MONDAY, Dec. 21, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- The resin of trees in the Middle East -- known as myrrh -- may help lower "bad" cholesterol, new research suggests.
The study author explained that myrrh resin could be used in conjunction with other plant materials to boost heart health, although it's not clear yet how people might consume it, and more research is needed.
In the study, published in the most recent quarterly issue of the International Journal of Food Safety, Nutrition and Public Health, Nadia Saleh Al-Amoudi from King Abd Al-Aziz University in Saudi Arabia noted that myrrh has long been used as a medicinal treatment for sore throats, congestion, and cuts and burns.
The researcher fed myrrh resin, among other plant materials, to albino rats, and found that levels of "bad" cholesterol fell and levels of "good" cholesterol went up while the rodents were on the diet.
Myrrh, an ointment and an ingredient in incense, is best known as one of the gifts of the Magi, along with gold and frankincense, described in the New Testament.
Learn more about cholesterol levels from the American Heart Association.