Red myrtle essential oil, prince of fragrant plants

During most of antiquity, the myrtle was given a value similar to the olive or laurel. Despite this, over time it lost much of its former luster.

A bit of mythology

Sometimes dedicated to Artemis , sometimes to Hades , Mars or even Dionysos , the rich mythology of Greek civilization transmits to us the plant origin of the myrtle. Born of a quarrel between Athena and the nymph Myrsine , who boasted that she could outrun the goddess, Athena metamorphosed the latter out of jealousy into a myrtle.

A little history

The myrtle was very important for most of the peoples and civilizations that border the southern coast, because it grows wild in Corsica, Italy, the Maghreb, Egypt, the Balkans and more. He indeed maintained a symbiotic relationship with the homelands of peoples such as Persia, Egypt and Greece.

Hippocrates advocated bathing with myrtle to stop the flow of menstrual blood in women, while Theophrastus favored Egyptian myrtle, which he believed was sweeter.

Pliny noted that myrtle had digestive, antiperspirant and astringent properties, especially in cases of diarrhea, leucorrhoea and bleeding. The myrtle was completely neglected throughout the Middle Ages, it was not until the 16th century that Matthiole put it back on the front of the stage. For him, myrtle was actually a popular stomach fortifier during bouts of enteritis and dysentery, a heart tonic, and a remedy for skin conditions like erysipelas and herpes.

What are the pharmacological properties of the essential oil of red myrtle twigs ?

Expectorant and mucolytic effects:

The 1.8 cineole contained in the essential oil of red myrtle stimulates the exocrine glands of the respiratory mucous membranes . Anticatarrhal as well as expectorant , it is particularly active on the broncho-pulmonary sphere:

  • Decongestant
  • Antitussive
  • Treats deep affections, on the large pulmonary trunks and the trachea
  • Prostatic, lymphatic and venous decongestant of the large trunks
  • Releases stasis, in metabolic slowdowns
  • Respiratory oxygenating
  • Secretolytic
  • Mucolytic

This oil is also antitussive and balsamic . It increases the kinetics of mucociliary transport in the sinuses.

Antimicrobial effect:

Antibacterial against Staphylococcus aureus resistant to methicillin, antiviral and antifungal in particular against Aspergillus , then inhibiting the formation of biofilm in Candida albicans , the essential oil of red myrtle potentiates the antibiotic effect of tetracycline on Staphylococcus aureus by acting on efflux pumps.

The alpha-pinene it contains modulates antibiotic resistance in Campylobacter jejuni , decreases the minimum inhibitory concentration of antibiotics (ciprofloxacin, erythromycin, triclosan), and inhibits microbial efflux pumps, thereby altering membrane integrity as well as microbial metabolism.

Anti-inflammatory effect:

1,8 cineole has in particular demonstrated in vitro its anti-inflammatory effect on white blood cells (monocytes) against inflammation inducers such as interleukin-1β. Mediators of the inflammatory reaction, such as metabolites of arachidonic acid, leukotrienes B, thromboxane-B and prostaglandins E are significantly reduced in the lungs, as well as TNF-α (tumor necrosis factor).

Anti-inflammatory , with an adrenergic stimulating action, alpha-pinene is also chondroprotective .

Antispasmodic effect:

In addition, myrtle is antispasmodic by acting on the smooth muscles of the trachea vis-à-vis acetylcholine.

Insecticidal and antiparasitic effects:

The essential oil destroys the larvae of three species of culex mosquitoes (vectors of many viral and parasitic diseases) as well as head lice. Myrtle essential oil has also shown an effect against Plasmodium falciparum involved in malaria.

Other effects:

  • Hormone-like (thyroid, ovary)
  • Venotonic, lymphotonic and decongestant action of the prostate
  • antioxidant
  • Anticancer properties, activates NK cells and increases their cytotoxicity
  • Sedative and sleep-inducing effects

Does Red Myrtle essential oil require any precautions for use?

  • Contraindicated in pregnant or breastfeeding women
  • Reserved for adults (risk of convulsion in children)
  • Do not diffuse (irritating to the respiratory tract)
  • Caution in case of oral renal failure (nephrotoxic)
  • Do not combine with cortisone, risk of drug interaction
  • α-pinene is an enzyme inhibitor, risk of drug interactions, ask your pharmacist for advice
  • Contraindicated in asthmatics
  • Prohibited in animals
  • Oral route only on medical prescription
  • Not recommended in case of history of seizures as well as antiepileptic treatment
  • No prolonged use, maximum two consecutive weeks
  • Dermocaustic, dilution required
  • Caution in hormone-dependent pathologies

Medical bibliographic sources and clinical trials :


Clementine. M.
Writer of scientific articles
Naturopath – Aromatherapist / Herbalist – Phytotherapist
Consultant in clinical phyto-aromatherapy and Ethnomedecine

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