Essential Oil of the Week: Benzoin Styrax
Benzoin oil has a sweet, warm and vanilla-like aroma and is golden brown in color, with a treacle-like viscosity.
The essential oil is extracted from the Styrax Benzoin tree, which is from Java, Sumatra and Thailand and grows to 8 meters (20 feet). Deep incisions are made in the trunk of the tree, from which the grayish colored sap exudes. When the resinous lump becomes hard and brittle, it is collected from the bark.
Benzoin, also known as gum Benjamin, is one of the classic ingredients of incense. In ancient civilizations it was used in fumigation and it is also an ingredient of 'Friar's balsam', an aid to respiratory problems. It is also used as a fixative in the perfume industry.
The therapeutic properties of benzoin oil include the following; antiseptic, anti-depressant, astringent, anti-inflammatory, carminative, cordial, deodorant, diuretic, expectorant, sedative and vulnerary.
Benzoin oil's greatest benefit lies in that it has a calming effect on the nervous and digestive systems, a warming effect on circulation problems and a toning effect on the respiratory tract.
It furthermore boosts the pancreas, which in turns helps digestion, and is thought to be involved in controlling blood sugar, which makes it valuable for sufferers of diabetes.
The effect it has on the skin is to improve elasticity, helping cracked skin, while aiding the healing of sores and wounds and at the same time reducing redness, irritation and itching.