irregular tears or masses of agglutinated tears, reddish-brown, covered with yellowish dust; fracture waxy, granular, conchoidal, internally nearly white spots or lines, oily, translucent at edges; odor balsamic, aromatic; taste aromatic, bitter, acrid; triturated with water -- brownish-yellow emulsion; with alcohol--brownish-yellow tincture, changing with nitric acid to purplish-red; macerated with water -- neither swells nor dissolves.

Powder

yellowish-brown -- numerous angular fragments of resin and gum, few fragments or lignified tissue, few starch grains. Reject tears dissolving completely in water, or those swelling with water. Solvent: alcohol. Dose, gr. 5-30 (.3-2 Gm.).

Commiphora Myrrha:1, fruit-bearing twig; 2, ripe fruit; 3, and 4, vertical section of pistillate and staminate flowers respectively; 5, embryo.

Adulterations

Gum-resin of allied species (bdellium, etc. -- fracture more transparent or opaque, odor and taste different), vegetable fragments, sand, salt, dark gums swelling or adhesive with water.

Commercial

Trees form an undergrowth in the Red Sea coast forests where vegetation is scant, water scarce, and temperature high. Myrrh is formed in the bark and pith, and exudes spontaneously, like cherry-tree gum, or from artificial incisions through the stem-bark, being at first a juice, then oily, soft, yellowish, golden, finally hard and reddish. It is collected mostly by the Somali, both at home and across the Aden Gulf, Arabia, and formerly entered commerce via Egypt and Lavant ports, hence the name Turkey myrrh, but now is conveyed to the great fair of Berbera, there purchased by the Banians of India, and shipped via Aden to Bombay, where it is assorted into grades (bdellium separated) and put into chests, 100-200 pounds (46-90 Kg.). There are three varieties: 1, Turkey (African), the best -- our official kind; 2, Arabian, cultivated in S. Arabia, east of Aden, called by Arabs mur, by Somalis mulmul, heerabul, resembles the preceding, but smaller, tougher, without white lines in fracture, less resin, volatile oil and fragrance, only 25 p.c. soluble in alcohol; 3, Indian (Myrrha Indica), called natively bissabul, by Somalis hebbakhade, resembles dark myrrh, but has mushroom-like odor, strong, almost acrid, taste; contains resin 2l p.c., volatile oil 8 p.c., many impurities; in commerce as Opopanax.

Constituents

Volatile oil 4-8 p.c., Resin 25-40 p.c., Gum 40-60 p.c., bitter principle (glucoside, soluble in alcohol, water), ash 3-8.5 p.c. -- mostly calcium carbonate.

Volatile Oil, CHO.--Also called myrrhol or myrrhenol, identical in formula with thymol and carvol, but distinct from them; easily resinifies, pale yellow, thick liquid, sp. gr. 0.988.

Resin, CHO. -- Often called myrrhin, soluble in alcohol, chloroform, ether; consists of 2 parts -- one soft the other hard and acid, the latter yielding protocatechuic acid and pyrocatechin, and further divisible into 2 parts -- and commiphoric acids.

Gum. -- Two kinds, one soluble, the other swelling -- galactose and arabinose -- in water, adhesive, making stable paste; one precipitated by neutral, the other by basic lead acetate.

Preparations

1.  Tinctura Myrrhae.  Tincture of Myrrh.  (Syn., Tr. Myrrh.; Fr. Teinture de Myrrhe; Ger. Myrrhentinktur.)

Manufacture

20 p.c.  Similar to Tinctura Cardamomi Composita, page 137; menstruum: alcohol.  Dose, mxv-60 (1-4 cc.); mostly used externally.  2. Pilulae Aloes et Myrrhae, N.F., 1 gr. (.06 Gm.).  3. Tinctura Aloes et Myrrhae, N.F., 10 p.c.  4.  Tinctura Capsici et Myrrhae, N.F., 12 p.c.  5. Pilulae Antiperiodicae, N.F., 1/8 gr. (.008 Gm.).  6. Pilulae Rhei Compositae, N.F., 1 gr. (.06 Gm.).  7. Tinctura Antiperiodica, N.F., 1/5 p.c.

Unoff. Preps.: Fluidextract, mv-30 (.3-2 cc.).  Compound Iron Mixture (Griffith's), 1/8 p.c.  Plaster.

Properties

Stimulant, tonic, expectorant, emmenagogue, astringent, carminative, vulnerary; increases circulation and the number of white blood corpuscles; it is eliminated by the genito-urinary and bronchial mucous membranes, augmenting and disinfecting their secretions; large doses vomit, purge, decrease bronchial secretion.  Locally, stimulant, disinfectant, and antiseptic to mucous membranes, ulcerated surfaces, etc.

Uses

Atonic dyspepsia, amenorrhea, anemia, bronchial catarrh, cystitis, pharyngitis, chronic uterine and vaginal leucorrhea.  Locally -- ulcerated spongy gums, diseased mucous surfaces, relaxed throat, ptyalism, ozena, indolent ulcers; tincture freely diluted with water a good disinfectant gargle to ulcerated sore throat; much used in tooth powders and wash.