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Essential Oils

Benzoin Essential Oil – Beloved by Ancient Royalty

Benzoin resin, from which the essential oil is derived, has been used around the world for thousands of years. The warm, rich scent has made benzoin a common addition to perfumes and incense from ancient times to the modern ones.

In fact, benzoin oil was so cherished throughout history that it was often sent as a gift or used alongside valuable oils like frankincense and myrrh.

Benzoin essential oil offers more than a nice smell. The oil is a great addition to any medicine cabinet as it offers antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and stress-relieving properties. The scent of this essential oil is highly-versatile and nicely complements a variety of other scents in any essential oil collection.

 width= The History of Benzoin


The Styrax benzoin tree is native to tropical regions and can grow to be up to 50 feet tall. While the tree has distinctive leaves, pretty white flowers, and large seeds, the essential oil is derived from the resin of the tree. When a benzoin tree is around seven years old, the bark can be “tapped” much like a maple tree would be for its syrup. The sap from this tree is often referred to as gum or resin. Once the crude tree resin has hardened, a solvent is added to extract the benzoin essential oil.

Benzoin is praised for its strong scent reminiscent of vanilla and balsam. Ancient papyrus records inform us that benzoin resin was traded to China and Egypt across the Red Sea. The resin was typically ground into a powder with other aromatic materials such as pine, cypress, and juniper, then turned into incense. Additionally, the Sultan of Egypt sent gifts of benzoin to the Doge of Venice and the Queen of Cyprus.

Ancient Greeks and Romans also used benzoin in incense and potpourri, while the Maya used benzoin aromatically as they believed it could drive away wicked spirits—the resin was a common element in religious ceremonies.

Benzoin made its way to England in the 15th century. Brought over by spice traders, the benzoin was ground into powder and used in perfumes worn by Queen Elizabeth I. Soon, the “incense from Java,” as it was called, began to be used therapeutically. Nostradamus, a Frenchman famous for prophesying the future, classified benzoin as a tonic for skin infections in 1556. The resin was also used to relieve congestion and bronchitis when burned.

In modern times, benzoin is used medicinally to treat wounds, cuts, and blisters. The consistency of the resin also makes it ideal for adding to a cough and throat lozenges, as well as to certain cosmetic products. The substance is also a common addition to perfumes.

Chemical Properties


Benzoin essential oil contains a range of chemical compounds that contribute to the oil’s scent and healing properties. Benzoic acid, named for the benzoin tree, provides the oil with its signature scent. The phenylpropiolic acid in benzoin adds a balsamic note to the oil’s aroma, while benzaldehyde adds an almond one.

You may think cinnamic acid would make benzoin oil smell like cinnamon, but it actually adds the scent of honey to the oil. Cinnamic acid can also provide chocolate flavors when used as a flavoring agent, as benzoin resin commonly is in Sweden and Denmark. 1 As the name suggests, the vanillin in this oil provides notes of vanilla.

The benzyl benzoate found in benzoin essential oil is commonly used medicinally and can be a strong insect repellent. The compound has also been found to relieve the symptoms of respiratory issues. 2

Uses for Benzoin Essential Oil


By far the most common use for benzoin resin or essential oil is as an addition to perfumes, incense, and potpourri. However, the oil can do so much more to heal the mind and the body. 3

Improves Appearance of Skin


Benzoin oil offers dual benefits for the skin, not only is it a great addition to your daily skincare routine, but it can remedy skin conditions should the need occur.

Benzoin essential oil is highly versatile when it comes to cosmetic skin care. The oil has astringent properties, which makes it highly effective as a toner. The oil can reduce the size and appearance of pores while cleaning the skin and ridding it of harmful microbes.

This essential oil can also prevent moisture loss, keeping your complexion looking healthy and hydrated. Additionally, some components of benzoin essential oil increase the elasticity of the skin to maintain a youthful appearance.

Additionally, benzoin oil is also known to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles because of its astringent properties. The oil works to tighten and lift the skin, making it appear younger. Simply mix a few drops of benzoin oil into your moisturizer or night cream to take advantage of its skin benefits.

In addition to helping the complexation, benzoin essential oil can treat skin conditions that may cause result in unwanted redness, skin flakiness, or rashes.

Due to its soothing and healing abilities, benzoin oil can speed up the healing process for painful and often unsightly sunburns. The oil can also reduce the discoloration caused by sunspots. Just be sure not to use the oil on the broken or blistered skin, as this it may cause irritation.

Prevents Infection


Benzoin essential oil doesn’t just help you look better, it can help you feel better too. The oil contains antimicrobial and disinfectant properties, meaning it can prevent infection in minor wounds and scrapes.

While not externally visible, the skin around the teeth and mouth also needs care. Benzoin oil can be a beneficial mouthwash as it cleans the whole mouth and kills the bacteria that can lead to bad breath. Additionally, its astringent properties help tighten gums and reduce swelling. Coupled with good oral hygiene, benzoin essential oil can stave off gum disease and keep the whole mouth healthy and feeling fresh.

Relieves Cold and Cough Symptoms


Like many antibacterial and antiviral essential oils, benzoin essential oil makes an effective treatment for coughs or the common cold. The oil can help heal respiratory symptoms while acting as an expectorant to rid the body of excess mucus that may cause infection. Furthermore, the oil not only helps the current problem but can eliminate the risk of future illness.

There are a few ways to use benzoin oil to treat respiratory issues. Try mixing a few drops into a room diffuser with eucalyptus essential oil. Breathe in the steam to open and cleanse the sinuses. Alternatively, benzoin oil makes a powerful chest rub that helps you sleep better and breathe easier. Simply mix the essential oil with a carrier oil or lotion, add some eucalyptus and lavender essential oils, and apply topically right before bed.

Alleviates Pain


Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, benzoin oil is a superstar at pain relief. Apply topically to swollen joints or stiff muscles for relief.

Try using benzoin essential oil in massage for a deeper, more effective way of relieving pain. Add in a few drops of frankincense essential oil for added benefits.

girl relaxing


Promotes Relaxation


It is clear that benzoin essential oil has amazing healing effects for the body, but the benefits of the oil do not stop there. Benzoin essential oil has been used for thousands of years for its ability to calm the mind and spirit, as well. In fact, ancient societies used the oil in their religious ceremonies to cast out evil spirits from the community and put everyone’s mind at ease.

Today, benzoin oil is commonly used in yoga or massage therapy to ground the mind and body. The oil is known to alleviate stress while promoting positive thinking and relaxation. Especially potent at bedtime, benzoin essential oil can help its users fall asleep and sleep deeply.

Try mixing the oil into a lotion and apply topically before bed or add a few drops to a room diffuser before bed.



Benzoin Infographic

Safety and Precautions


Benzoin oil has a range of great benefits when used as directed—be sure to read any labels on the product before using the oil for safe and effective use.

While benzoin is often recommended for topical use, it is important to keep in mind that the essential oil is highly concentrated. To avoid negative skin reactions, always dilute benzoin oil in a carrier oil or lotion like coconut, jojoba, or almond oils. Additionally, spot test the oil on a small patch of skin to make sure you don’t experience an allergic reaction. Avoid topical use on children under the age of four.

Adding many types of essential oils to a warm bath can create a truly relaxing experience. With its rich, sweet scent, you may be tempted to add benzoin oil to a bath. While this sounds great in theory, it won’t work very well in practice. Benzoin oil is heavier than other oils and can sink in water. Additionally, the oil is yellow in color and can stain the finish on your tub, so it’s best to limit aromatherapy with benzoin to incense or room diffuser or personal aromatherapy diffuser.

Use of benzoin essential oil is discouraged for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Conclusion


Benzoin oil has survived the test of time and continues to offer many uses in the present and future. More than just a sweet perfume, benzoin can be used medicinally, in beauty routines, and to soothe the mind. Now, the oil isn’t just for royalty anymore: its benefits can be enjoyed by everyone. Benzoin oil makes a great addition to any essential oil arsenal. Experiment with the many uses of benzoin essential oil to discover what works best for you.

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