mverive wrote:Let me preface this comment with the fact that I am a physician and former chemist in the flavor and fragrance industry...
There are many products that are called onymyrrh(e), with a wide variety of ingredients. The name Onymyrrh comes from "ony" which refers to nails, and "myrrh" which is actually a tree resin, related to frankincense, and is one of the three gifts mentioned in the Bible that the wise men brought with them to give to Jesus (gold, frankincense and myrrh). Myrrh contains many terpenes, sesquiterpenes, and other aromatic compounds, and is fairly bitter (the name myrrh is a variant of the Arabic word "murr" which means bitter). Terpenes and related compounds have double bonds that are readily oxidized, making them antioxidants. Many of these compounds have additional oxygen containing subunits that allow them to covalently bond to proteins such as the keratin in hair and nails, which explains their use in hair and nail products.
Myrrh probably protects nails (and hair) by bonding to protein and partly by antioxidant properties, but the bitterness of myrrh also helps prevent damage from biting, which many of us do by habit. Biting not only causes physical trauma to nails at the biting site, but causes cleavage along the body of the nail, which is lamellar (layers). For those of us with longitudinal ridges, biting also leads to lengthwise splitting of the nail.
Many onymyrrh products also contain various lacquers, enamels, and other artificial nail strengthening/bonding agents, so you have to read the label carefully so that you know what you're getting.
Hoof and nail products often contain heavy oils, lanolin, simethicone, and other substances that can keep nails from drying out, which causes nails to become brittle and causes the keratin layers to separate. Since wet nails are prone to fungal infection, it helps that many natural oils contain terpenes, sesquiterpenes and related chemicals, which inhibit growth of fungi, bacteria, and viruses. One of the main ingredients in Listerine is thymol, a terpene.
One additional ingredient that I see in various hoof/nail products (and some lip balms) is allantoin, a substance found in comfrey, urine, and other biologic sources. Allantoin is produced by oxidation of uric acid, and bonds fairly tightly to skin and nails, and has some anti-ulcer effect. It has been shown to be helpful in wound healing, although there is little research into its use in treating or preventing nail disease.
So, in summary, much of what is sold as onymyrrh(e) contains no myrrh whatsoever, but other compounds designed to strenghten nails and protect them from breakage. Since the composition of commercial onymyrrh(e) products is so variable, it is no wonder that response to these products is variable as well.
Hope that this information is useful.
Thank you very much for such detailed information. However, it seems that neither product has myrrh in it's ingredients.
For Hard As Hoof, it says:
Purified Water, Aloe Vera Concentrate, Jojoba Oil, Aloe Vera Oil, Glycerin, Glyceryl Stearate, Bees Wax, Hydrolyzed Protein, Calcium Pantothenate, Allantoin, Liposomes, Vitamins A, C, D, & E, DI-Panthenol, Natural Fragrance, Methyl Paraben, Probyl Paraben
For Mane 'n Tail Hoofmaker, it says:
Water/Aqua/Eau, Distearyldimonium Chloride, Cetyl Alcohol, Stearyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine Lactate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Polysorbate 60, Steareth-20, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, DMDM Hydantoin, Fragrance (Parfum), Methylparaben, Lanolin, PEG-150 Stearate, Propylparaben, Hydrolyzed Collagen Protein, PEG-25 Castor Oil, Sodium Chloride, Allantoin, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Yellow #5 (CI 19140), Yellow #6 (CI 15985), Benzyl Benzoate, Benzyl Salicylate, Citronellol, Geraniol, Hexyl Cinnamal, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Limonene, Linalool, Hydroxyisohexyl-3-Cyxlohexene Carboxaldehyde.
So... I guess these are no good? How the heck do I find a product that contains myrrh?