Commiphora myrrha (Nees) Engl.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Last updated: 21 March 2017

Scientific Name

Commiphora myrrha (Nees) Engl.


Balsamea myrrha (T.Nees) Oken, Balsamea myrrha Baill., Balsamea playfairii Engl., Balsamodendrum myrrha T.Nees, Commiphora coriacea Engl., Commiphora cuspidata Chiov., Commiphora molmol (Engl.) Engl. ex Tschirch, Commiphora myrrha var. molmol Engl., Commiphora rivae Engl. [1]

Vernacular Name

English Common myrrh, common myrrh tree, harobol myrrh, heera bol tree, hirabol myrrh, myrhh, official myrrh, true myrrh [2]
China Mo yao, mokyak, mu yao [2]
India Balintrapolum, narnarah, bol, bola, bolah, carukkaraippolam, gandharasa, guggula, hirabol karam, kanturu, kuntavilakkam, kunturu, mur makki, narumpasa, polam, rasagandha, saindhav, samudraguggul, valattipolam, valentira palam, vellaipolam, vellattipolam [2]
Korea Yuhyang [2]
Japan Motsuyaka [2]
Tibetan Bo labo ra pa, bo la bor pa [2].

Geographical Distributions

Commiphora myrrha was found in areas such as Ethiopia and Somalia. C. myrrha can be traced back to the Arabian Peninsula [3]. It has been associated with countries such as Yemen, Oman, and Egypt [4].

Botanical Description

C. myrrha is a member of the family Commiphora. The shrub is very spiny and reaches upwards to 4m. The bark is whitish, silver or blue-grey. This bark peels, and reveals the green under bark, which contains the resin. This resin is hard, translucent and yellowish in colour. [5]

The leaves are trifoliate, chartaceous, greyish green or glaucous, very variable in shape and size; petiole 1-10 mm long; a few lateral leaflets, sometimes very minute may be found on both short and long and short shoot leaves. [5]

The male flowers are usually precocious, 2-4 in dichasial cymes 3-4 mm long which are often sparsely glandular. [5]

The fruits produced are usually 1-2 on jointed stalks, ovoid, flattened and beaked 2-4 mm long. [5]

The seed smooth with gentle swellings. [5]


No documentation

Chemical Constituent

C. myrrha has been reported to contain furanoeudesma-1,3-diene, lindestrene, curzerene, germacrone [4]. Other compound reported are sesquiterpenes, δ and β- elemenes, α copaene, monoterpene hydrocarbons, furanic composites, ketones, aldehydes [6][7].

C. myrrha resin’s were identified to contain α-elemene, 7-isopropyl-1,4-dimethyl-2-azulenol, curzerene, and germacra-1(10)7,11-trien-15-oic acid,8,12-epoxy-6-hydroxy-ç-lactone. [8]

Plant Part Used

Oleo-gum resin. [4]

Traditional Use

It have been reported since antiquity in USA, products derived from C. myrrha and various other species of Commiphora are becoming recognised to possess significant antiseptic, anesthetic and antitumor properties. [4]

C. myrrha has an unmistakable earthy aroma. C. myrrha has been used for thousands of years and was popularly used for embalming. Other uses include incense, perfume, toothpastes and other toiletries. Its value in ancient cultures is evident in the fact that it was used with great reverence. [5]

Preclinical Data


Anticancer activity

Using tumor-bearing mice, researchers looked at the cytotoxic potential of C. myrha in cancer. The oleoresin in dosages of 250 mg and 500 mg per kg/day had cytotoxic activity against Ehrlich solid tumor cells. The researchers stated that more studies are needed to develop possible cancer therapies. [5] A similar study found that treatment with 125-500 mg/kg also showed anticarcinogenic properties in mice as a result of the antioxidant, cytotoxic and nonmutagentic potential. [8]

Antibacterial activity

Terpenes derived from the oleoresin of C. myrrha exhibited displayed potentiation of ciprofloxacin and tetracycline against S. aureus, several Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium strains and two K. pneumoniae strains. [9]

Anti-inflammatory activity

Pre-clinical studies have demonstrated anti-inflammatory effects of C. myrrha in both acute (xylene-induced ear oedema) and chronic (cotton-pellet granuloma) inflammation. [6]

Antithrombic activity

When compared to five other Egyptian herbs, Commiphora exhibited the greatest antithrombic activity in an experimental setting. The extract of C. myrrha resin showed strongest activity, protecting 86% ± 3.6% of the mice from thrombosis. [7]

Antichistosmal activity

The efficacy of purified oleo-resin extract of myrrh was studied against an Egyptian strain of Schistosoma mansoni in mice. 70 adult mice were used in the study and they were divided into 4 groups. Group I consisted of control group noninfected nontreated mice, Group II comprised of the noninfected treated mice and was subdivided into two subgroups, subgroup II-A include mice which received Myrrh extract dissolved in cremophore EL and subgroup II-B include mice which were treated with cremophore EL, Group III consisted of the infected nontreated animals and Group IV are the infected treated group.


No documentation

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

In a small human study, C. myrrha as Mirazid was given to patients before breakfast on six consecutive days to evaluate its efficacy against Dicrocoeliasis dendriticum, a zoonotic helminthic disease. At the end of the six days all patients examined demonstrated 100% clear of the microbe, a finding confirmed again after two months. [10]


No documentation

Poisonous Management

No documentation

Line drawing

No documentation


  1. The Plant List. Ver 1.1. Commiphora myrrha (Nees) Engl. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013. [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2017 Mar 21]. Available from:
  2. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume II C-D. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p.394.
  3. Al-Mathal EM. Commiphora molmol in human welfare (review article). J Egypt Soc Parasitol. 2007;37(2):449-468.
  4. Tonkal AM, Morsy TA. An update review on Commiphora molmol and related species. J Egypt Soc Parasitol. 2008;38(3):763-796.
  5. World Agroforestry Center 2017. Commiphora myrrha. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013. [cited 2017 Mar 21]. Available from:
  6. Atta AH, Alkofahi A. Anti-nociceptive and anti-inflammatory effects of some Jordanian medicinal plant extracts. J Ethnopharmacol. 1998;60(2):117-124.
  7. Olajide OA. Investigation of the effects of selected medicinal plants on experimental thrombosis. Phytother Res. 1999;13(3):231-232.
  8. Al-Harbi MM, Qureshi S, Raza M, Ahmed MM, Giangreco AB, Shah AH. Anticarcinogenic effect of Commiphora molmol on solid tumors induced by Ehrlich carcinoma cells in mice. Chemotherapy. 1994;40(5):337-347.
  9. European Medicines Agency. Assessment report on Commiphora molmol Engler, gummi-resina. Committee on Herbal Medicinal Products (HMPC). London, United Kingdom. 2010:96910.
  10. Al-Mathal EM, Fouad MA. Myrrh (Commiphora molmol) in treatment of human and sheep Dicrocoeliasis dendriticum in Saudi Arabia. J Egypt Soc Parasitol. 2004;34(2):713-720.