21 March 2012

Flavour of the Week - Myrrh

Similar to Aloeswood which we profiled a few weeks ago, myrrh is an oleoresin which can be taken from several small thorny species of tree known as genus Commiphora. Oleoresins are a natural combination of essential oil and resins.

The oleoresin is harvested by making the tree "bleed". The tree is wounded and penetrated through the bark into the sapwood, the subsequent ooze is myrrh. Frankincense is produced in a similar way. Myrrh is native to Yemem, Somalia, Eritrea and Eastern Ethiopia.

If we are looking to extract oil the species Commiphora and Balsamodendron should be used. The oil is produced through steam distillation of the resin and is used for perfumes, medicines, and incense.

While myrrh was popular in the ancient world, being used as medicine by China and Egypt and as part of a Egyptian sun-worshipping and mummification rituals, it is still proven to be of use in many modern cosmetics. You can find myrrh used as antiseptic in mouthwashes, gargles and toothpastes.

As an oil and as a scent myrrh is similar to amber and vanilla with a deep rich odour and flavour and is used in many scents and perfumes.

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