Family: Burseraceae (Torchwood family)
Genus: Commiphora
Botanical name: Commiphora stocksiana
Sanskrit: Rasaganda
Hindi: Mitha guggal
English: Mitha Guggal, Common Myrrh tree
Malayalam: Myrrha, Mira, Meera
Myrrha is a shrub or Mitha guggal a small tree, up to 4 m tall. Branches are covered with papery bark and young shoots are velvety. Alternately arranged leaves, carried on 1-1.5 cm long stalks, are 3-5 foliolate, velvety. Lateral leaflets are oblong, round or obovate, entire, 0.5-1.3 cm long, 0.3-1 cm broad. Central leaflet is stalked, 0.5-1.5 cm long, 0.5-1 cm broad, obovate, oval or broadly elliptic, entire. Hermaphrodite and male flowers are present on the same plant, stalkless, white to red, 3-5 mm long. Bracts are 2, opposite. Sepals are 4, fused into a 4-lobed tube, lobes valvate, l-2 mm long, velvety outside. Petals are 4 free, spreading, acute, 3-5 mm long, 1-1.5 mm broad. Stamens are 8, free, equal, usually shorter than the petals, 3-5 mm long. Fruit is 0.5-l.5 cm long, red when ripe, marked with 4, alternately short and long white lines, round, mucronate, mesocarp yellow, 4 lined, fused at the base on one side and up to the middle (or more) on the other side, splitting along the white lines from base upwards.
In traditional Chinese medicine, myrrh is classified as bitter and spicy, with a neutral temperature. It is said to have special efficacy on the heart, liver, and spleen meridians, as well as "blood-moving" powers to purge stagnant blood from the uterus. It is therefore recommended for rheumatic, arthritic, and circulatory problems, and for amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, menopause, and uterine tumors. Myrrh's uses are similar to those of frankincense, with which it is often combined in decoctions, liniments, and incense. When used in concert, myrrh is "blood-moving" while frankincense moves the Qi, making it more useful for arthritic conditions. It is combined with such herbs as notoginseng, safflower petals, angelica sinensis, cinnamon, and salvia miltiorrhiza, usually in alcohol, and used both internally and externally.
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