BENZOIN: A RAVISHING RESINOUS OIL
- Benzoin is a resin that is derived from the bark of several species of trees in the genus Styrax.
- It is used as a common ingredient in incense-making and perfumery.
- Benzoin essential oil contains a range of chemical compounds that contributes to the oil's scent and healing properties.
- While benzoin is often recommended for topical use, it is important to know that it is highly concentrated.
- It's scent is highly versatile and compliments variety of other scents in many essential oil collections.
OVERVIEW OF BENZOIN ESSENTIAL OIL
You may be in for a surprise when you smell benzoin essential oil for the very first time, because it smells a lot like vanilla. This concentrated resinous oil is extracted from the gum resin of the benzoin tree (Styrax benzoin), which mainly grows in Malaysia, Indonesia, Sumatra and Java. The tree is tapped and when it exudes gum resin, it is used to create the oil. Benzoin trees are known to produce resin in this way for 15-20 years. These trees can grow up to 50 feet tall as they are native to tropical regions. When a benzoin tree is around seven years old, its bark can be tapped, much like a maple tree to collect the sap. The resin is harvested as a gum from the tree, also by making a small cut in the bark, and the tree oozes the sap/resin out. Once the crude tree resin is hardened, a solvent is added to extract the benzoin essential oil. Benzoin essential oil offers more than just nice smell. Often mentioned in aromatherapy guides, benzoin has an uplifting, warm scent that reminds many people of vanilla. It is a great addition to any medicine cabinet due its variety of medicinal properties, which we will further discuss in detail.
HISTORY OF BENZOIN ESSENTIAL OIL
While benzoin essential oil is popular today for its vanilla scent and other medicinal properties, it has actually been around for ages. Praised for its strong scent of vanilla and balsam, it is believed that ancient papyrus records state that benzoin resin was traded to China and Egypt across the Red Sea. Back then, the resin was typically ground into a powder with other aromatic materials such as pine, juniper, and cypress, which was then turned into incense. It is also believed that the Sultan of Egypt would send it as gifts to the Doge of Venice and the Queen of Cyprus.
The usage of benzoin resin can be traced back to Ancient Romans and Greeks, where benzoin was used in incense and potpourri. The resin was a common element in religious ceremonies as well, where Maya used benzoin aromatically as they believed it could drive away evil spirits.
Later, benzoin is known to have made its way to England in 15th century. It was brought over by the traders in powdered form, which was used in perfumes worn by Queen Elizabeth I. Known as the 'Incense from Java', it was then started to be used for therapeutic purposes. Even Nostradamus, the world famous French astrologer, classified benzoin as a tonic for skin infections in 1556.
BENZOIN ESSENTIAL OIL BENEFITS & USES
In modern times, the benzoin essential oil is known to be used medicinally for treatment of wounds, cuts and blisters. Also, the consistency of the resin makes it ideal for its addition to cough and throat lozenges, along with certain cosmetic products. It is also known to be a common addition to perfumes, due to its sweet vanilla scent. While these are some of the most common uses of benzoin essential oil, it is also known to provide certain benefits to the mind and body.
The oil is known to contain antimicrobial and disinfectant properties which can prevent infection in minor wounds and scratches. Benzoin oil is also known to be used in mouthwash, to clean the mouth and kill the bacteria that causes bad breath. It is also believed to have astringent properties which help tighten gums and reduce the swelling. Using benzoin oil, along with good oral hygiene can help keep the mouth clean and fresh.
Benzoin essential oil not only helps you feel better, it is also believed to help you look better. It is known to be highly versatile when it comes to cosmetic skin care. The astringent properties mentioned earlier, can also prove to be highly effective as a toner. The benzoin oil is known to reduce the appearance and size of pores while cleaning the skin and also getting rid of the harmful microbes. It is also known to prevent moisture loss and thus keep your skin hydrated. A hydrated skin is the one that retains your complexion and gives you a healthy look. Similarly, some of the components of benzoin essential oil are also believed to boost the elasticity of the skin to maintain a spry appearance. This is also known to help reduce the wrinkles and fine lines.
Similar to many other essential oils, benzoin essential oil is known to be effective in treatment of coughs and common cold. It supposedly heals the respiratory difficulties by removing the excess mucus that may cause infection. Benzoin essential oil is known to possess anti-inflammatory properties that can help alleviate pain caused due to swollen joints and muscle stiffness.
As mentioned earlier, the benzoin essential oil is known to provide healing effects for not just the body but also for the mind. Apparently, this oil has been used for thousands of years for its healing effects on the mind. Today, it is commonly used in yoga and massage therapy to calm your mind and body. Benzoin essential oil may also relieve anxiety and nervousness by bringing the neurotic system back to normal.
BENZOIN ESSENTIAL OILS – CHEMICAL COMPONENTS & PROPERTIES
Styrax benzoin is acrid, impressively aromatic and has strong vanilla like smell. Main components of Styrax benzoin are benzaldehyde, benzoic acid, benzyl benzoate, cinnamic acid and vanillin. The vanilla scent of the plant is due to vanillin. Benzoic acid, named from the benzoin tree, provides the oil with its signature scent. The phenilpropiolic acid in benzoin adds a balsamic note to the oil's aroma, while benzaldehyde adds an almond note. The cinnamates present in the cinnamic acid is used as a flavouring agent and produce chocolate-like flavor. The benzyl benzoate is commonly used medicinally and can be a strong insect repellent.
All these variety of chemical compounds constitute the various properties and subsequent benefits of the benzoin essential oil as discussed earlier.
To learn more about the unique chemical makeup of different essential oils and how they can enhance a sense of well-being, check out our articles on Essential Oil Benefits and Categories of Essential Oils & Their Benefits. Be sure to browse our Essential Oil product pages for more information on the oils that catch your interest.
CONTRAINDICATIONS FOR ESSENTIAL OILS
As with all NDA products, the essential oils mentioned in this article are for external use only. Due to the highly concentrated nature of essential oils, they must be diluted with a carrier oil prior to topical use. We recommend consulting a medical practitioner prior to using any essential oil for therapeutic purposes, particularly for those who are pregnant, nursing, or who have a pre-existing medical condition.
Possible side effects from use of essential oils include irritation or allergic reaction from topical use. To reduce the risk of adverse reaction, a skin patch test should be performed before prior to using the oil. The test can be performed by diluting 1 drop of essential oil in 4 drops of carrier oil and applying a dime-sized amount of the blend to a small area of skin that is not known to be sensitive. In the event of an adverse reaction, discontinue use of the product and see a medical healthcare professional for appropriate remedial action. Certain essential oils may pose additional risks depending on individual health and medical history. To prevent side effects, it is best to consult with a physician prior to use.
Essential oils must not be used near the eyes, inner nose, ears or on any areas of the skin that are known to be sensitive. They should always be stored in an area that is inaccessible to children, particularly those under the age of 7.
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