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'Gloomy' myrrh good for heart

22nd December 2009

Myrrh, the Middle Eastern tree resin, may contain powerful heart-healthy compounds, according to new Saudi research.

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Nadia Saleh Al-Amoudi from King Abd Al-Aziz University in Saudi Arabia said that myrrh resin could be used along with other plants to give a big boost to heart health.

She said, however, that more research would be needed before scientists could find a safe way of administering it to people.

Raw myrrh resin can be toxic and should not be eaten.

Though the substance has many sources in Africa, India, and the Middle East, myrrh comes primarily from the dried sap of a number of trees native to Yemen, Somalia, Ethiopia, and Jordan.

Though the name of the resin entered English from Ancient Greek, it is thought to have originally come from a language source located in the Middle East or East Africa, where it has been used as a traditional remedy for sore throat, congestion, bad breath, cuts, and burns.

For the purposes of the study, Al-Amoudi fed a cocktail of myrrh resin and other plant materials to albino rats, and found that it increased their blood levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as "good" cholesterol.

Myrrh is known in the west as one of the three gifts of the Magi and is part of the Christian story of Christmas, and it has other medicinal associations for various cultures around the world.

Ayurvedic medicine, the traditional medicinal system of India, has its own uses for myrrh.

Chemists working with Ayurvedic medicine have found that Indian myrrh contains compounds which lower blood lipids.

The compound found in Indian myrrh inhibited a gene in the livers of test animals that affects cholesterol absorption.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), myrrh is used to treat menstrual problems, as well as problems affecting the heart, liver, and spleen.

TCM also employs myrrh and used along with frankincense for treating arthritis.

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Carolyn Thomas

Wednesday 13th January 2010 @ 15:29

"...it increased their blood levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as "good" cholesterol..."

Just the opposite - LDL is the "bad" stuff. A simple but important typo?


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