(From Hebrew, mar, bitter). Myrrh, stacte, ergasma, in the ancient designation, Z z. Dioscorides mentions a fatty species, gabirea. It is a gummy resinous concrete, brought immediately from Alexandria, Smyrna, and Aleppo, said to be a produce of the scandix odorata; found, according to Bruce, in that part of Africa to the south of the straits of Babel-mandel. When he inquired after the plant which produced it, they constantly brought him the branches of the acacia nilotica. Loueiro has told us that it is the production of a species of laurus, but this is improbable; and from its sensible qualities, it seems rather to belong to the genus amyris. It is brought to us in globules, or drops, of various colours and sizes. That of a reddish brown colour, not verging too much to a yellow or black, uniform on the outside, internally speckled or streaked with white, semicircular striae, clear and bright, somewhat unctuous to the touch but not so tenacious as to slick to the fingers, is the best. If whitish, or dark, resinous, fetid or mixed with impurities, it should be rejected.

This drug is subject to a variety of frauds; it is mixed with hard, shining, yellow pieces of a gum, void of smell or taste. Pieces of bdellium are found with it, known by their darker colour, their being soft within, and by their different smell and taste. Sometimes an unctuous gummy resin, of a moderately strong, somewhat ungrateful, smell, and a bitterish, very durable taste; obviously different both from those of bdellium and myrrh; at others, pieces of a hard, compact, dark coloured kind of tears, less unctuous than myrrh, of an offensive smell, a most ungrateful bitterness, and of a very resinous nature, are mixed with it. The myrrh itself is sometimes blackish, gathered probably from old trees, and fitter for tinctures; or yellow, apparently from young trees. The latter easily dissolves in the mouth, hath a much more agreeable aromatic smell, and is preferable for pills, powders, and watery solutions. All the variety seems, according to Bruce, to arise from the age of the tree, and the period of collecting.

Myrrh is said to be balsamic, vulnerary, antiseptic, attenuant, and deobstruent; but its real virtues seem not to be clearly understood. It is a bitter, apparently of the narcotic kind, and in doses from ten to fifteen grains appears to be mildly corroborant, and gently sedative. That it promotes the secretions is doubtful, but its having been so frequently given as an emmena-gogue seems to show that it has sonic power in promoting this discharge. We find it reprobated by the French physicians, as promoting bloody urine; and we have confessed some prejudice against it in hectics where haemoptoe had occurred, or was dreaded. In cases of languid circulation and cachexy, it seems to be useful rather as a tonic than as a stimulant; and it seems occasionally of service as an antispasmodic. In external sores it is a mild sedative, and frequently an antiseptic application; effects which perhaps recommended it to internal use in hectics. In doses of from half a drachm to two scruples it is said to be stimulant; but such we have never given. In some states of low fever, however, it seems occasionally to act as a cordial.

It dissolves almost totally in boiling water; but as the liquor cools, the resinous part subsides; and if the solution is evaporated to an extract, the bitter of this drug only remains. By distillation with a boiling heat in water, the whole of its flavour rises, partly impregnating the distilled water, and partly collected and concentrated in the form of an essential oil, in smell extremely fragrant, and more agreeable than the myrrh in substance; in taste remarkably mild, and so ponderous as to sink in water. Two or three drachms of this oil are obtained from Myrrha 5108 xvi. of the gum. Rectified spirit dissolves less of the myrrh than water; but it extracts more perfectly that in which its bitterness, flavour, and virtue consist. The spirituous solution contains all the active matter; in distillation nothing is caaried away by the spirit, so that the extract obtained from a spirituous solution is a very fragrant, bitter, tenacious resin, and possesses all the virtue of the myrrh.

From 7680 parts of myrrh Neumann procured 6000 of watery extract, 180 of volatile oil, and 720 of alcoholic extract: by inverting the order, 2400 of alcoholic and 4200 of watery extract. Myrrh is not fusible, and with difficulty inflammable, soluble in alkalis; but the tincture poured into water becomes yellow and opaque. The watery solution, when filtered, is also yellow. Myrrh was anciently of great value, not as a medicinal substance, but as one of the ingredients for embalming.

The London College directs the tincture of myrrh to be prepared by adding three ounces by weight of bruised myrrh to a pint and half of proof spirit, and half a pint of rectified spirit of wine. It must be digested with a gentle heat for eight days, and strained. This tincture is frequently employed in detergent gargles (see Aphthae); but if one ounce of hepatic aloes be added it becomes the tinctura myrrhae cum aloe, and is applied externally to ulcers as a vulnerary, and is useful when such are foul and fetid, requiring stimulating applications.

Elixir myrrhae compositum. Tinctura sabinae com-fiosita, is made by adding one ounce of the extract of savin to tincture of castor, one pint; tincture of myrrh half a pint. Digest until the extract is dissolved, and strain. (Pharm. Lond. 1788.) This was formerly called elixir uterinum; and is given in a dose of from twenty to forty drops, in a cup of pennyroyal tea, twice a day. It is esteemed a good emmenagogue, possessing similar virtues to the powder and extract of sabine.

Pulvis e myrrha compositus. Take of the leaves of dried rue, savin, myrrh, and Russia castor, of each an ounce; mix and beat them into a powder (Pharm. Lond. 1788). Given in a dose of twenty-five or thirty grains two or three times a day, it is esteemed an efficacious medicine, in uterine obstructions, and hysteria.

Pulvis myrrhae added in an-equal proportion to the lapis calaminaris is sometimes sprinkled upon an ulcer, to promote cicatrization.

Oleum myrrhae per deliquium. Boil an egg very hard, take out the yolk, and fill the cavity with myrrh, bind the divided sides together, and it will deliquesce in a cool moist atmosphere.

It possesses all the smell and taste of the myrrh, may be precipitated and coagulated by spirit of wine, and the coagulum dissolved by water. It is used as a cosmetic. See Raii Historia; Tournefort, Lewis, and Cullen's Materia Medica; Neumann's Chemistry,

Myrrha. See Anime.