Benzoin essential oil comes from the resin of the benzoin tree, a plant that belongs to the family Styracaceae. It is native to Southeast Asia. It has a grey bark with white bell-shaped flowers. Two of the most commonly used varieties are the Siam benzoin or Styrax tonkinensis and Sumatra benzoin or Styrax benzoin.
Siam benzoin has a sweet balsamic woody scent with a hint of vanilla. Its resin has a reddish yellow outer color with a milky white color inside. It is mainly used as a flavor for food and in cosmetics and perfume. The Sumatra benzoin has a reddish or grayish brown color with a sweet to spicy balsamic aroma. This variety is more favored in the field of pharmaceuticals for its many medicinal properties over the Siam benzoin.
Benzoin essential oil is extracted from the resin produced by its tree bark. The resin is harvested from the tree after it matures, which is about seven years. The key components of benzoic gum are benzoic acid, cinnamic acid, vanillin, and benzyl benzoate. Benzoic acid gives the oil its distinct scent well the phenylpropiolic acid gives it the balsamic note. Cinnamic acid gives the benzoin oil a honey-like scent while vanillin provides the hint of vanilla to the oil. The highest quality of oil comes from the Siam benzoin variety.
History of the Use of Benzoin
Benzoin gum is one of the most traded commodity in ancient times. The powdered form of the resin was used in incenses by ancient Greeks and Romans. The Mayas use its scent to drive away evil spirits and is a common element during religious rituals.
In the 15th century, the powdered form of the gum is used in making perfumes. This powder was later called the “incense from Java” which was also used to treat several illnesses including bronchitis. It was the famous prophet Nostradamus who classified the resin as a treatment for various skin infections.
Benefits of Using Benzoin Essential Oil
For unblemished skin
Benzoin essential oil is a known moisturizer which helps keep the skin healthy and hydrated. And when the skin is healthy, it gives a more youthful appearance. Its ability to increase the elasticity of the skin reduces the appearance of the different signs of aging, such as fine lines and wrinkles.
The astringent property of benzoin essential oil is what makes it an excellent toner to get rid of microbes and pollutants on the skin. For people who have bad sunburns, benzoin oil can help sooth and relieve the pain that comes with it.
Relief for respiratory problems
The oil’s antibacterial and antiviral properties make it effective in curing coughs and colds. It is why benzoin is a typical ingredient in balms and rubs. It also acts as an expectorant. An expectorant gets rid of any excess mucus that can harbor infectious bacteria in the body.
Mixing a few drops of benzoin and eucalyptus essential oil in a diffuser can promote better breathing and clear up the sinus.
Benzoin oil’s anti-inflammatory property can relieve muscle and joint pain. When applied on the skin, the oil is easily absorbed through the pores. The oil can be blended with frankincense essential oil and massage oil for a greater feeling of relief.
For oral care
Benzoin oil can be used to care for the teeth and gums. Its antimicrobial property kills harmful bacteria in the mouth that causes bad breath. It helps reduce the swelling of the gums and keep it tight and healthy.
For the mind and spirit
The oil is both a sedative and a stimulant. Benzoin oil has been long used for its ability to calm the mind and drive out evil spirits. Nowadays, it is mostly used with massage oils, which helps ease stress and create a positive atmosphere. It can uplift the mood and help relieve anxiety. The oil’s tranquilizing effect can be used by people suffering from insomnia. It can also alleviate tension and nervousness.
For cuts and wounds
Benzoin essential oil inhibits the growth of infectious bacteria on cuts and wounds which prevents the development of sepsis. The oil’s benzaldehyde, benzoic acid, and benzyl benzoate content give the oil its antimicrobial, germicidal, and antiviral properties.
Benzoin oil helps relieve abdominal pain caused by excessive gas in the stomach and intestines. It helps relax the walls of the digestive tract to help pass out the gas.
Removes unwanted odor
The oil’s aromatic nature and ability to kill bacteria makes it a good deodorant thanks to the presence of the benzene ring in the oil. It can be diffused, mixed in bathwater, or diluted in massage oils.
Lowers blood sugar
Benzoin essential oil can stimulate the secretion of hormones in the body. This includes insulin, which is known to lower the blood sugar level of the body.
Benzoin essential oil’s diuretic property helps in removing toxins in the body by promoting frequent urination. This also helps in lowering blood pressure and improving digestion.
Safety Tips and Precautions
Benzoin can be safely ingested in amounts found in food, but it may be unsafe when used in medicinal amounts and can cause stomach bleeding.
Benzoin essential oil can be safely applied topically if no allergic reaction takes place after a skin patch test. Always dilute the oil in carrier oil before applying in the skin. Avoid using on children ages 4 and below.
Using benzoin essential oil is not recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women.