By John P. Thomas
Health Impact News

Do you have myrtle essential oil in your medicine cabinet?  How about in your kitchen cupboard? This essential oil can help your family’s health in many ways.

Myrtle (Myrtus communis L., Myrtaceae) is a medicinal herb that is used in traditional medicine in many parts of the world. Its berries, leaves and fruits have been used extensively as a traditional folk medicine for the treatment of disorders such as diarrhea, peptic ulcer, hemorrhoids, inflammation, pulmonary and skin diseases. Clinical and experimental research studies suggest that the essential oil of myrtle possesses an even broader range of benefits, which include antioxidative, anticancer, anti-diabetic, antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. It also protects the liver (hepatoprotective) and the nervous system (neuroprotective). [1]

Myrtus communis [common myrtle], is a native shrub in the Middle East. It grows in all the countries that border the Mediterranean. Countries where myrtle is native include: Turkey, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, France, Spain, Greece, and Italy. It has been brought to southern Britain and southern France.

The oil can be extracted from the leaves, branches, and berries. The oil that is most commonly used medicinally is extracted from the leaves. This oil will be liquid at room temperature. The color will range from clear to greenish-yellow to yellow-very-light-orange. Its aroma is reminiscent of frankincense or bay. Some examples of myrtle oil have a slight hint of camphor or eucalyptus. The oil from the myrtle berries is used as a flavoring for drinks and alcoholic beverages throughout the Mediterranean Area.

The name “myrtle” is also used for several other unrelated plants commonly found in the United States. These unrelated plants are called crepe myrtle, wax myrtle, and creeping myrtle.

Uses of Myrtle Oil

Myrtle Oil Normalizes the functioning of the Thyroid and Ovaries

Dr. David Stewart describes the amazing way that the human body and this essential oil work together to promote thyroid health.

(Myrtus communis) is an adaptogen that can stimulate an increase or a decrease in thyroid activity depending on a person’s condition. Drugs are incapable of such intelligent discriminations and act only in preprogrammed directions, like robots, whether beneficial or not. [2]

Myrtle oil has been researched by Daniel Penoel, M.D. of France for normalizing hormonal imbalances of the thyroid and ovaries. It also has benefits for decongesting the respiratory system and the sinuses. [3]

Adaptogen: an adaptogen will increase the functioning of a gland when its functioning is low, or will lower an overactive  gland. The same oil will bring the functioning of the gland to a more normal state whether it is underfunctioning or overfunctioning. This is quite different than pharmaceutical drugs, which are more similar to a bulldozer or sledge hammer that forces the body to move in one direction or the other. Most pharmaceutical drugs do not possess the ability to help our bodies naturally achieve better balance.

Myrtle Oil Kills Salmonella on Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

In this study, scientists intentionally inoculated fresh tomatoes and iceberg lettuce with a nalidixic acid resistant strain of Salmonella; then they used a cleaning solution containing essential oil of myrtle to test if it would kill the bacteria. They found that washing with myrtle leaf oil caused a significant reduction in bacteria. The dilution rate of the myrtle oil was 1 to 1000. The results suggest that the use of myrtle oil can be an alternative to the use of chlorine or synthetic disinfectants on fruits and vegetables, which is important for organic products. [4]

Myrtle Lowers Blood Sugar

Myrtle leaves as well as the essential oil obtained from the leaves are used to lower the blood glucose level in type-2 diabetic patients in Turkish folk medicine. A study worked with groups of diabetic and non-diabetic rabbits. They measured the effects of single and multiple doses of myrtle oil on blood sugar levels for both groups. The non-diabetic rabbits did not experience a change in blood sugar levels after being given oral doses of the essential oil. However, the diabetic rabbits had a 51% reduction in blood sugar levels which appeared after 4 hours. The repeated administration of myrtle oil once per day to the diabetic rabbits maintained the lower blood sugar levels during the week long study. Researchers used 50 mg and 100 mg of myrtle oil per 1 kg of body weight. There was also a 14% reduction in serum triglyceride. [5]

Myrtle can Treat Malaria 

Myrtle oil has been traditionally used in Iran for the treatment of Malaria. Malaria is a parasitic disease of the blood which is passed to human beings by mosquitoes. It is a common disease in the Middle East and Africa, where it causes serious illness and death. Scientists administered myrtle oil to mice that had been infected with Malaria and found that the treatment resulted in an 84% suppression of parasitic activity after four days of treatment. The treatment was not toxic to the mice, and researchers believed that this treatment offered promise for human cases of Malaria. [6]

Myrtle is a Mosquito Repellant

In this study, the ability of essential oil of myrtle and marigold to repel mosquitoes was compared to the use of DEET. The test was done in a laboratory with caged mosquitoes. The essential oil was applied to the skin of subject at a 50% dilution rate. The protection times against mosquito bites for marigold and myrtle were respectively 2.15 and 4.36 hours compared to 6.23 hours for DEET 25%. The myrtle oil was shown to be a nontoxic and effective mosquito repellant. [7]

If you live in a warm climate where frost is rare, you could plant several myrtle shrubs near your home to keep away the mosquitoes. Myrtle can also be grown in pots and kept indoors during cold weather months. As a house plant, it will keep away the pests and provide the room with a fresh essential oil fragrance, which will be beneficial to the respiratory system. [8]

Myrtle Kills Fungus and Mold

In this study, researchers evaluated the antifungal activity of the essential oil of myrtle against Candida albicans and different species of Aspergillus. They also evaluated the synergistic effect between the essential oil and the antifungal compound amphotericin. They found that myrtle oil exhibited good antifungal activity even when it was used by itself. [9]

Myrtle Heals Mouth Ulcers 

Recurrent Aphthous Stomatitis (RAS) is a common, painful, and ulcerative disorder of the oral cavity with an unknown cause. Myrtle is used in some cultures as treatment for mouth ulcers. The study was a randomized, double-blind, controlled before-after clinical trial. Forty-five patients with RAS randomly participated in this study. The subjects applied either oral placebo paste or myrtle oral paste four times per day for 6 days. The overall assessment by patients was that their condition improved after applying myrtle paste. No side effects were reported. Myrtle was effective in decreasing the size of oral ulcers, and it reduced skin redness, secretions, and pain. [10]

Healing Warts with Myrtle

Warts are a contagious skin disease. Medical treatments of warts are often not successful and may involve multiple relapses during which the affected area may increase in size. Facial warts are particularly difficult to treat. Iranian traditional medicine uses essential oil of myrtle as an economical and low cost topical treatment for warts. In this study, two patients with common warts were treated. They had warts on the body and on the face. They were instructed to apply myrtle oil on the skin of their body, but not on the face. The results were the elimination of the warts on the body as well as the face. Scientists hypothesized that Myrtle not only has antiviral effects but also may have systemic effects throughout the body. [11]

Myrtle for Hemorrhoids

Recommendation from Danièle Ryman:

Because of its astringent action, due to the high tannin content, myrtle is very effective against hemorrhoids. Add 6 drops myrtle to 30 g (1oz) cold cream, and mix well. Apply a few times per day, when the pain and swelling are at their worst. [12]

Myrtle for Face Cleansing and Acne 

Recommendation from Danièle Ryman:

Because the leaves are astringent, they were used in the sixteenth century to clean the skin. A special perfumed water called ‘eau d’anges’ was prepared in France and used for its tonic and astringent action. Myrtle is very effective in bad cases of acne, especially when there are painful boils with white heads. Mix 10 ml (2 tsp) grape seed oil, 1 drop wheat germ and 7 drops myrtle, and apply a few times per day until better. Cleanse the skin before and after applying the myrtle oil with a lotion made from 50 ml (2 fl oz) rosewater and 5 drops myrtle. This has a particularly astringent action on the greasy skin which is so often associated with bad acne. [13]

Ancient Medical History of Myrtle

Danièle Ryman provides us with some of the ancient history of myrtle:

The Ancient Egyptians knew of the therapeutic properties of myrtle, macerating the leaves in wine to counter fever and infection. Theophrastus later confirmed its place in therapy, adding that the best and most odiferous tree came from Egypt. Dioscorides also prescribed a wine in which the leaves had been macerated: this fortified the stomach and was effective for pulmonary and bladder infections, and for those who were spitting blood.

In 1876, Dr Delioux de Savignac advocated the use of myrtle for bronchial infections, for problems of the genitourinary system, and for hemorrhoids. Despite this enthusiasm, it was only last century that the therapeutic properties of myrtle were properly investigated; in his thesis about myrtle, one M. Linarix reconfirmed all the properties listed in the old texts, and judged myrtle the best tolerated of all the balsamic plants.

In Biblical times, Jewish women wore garlands of myrtle on their heads on their wedding day as a symbol of conjugal love, and to bring them luck. It is still often carried with orange blossom as a traditional bridal flower. Women in the south of France used to drink an infusion of the leaves every day to keep their youth and beauty.

Meat and the small birds which are a delicacy in Mediterranean countries can be wrapped in or stuffed with myrtle leaves: these impart their flavor after the meat or bird is cooked. Myrtle branches and twigs can be burned on a fire or barbecue beneath meat. The berries are edible, and were once dried like pepper. They can be used much like juniper, although they are milder. [14]

Description of the Myrtle Plant

The Common Myrtle is widely cultivated as an ornamental plant for use as a shrub in gardens and parks located in frost free zones. It is often used as a hedge plant, with its small leaves shearing cleanly. The plant is an evergreen shrub or small tree, growing to 5 meters (16 ft) tall. The leaves are complete without breaks, and are about 1.5 to 2 inches long. The leaves are fragrant and shiny.

When trimmed less frequently, it has numerous flowers in late summer. It requires a long hot summer and protection from winter frost to produce its flowers. The star-like flowers have five petals and sepals, and numerous stamens. Petals usually are white. The flowers are pollinated by insects. The fruit consists of round berries containing several seeds, most commonly blue-black in color. A variety with yellow-amber berries is also present. The seeds are dispersed by birds that eat the berries.


[1] “Review of Pharmacological Effects of Myrtus communis L. and its Active Constituents,” Phytother Res. 2/4/2014, PMID: 24497171.

[2] The Chemistry of Essential Oils Made Simple – God’s Love Manifest in Molecules, David Stewart, Ph.D., D.N.M., Integrated Aromatic Science Practitioner, Care Publications, Fourth Printing 2013, pp 60.

[3] IBID. pp 248.

[4] “Efficacy of myrtle oil against Salmonella Typhimurium on fresh produce,” Int J Food Microbiol. 3/31/2009, PMID: 19217679.

[5] “Hypoglycaemic effects of myrtle oil in normal and alloxan-diabetic rabbits,” J Ethnopharmacol. August 2004, PMID: 15234770.

[6] “In vitro and in vivo antimalarial evaluations of myrtle extract, a plant traditionally used for treatment of parasitic disorders,” Biomed Res Int., 12/23/2013, PMID: 24455686.

[7] “Repellency Effects of Essential Oils of Myrtle (Myrtus communis), Marigold (Calendula officinalis) Compared with DEET against Anopheles stephensi on Human Volunteers,” Iran J Arthropod Borne Dis. 12/31/2011, PMID: 22808414.

[8] Myrtle essential oil, Danièle Ryman, Retreived 5/16/14.

[9] “In vitro synergistic efficacy of combination of amphotericin B with Myrtus communis essential oil against clinical isolates of Candida albicans,” Phytomedicine. 3/1/2010, PMID: 20189786.

[10] “The efficacy of a paste containing Myrtus communis (Myrtle) in the management of recurrent aphthous stomatitis: a randomized controlled trial,” Clin Oral Investig., February 2010, PMID: 19306024.

[11] “First Case Report: Treatment of the Facial Warts by Using Myrtus communis L. Topically on the Other Part of the Body,” Iran Red Crescent Med J. February 2014, PMID: 24719732.

[12] Myrtle essential oil, Danièle Ryman, Retreived 5/16/14.

[13] IBID.

[14] IBID.

Additional Resources:

Myrtus communis – L. – Plants for a Future

Myrtus communisRoyal Horticultural Society

Myrtus nivellei Batt & Trab – A Guide to Medicinal Plants in North Africa

The Chemistry of Essential Oils