Styrax Resin, Gum Benzoin, Gum Benjamin
South East Asia
The resin and oil of the Benzoin tree has been cherished throughout history. It was deemed equally important as the more expensive and exotic Frankincense and Myrrh. With a strong, sweet, and balsamic scent, Benzoin was beloved by ancient royalty. It appears on ancient Egyptian papyrus records showing that it was traded across the Red Sea to Asia.
It has a long history of medicinal use as a tonic for skin infections and to provide relief from respiratory conditions such as asthma and bronchitis. Nowadays it is used in cough lozenges and is a common ingredient in perfumes. Like Frankincense and Myrrh, Benzoin resin has a long history of use as a medicine and incense especially in the East. It is a main ingredient in 'Friar's Balsam', which is used as an expectorant and topical antiseptic.
Benzoin benefits the skin in many ways. It is antimicrobial, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and astringent. It accelerates the healing of wounds, ulcers and relieves eczema, psoriasis and rashes.
Essential oil of Benzoin is a common ingredient in skin care products. It protects the skin by forming an invisible film which prevents moisture loss, improves elasticity and promotes smooth and supple skin.
It can also be used on an itchy scalp, helping to prevent and treat dandruff and give the hair a glossy shine.
Benzoin resin incense can be burned to promote emotional balance, soothe away sadness, grief and anger. With an earthy, balsamic scent and sweet vanilla undertones, It is said to melt away blockages and open up the heart.
Conversely, this beautiful incense is also energising and uplifting, promoting focus and concentration.
With natural expectorant properties, Benzoin essential oil can be inhaled to drive out phlegm and provide relief from congestion in the respiratory tract. Its disinfectant properties will also help to draw out bacteria that cause infections such as coughs and colds.
If coughing is keeping you awake at night, a few drops of Benzoin essential oil on your pillow can help you sleep by dampening the cough reflex and helping you relax.
Massaging a dilution of Benzoin essential oil into the abdomen exerts a powerful carminative effect, helping to eliminate excess gas from the stomach and intestines. It stimulates the production of the gastric juices that are necessary for healthy digestion whilst calming and toning the digestive tract.
Benzoin Incense Resin
Use a couple of crystals of Benzoin resin to burn on charcoal.
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 Benzoin is collected as a milky-white substance, but as it is exposed to air and sunlight the resin solidifies. Once solidified, the resin takes the form of small crystalline stones that are used as incense. It releases a sweet, balsamic lightly vanilla odour.
Gum Benzoin is a major component of incense used in Russian Orthodox churches and other Orthodox Christian societies. It is also used in blended types of Japanese incense, Indian incense, Chinese incense and Papier d'Arménie. When called sambrani or sambraani, it is a popular Indian incense used to scent and treat hair and prevent infections.
Its principle component is benzoic acid.