Common: Name Benzoin
Scientific Name: Styrax benzoin
Sumatra, Java and Malaysia (‘sumatra benzoin’). Loas, Vietnam, Cambodia, China,
and Thailand (‘siam benzoin’)
Synonyms: Gum benzoin, gum benjamin
Oil Properties and Characteristics
tropical tree found in Thailand and adjacent islands. It has pale green citrus
like leaves, whitish underneath, bearing hard-shelled flattish fruit about the
size of a nutmeg. Benzoin is a pathological product, formed when the trunk is
cut; the tree exudes the balsamic resin which hardens upon exposure to air and
are many different varieties within the Styrax family which produce benzoin,
but these are generally classified under either Sumatra benzoin (S.
paralleloneurus) or Botanical Siam benzoin (S. tonkinensis).
crude benzoin occurs as greyish-brown brittle lumps with reddish streaks, with
a styrax-like odour. Siam benzoin comes in pebble or tear-shaped orange-brown
pieces, with a sweet balsamic vanilla-like scent, this type having a more
refined odour than the Sumatra type.
Strictly speaking Benzoin is not an essential oil, as it is a pure resin which needs to be melted with heat before it can be used.
has been used for thousands of years in the east as a medicine and incense; the
fumigations were believed to drive away evil spirits. It was used by the
Chinese herbalists for its heating and drying qualities, as a good urinary
antiseptic and as an aid in digestion.
In the west, it is best known in the form of compound tincture of benzoin or Friars Balsam, used for respiratory complaints.
Crude benzoin is collected from the trees directly. Benzoin resinoid, or ‘resin absolute’, is prepared from the crude using solvents, for example benzene and alcohol which are then removed. Commercial benzene is usually sold dissolved in ethyl glycol or a similar solvent. A ‘true’ absolute is also produced in small quantities.
Benzoin: mainly coniferyl cinnamate and sumaresinolic acid, with benzoic acid,
cinnamic acid, and traces of styrene, vanillin and benzaldehyde.
Siam Benzoin: mainly coniferyl benzoate (65-75 per cent), with benzoic acid, vanillin, siaresinolic acid and cinnamyl benzoate.
During Use (Contraindications)
Benzoin is non-toxic, non-irritant, possible sensitisation.
therapeutic properties of benzoin oil include: Anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant,
antiseptic and astringent. It is soothing, warming and stimulating.
warming properties make it a valuable oil for use to help fend off winter
ailments. It is also useful for helping people get through various life crises
Disclaimer: This information has been provided in good will and is considered to be correct at the time of writing (1st Jan 2005). Visitors should ensure they consult a medical practitioner if they are unsure about the use of essential oils.