Myrrh has been used in TCM, Tibetan medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, Middle Eastern medicine and in Europe; therefore, it has numerous traditional indications. Myrrh has been used to treat infections, respiratory conditions, mouth ulcers, gingivitis, pharyngitis, respiratory catarrh, dysmenorrhoea, amenorrhoea, menopausal symptoms, wounds and haemorrhoids. It has also been used to treat arthritis and as an embalming agent.
Schistosomiasis Schistosomiasis is an important trematode infection affecting over 200 million people in the tropics and subtropics (Kumar & Clark 2002). After malaria, it is the next most important parasitic disease with chronic infection causing significant morbidity. Currently, the drug praziquantel is often recommended, but it does not affect the immature stage and may not abort an early infection. Additionally, a drug-resistant strain has developed (Beers & Berkow 2003). Due to these factors, there is great interest in discovering alternative treatments.
One clinical study involving 204 patients with schistosomiasis produced impressive results with a 3 day oral dose regimen producing a cure rate of 92% (Sheir et al 2001). Re-treatment of non-responders increased the overall cure rate to 98%. A field study produced similar results with 97.4% of subjects infected with the Schistosoma haematobium strain and 96.2% infected with the 5. mansonistrain successfully clearing the parasite after ingesting 1200 mg of Commiphora molmol daily for 6 days (bo-Madyan et al 2004a). However, two randomised trials, controlled with the drug praziquantel, have both shown little effectiveness of myrrh against the parasite (Barakat et al 2005, Botros et al 2005).
Fascioliasis Human fascioliasis occurs in Europe, Africa, China and South America and is infection with Fascioia hepatica, which is acquired by eating contaminated watercress. The flukes mature in the bile ducts and cause biliary tract obstruction and Myrrh 869
liver damage (Beers & Berkow 2003).
A small study of seven Infected patients found that treatment with myrrh over 6 consecutive days produced alleviation of all symptoms and signs, and a dramatic drop in egg count, with eggs no longer detected 3 weeks after treatment (Massoud et al 2001a). Furthermore, high eosinophil counts, elevated liver enzymes and Fasciola antibody titres returned to normal. A field study showed that myrrh (1200 mg daily for 6 days) cleared the parasite in 94.1% of infected people at the 3-month follow-up (bo-Madyan et al 2004b).
Mosquitocidal The oil and oleo-resin from the plant extract of C. molmol exhibits larvicidaI activity against Culex pipiens larvae (Massoud et al 2001 b).
Historical note — Myrrh and mummification
Chemical treatments were an essential part of the mummification process in ancient Egypt. Several different plant products were used in the process, one of which was oil of myrrh. Interestingly, modern-day research has discovered that the oil has molluscicidal properties against several Egyptian snail species, suggesting it may have been a wise choice for protecting mummified remains against destruction (Allam et al 2001)._
Three months' treatment with guggulipid (equivalent to 25 mg guggulsterone) was found to be as effective as tetracycline in the treatment of nodulocystic acne in a randomised clinical study of 20 patients (Thappa & Dogra 1994).
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