Benzoin oil is the gum resin extract from sap in Styrax Benzoin trees that are commercially grown in Malaysia, Java, Siam and Sumatra. Benzoin oil has been used for thousands of years as an aromatic incense and fumigator for religious ceremonies as well as for its medicinal qualities as an antidepressant and disinfectant. 1,3
Benzoin oil is known by various names like Benjamin oil, benjamin gum, oil of ben, styrax oil, storax, and luban-jawi. The two most popular forms of benzoin oil available today are classified as Siam and Sumatra. Both contain the active ingredient compounds benzyl benzoate, benzyl alcohol, benzoic acid and ethyl cinnamate however benzoin oil from Sumatra contains a higher level of cinnamic acid that makes it more powerful and potentially more toxic. 3
Benzoin oil is produced by tapping the styrax benzoin trees and letting the sap run off to form a thick, golden brown paste. This resin dries to a dark reddish color and is diluted with a solvent. The resinoid is then cleaned and processed as a high-viscosity oil or dried into a powder. These two forms are known as simple and compound benzoin oil with the dried form of benzoin oil being too strong for direct application on skin whereas the liquid form is considered an essential oil for health purposes. 2,3
Benzoin oil is very recognizable for its vanilla smell and taste. This comes from the compound vanillin contained in small but powerful amounts in benzoin oil. In early Arabic cultures, benzoin oil was burned in temples to give an inviting aroma. It became a highly desirable and valuable trading spice and was often mixed with frankincense and myrrh. 1
Benzoin Oil Health Uses and Health Benefits
Benzoin oil uses are primarily an aromatic essential oil that is burned or diffused as well as being ingested for therapeutic effects. These include offering benzoin oil health benefits such as antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, astringent, anti-rheumatic, deodorant, diuretic, vulnerary, and expectorant. 3
Benzoin oil health benefits include treatment for:
Benzoin Oil Side Effects and Precautions
Benzoin oil side effects can be serious because in a purified state it is quite toxic. Inhalation or ingestion of the product at full-strength can cause benzoin oil side effects like nausea, vomiting and headaches as well as contributing to a lack of oxygen in the blood.
When using benzoin oil for acne treatment, it should not be applied to any cut or open skin wound as it can have a severely irritating and burning effect.
The recommended dilution for benzoin oil is 2% for ingestion. It blends well with many other essential oils but should not be mixed in a bath. Benzoin oil is not water soluble and will separate from water causing a brownish stain to a tub that’s difficult to remove. 3