Styrax benzoin or simply benzoin is a gum resin derived from the bark of the styrax benzoin tree. Once it has solidified, the resin can be burned releasing a pleasant sweet, vanilla type fragrance. Benzoin is a popular incense especially in Asian countries but it can also be used for a variety of health purposes.
If you would like to find out more about benzoin and what exactly it can do for your health, please read on.
What is Styrax Benzoin?
Styrax benzoin can either refer to the resin extracted from the tree or to the tree itself. Other names for the plant include benjamin tree, gum benjamin, Sumatra benzoin and gum benzoin.
The plant was originally native to Indonesian island of Sumatra but now grows wild in tropical rain forests in other parts of Asia including Cambodia, Thailand, China and Vietnam. The plant is cultivated in Indonesia for its resin which is used in incense, by the cosmetics industry and and for various health reasons.
The Styrax benzoin tree is an evergreen that grows to a height of ten meters with brown or gray colored bark. The leaves are oval and measure around 5 inches in length and around 2 inches in width. The tree produces fragrant, white, bell-shaped flowers that form in clusters.
The resin is extracted from incisions in the bark. It is this resin which is used to make incense and herbal medicine.
- The majority of benzoin resin is produced in Indonesia.
- When the bark is cut, benzoin is initially collected in the form of a milky white substance. This solidifies into a firm resin when exposed to the air.
- It has long been used for its delightful, sweet fragrance which people find comforting and soothing.
- The use of the resin as incense dates back centuries and was believed to ward off evil spirits.
- Benzoin resin is used to make church incense in Russia and many other christian countries.
- The resin is also used in many South east Asian countries as an incense and is especially popular in China, Japan and India.
- In India, it is used to treat and scent the hair and to prevent infections.
- It is also a popular ingredient in cosmetics, toiletries and soap.
- The aroma is sweet and reminiscent of camphor, vanilla and cinnamon.
- A popular essential oil is made with benzoin resin.
- Benzoin resin is also used to prevent fat from spoiling and becoming rancid.
- As well as its fragrant uses, benzoin resin may have a number of potential health benefits.
Health Benefits of Styrax Benzoin
Styrax benzoin resin contains a number of useful compounds which confer a variety of health uses. Among its major constituents are benzoic acid, benzoic acid ester, cinnamon acid ester, styrol, styracin, vanillin, benzaldehyde and phenyl-prophyl cinnamate.
When used medicinally, benzoin resin is typically used in the form of an essential oil or as a tincture. The tincture is made by dissolving it in alcohol and has a sticky, viscous consistency.
For Colds and Coughs
Styrax benzoin has natural, disinfectant and expectorant properties making it a good herbal remedy for throat infection, coughs and other respiratory ailments. Several commercial cold and cough medications use the resin as an ingredient.
As a Mouthwash for Oral Issues
The antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties in the resin makes it a great natural remedy for a wide range of oral conditions
You can make a mouthwash with the benzoin tincture to help treat a variety of conditions affecting the mouth including thrush, gingivitis, inflammation in the mouth, cold sores and canker sores. Dentists also sometimes use the resin to help disinfect the mouth and to ease inflammation following a tooth extraction.
Styrax benzoin resin is also commonly used as an ingredient in various skin care products. Its antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties make it a useful natural treatment for various skin complaints such as rashes, eczema and swelling. It can also be applied to minor wounds, cuts or bites to speed up healing and protect against infection.
For Stress and Anxiety
Benzoin resin has long been used for its calming and soothing fragrance. inhaling the resin can give you a feeling of calm and well-being and may help combat feelings of stress and anxiety.
Benzoin essential oil is one of a number of essential oils that can have a significantly positive impact on the mind. Unlike many pharmaceutical products, this oil is natural and safe to use and does not come with the risk of side effects that many anti-anxiety medications bring.
Different people will react differently to scents but it is certainly worth diffusing benzoin oil through the home if you are feeling stress and anxious.
Because of its carminative properties, benzoin resin and essential oil may help calm the stomach and relieve common digestive complaints like bloating and flatulence. The effect on the digestive system is likely linked to the relaxing effects of the resin which can help relieve muscle tension in the abdomen.
Try diluting some benzoin essential oil with a carrier oil and massaging it into your abdomen when you are feeling bloated or full of gas.
Rheumatism and Arthritis
Benzoin resin has excellent anti-inflammatory properties making it a popular and effective natural remedy for joint pain caused by conditions like rheumatism and arthritis.
You can apply benzoin essential oil topically to your affected joints as long as it is diluted in a carrier oil before you apply it. Benzoin resin is also found as an ingredient in balms and other products used to treat arthritis. It may also help treat other inflammatory conditions like muscle swelling, pain and gout.
Styrax benzoin is a popular ingredient in soaps and toiletries because of its wonderful fragrance. You could also try adding a few drops of benzoin oil to your bath water and letting it soak into your skin to keep body odor at bay. As well as making you smell good, the antibacterial properties in the oil can kill the bacteria responsible for causing body odor.
Freshens the Air
As well as its uses for the body and mind, benzoin resin is a great way to expel unwanted odors from your home. It has a wonderful scent that can help cover up unwanted smells from pets, smoking, cooking and other air pollutants.
Precautions and Side Effects
- Styrax benzoin resin is non-toxic but there are certain safety precautions to be aware of.
- You should dilute benzoin oil before applying it to your skin.
- It should not be overused since there is a risk of small hypersensitivity occurring.
- The scent may cause drowsiness when inhaled in high doses.
- Make sure you speak to your doctor before use, if you are in any way concerned.
- Styrax benzoin is a tree. The bark of the tree is cut in order to extract a resin called benzoin.
- Benzoin resin has a number of potential health benefits.
- It can be used to treat colds, coughs, oral inflammation and ulcers.
- When inhaled, benzoin resin can help promote a feeling of calm and well-being.
- Benzoin is available in the form of tinctures and essential oil and is also found in a variety of other products including toiletries, soaps and perfumes.