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J Egypt Soc Parasitol. 2008 Dec;38(3):763-96.

An update review on Commiphora molmol and related species.

Author information

  • 1Department of Medical Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine King Abdul Aziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Abstract

The origins of myrrh and frankincense are traced to the Arabian Peninsula. According to Herodotus (5th century BC): "Arabia is the only country which produces frankincense, myrrh, cassia, and cinnamon.., the trees bearing the frankincense are guarded by winged serpents of small size and various colors." Diodorus Siculus wrote, in the second half of the first century BC, that "all of Arabia exudes a most delicate fragrance; even the seamen passing by Arabia can smell the strong fragrance that gives health and vigor." He also mentioned gold mines so pure that no smelting was necessary. The Magi, carrying myrrh, frankincense, and gold, came from the East: Arabia. The frankincense trade route, with transport by donkeys and later by camel caravans, reached Jerusalem and Egypt from the Dhofar region of what is today Oman, through Yemen, turning north to follow the Red Sea coast. It is likely that the same or similar species of the resin-bearing plants grew across the Red Sea in the area that is now Somalia and Ethiopia, while the collection of the gum resins was initiated in Arabia. Myrrh contributed much in the human welfare. Schistosomiasis was known in ancient Egypt since remote times. Haematuria with urinary bladder disturbances was mentioned in four Papyrus papers dated back to 1950-1900 BC, and Schistosoma ova was detected in a cirrhotic liver of a mummy from 1200 BC (Ruffer, 1910). Also, Fasciola eggs were detected in a mummy (Looss, 1896). Fascioliasis infected over 17 million people worldwide causing marked morbidity and mortality (Haseeb et al., 2002). Schistosomiasis affected over 200 million people in 74 countries and territories worldwide (WHO, 1999) causing several chronic complications. Both were incriminated to predispose or accompanied human hepatitis and predisposed to HCV (Wahib et al., 2006). Most zoonotic helminthes induced immune response (Nutman, 2001) characterized by producing of type 2 cytokines, Ig G1, IgG2, IgE antibodies and eosinophil and mast cell activation (Hoffman et al., 2002). Treatment of fascioliasis required high or drug multiple doses with side effect (Farid et al., 1990). In schistosomiasis, praziquantel (PZQ) in use for > 20 years was faced with low efficacy (Leishout et al., 1998), or with increased resistance (Coles et al., 1986; Watt et al., 1988; Herrera et al., 1994; Ismail et al., 1994; 1999; Tonelli et al., 1995; Stelma et al., 1995; Fallon et al., 1997; Bennett et al., 1997; Boisier et al., 1998; Periera et al., 1998; Kusel and Hagan, 1999; Liang et al., 2000; King et al., 2000; N'Goran et al., 2003; Raso et al., 2004), potentiality of carcinogenicity, genotoxicity (Rosenkranz et al., 1995), mutagenicity (Montero et al., 1993), big dose lethality and enhanced clastogenicity of environmental pollutants (Anwar, 1994). On the other hand, Nomicos (2007) in USA reported that since antiquity, the genus Commiphora is composed of more than 200 species, and exploited as a natural drug to treat pain, skin infections, inflammatory conditions, diarrhea, and periodontal diseases. He added that in more recent history, products derived from C. myrrha and various other species of Commiphora are becoming recognized to possess significant antiseptic, anesthetic, and antitumor properties. Traditional practice and evidence-based research have supported that these properties are directly attributable to terpenoids (especially furanoses-quiterpenes), the active compounds present in myrrh essential oil. Very recently, current studies have focused on applying clinical trial methodologies to validate its use as an antineoplastic, an antiparasitic agent, and as an adjunct in healing wounds. Weeks and Simpson (2007) in USA presented the molecular phylogeny of Commiphora, a predominantly tropical African, arid-adapted tree genus to test the monophyly of its taxonomic sections and to identify clades to help direct future study of this species-rich and geographically widespread taxon. The multiple fossil calibrations of Commiphora phylogeny proved that it is sister to Vietnamese Bursera tonkinensis and that its crown group radiation corresponds with the onset of the Miocene. Auffray (2007) in France studied the impact of two types of antioxidant on sebum squalene peroxidation by UV irradiation. The first type was free radical scavenger (Butyl hydroxyl toluene and an olive extract rich in hydroxytyrosol). The second type was the essential oil of C. myrrha, a singlet oxygen quencher. These properties were confirmed using the 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl test for anti-radical capacity and 1,3-diphenylisobenzofuran test for the capacity to quench singlet oxygen. Also, the author extended an ex vivo method to classify the efficacy of cosmetics to protect squalene by collecting sebum in vivo and irradiating it in a controlled way. The squalene monohydroperoxide formation was monitored by high performance liquid chromatography. This method compared the efficiency of 3 antioxidants at 0.6% in a cosmetic formulation to protect squalene from photo oxidation. The data showed that essential oil of C. myrrha gave the best protection against squalene peroxidation, and that squalene peroxidation during solar exposure was mainly because of singlet oxygen and not due to free radical attack, and that sun care cosmetics should make use not only of free radical scavengers but also of singlet oxygen quenchers. This study aimed to review more than 70 out of hundreds papers (Pub-med-indexed for Medline) on the medical importance and safety of Commiphora molmol and other Commiphora species.

PMID:
19209761
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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