An ancient resin, traditionally used as a perfume or embalming fluid, has been found effective in lowering cholesterol levels if taken as a food supplement, according to researchers.
Best known as one of the gifts of the Three Wise Men offered to the infant Jesus, Myrrh is a rust-coloured resin obtained from several species of Commiphora and Balsamodendron trees, native to the Middle East and Ethiopia.
According to Nadia Saleh Al-Amoudi, from King Abd Al-Aziz University in Saudi Arabia, myrrh has long been used as a medicinal treatment for sore throats, congestion, and cuts and burns.
During the study, the research team fed myrrh resin, among other plant materials, to albino rats.
They found that levels of "bad" cholesterol fell and levels of "good" cholesterol went up while the rodents were on the diet.
The new study might open new avenues for fighting high cholesterol, a health problem that is closely linked with the rise in obesity.
"Of all nutrients, fat is implicated most often as a contributing factor to disease," the Telegraph quoted the researchers as saying.