Myrrh Oil: Are There Health Benefits?

Medically Reviewed by Christine Mikstas, RD, LD on November 23, 2022
3 min read

Myrrh oil is one of the oldest essential oils in recorded history. It’s mentioned in Biblical texts, it’s an important part of Ayurvedic medicine in India, and it’s been found in ancient Egyptian tombs that are more than 2,000 years old. It’s known for its rich, smokey, and sweet scent, and science is beginning to study it for potential health benefits.

Historically, myrrh oil has been used as a folk remedy for conditions such as:

Science has begun to find that myrrh oil may actually provide benefits for some of these conditions. However, studies have also found that myrrh oil on its own should not be consumed. In fact, like most essential oils, myrrh oil can be toxic if consumed. Here’s the breakdown of myrrh’s benefits and dangers.

Myrrh oil smells wonderful and may contain compounds that can help a variety of common conditions. However, the same aspects that make myrrh oil so potent also can make it extremely dangerous to consume. Here are the benefits myrrh may eventually provide:

Reduce Inflammation

Myrrh oil appears to contain compounds that can help reduce the chemicals that cause inflammation in the body. These chemicals can trigger chronic swelling and pain.

As a result, certain myrrh oil extracts are being studied as potential treatments for inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. However, more trials need to be done to find safe dosages.

Reduce Headache and Back Pain

Studies also suggest that certain myrrh oil extracts can significantly reduce pain from headaches, sore muscles, and sore backs.

The compound furanodiene, which is found in myrrh oil, appears to help reduce pain significantly in many pathologies. Not all myrrh oil is high in this compound, so more work needs to be done in order to standardize this usage of myrrh.

Improve Oral Health

For some people with oral inflammation or canker sores, rinsing your mouth with a small amount of myrrh oil may help reduce pain and improve healing.

One study showed that using a mouthwash that contained myrrh as an active ingredient helped reduce oral sores and pain in more than 80% of patients. However, it’s important to note that this was due to direct contact between the myrrh and the sores, not because of swallowing the mouthwash.

Despite the studies that suggest myrrh may have helpful compounds, it is still not recommended that you consume any amount of myrrh oil. Studies have shown a number of toxic effects from consuming myrrh. Consider the following before adding myrrh oil to anything you consume:

May Cause Heart Arrhythmia

Myrrh oil is known to be toxic in large amounts, and your heart is one of the things at risk if you consume it. Myrrh can increase your heart rate and lead to arrhythmias (changes to normal heart rate) if consumed. People with known heart conditions should be particularly careful about avoiding the consumption of myrrh oil. 

May Interfere with Blood-Thinning Medications

Similarly, it appears that myrrh oil can significantly interfere with certain anticoagulant medications (blood thinners). Drugs like Warfarin are critical for the health of the people taking them. If you are on a blood-thinning medication, avoid consuming myrrh oil to help keep your medication working appropriately.

May Cause Hypoglycemia

Myrrh has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels in some studies. However, the effect is still being studied for safety. People with diabetes should avoid consuming myrrh oil in order to reduce their risk of hypoglycemia, or blood sugar levels that are too low.

Pregnancy Concerns

People who are pregnant should never consume myrrh oil in any capacity, because it may be linked to miscarriages and birth defects. Myrrh may cause uterine cramps and bleeding, leading to significant medical problems. 

Myrrh oil should be used as a part of topical treatments or aromatherapy only. Swallowing any amount of myrrh oil can have dangerous side effects.

Using myrrh oil as a part of skin treatments or in an oil diffuser is much safer than consuming any amount of it. If you are interested in the anti-inflammatory or pain relief qualities of myrrh, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen may be more effective and safe.