For thousands of years benzoin has been used in the East for incense and in medicinal preparations. Here in the West it was commonly known as gum benjamin or Friar’s Balsam and the extract was cut in alcohol and used for respiratory complaints. Now a days the gum is used as a fixative for potpourris and as a preservative in cosmetics and lotions. Its most notable properties are anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, carminative, deodorant, sedative and diuretic.
Benzoin is extracted by making a cut in the bark of the Styrax benzoin tree and catching the resin as it oozes out. It then must be dissolved in alcohol to bring benzoin into a liquid form. Benzoin is found mostly in Sumatra or Thailand, each having slightly different constituents, therefore having slightly different healing properties.
As mentioned before, benzoin is a fixative and can be used to strengthen and intensify other essential oils by adding it to the formula. It is wonderful for stress related complaints and nervous tension, especially when mixed with jasmine, rose or some of the other woods like frankincense and sandalwood. Its carminative properties warm and tone the heart, both physically and emotionally in that benzoin creates a soothing, comforting place where tensions melt away. Benzoin seems to take the mind to a safe place, away from the hustle and bustle of the outside world, a place where the heart and mind can co-create peace and joy. On the physical level, this calming essential oil regulates the circulatory system, balancing and toning the heart muscle and creating ease through the arteries. It also eases muscle tension by reducing inflammation and detoxifying acids from the joints. Good for arthritis, gout and poor circulation, benzoin penetrates deep into the tissue encourages waste products to be released, relieving pain and swelling.
Benzoin is also noted for helping the respiratory system. In easing asthma, soothing bronchitis, reducing chills and subduing coughs, this oil is best used rubbed on the chest or inhaled in steam. When inhaled the droplets of oil go deep into the lung tissue and kill off bacteria and other evils that lurk there. It is able to release mucus and insight expectoration.
Skin repair is another positive attribute that benzoin brings to health care. It heals chapped, irritated skin, dermatitis and cleanses cuts, encouraging faster scabbing with little scarring. Its antioxidant qualities make it perfect for skin rejuvenation and renewed cell growth.
In psycho-spiritual use, benzoin brings in the warmth of the sun. Light a stick of incense or burn some benzoin in an aroma lamp and lie back, imagining yourself lazing around in the sun, feeling the heat going deep into the very essence of your being. Imagine your tensions melt, a euphoric sense replacing the worries and headaches of your busy mental body. Imagine your heart opening to the joys of creation, to the internal love of self, to the idea of self-acceptance and self-honor. Imagine yourself in peace and tranquility with your surroundings… Sounds good? Well, benzoin can stimulate the mind to be in this kind of uplifting contented place that feels like a sunny day with nothing to do. Benzoin’s gift is one of quietude and internal self-being. Enjoy it.