Benzoin is a balsamic, vanilla-like resin distilled from the tropical shrubs of the genus Styrax. This resin has roots in early Arabia where the name benzoin means “incense from Sumatra”. This ancient exudate was used as medicine, incense, and perfume for thousands of years throughout the Mediterranean basin, Cyprus, India, Greece, and Java.
Its comforting aroma functioned as a fine fixative in fragrances and was a key component in perfumes past. This thick resinous essence is steam-distilled, which is a rare find as it is often available only as an absolute extraction. The oil may be enjoyed as a comforting euphoric-aroma wafting through your home, as a beneficial chest balm, and as skin serum for scars.
Botanical Name: Styrax benzoin
Botanical Family: Styracaceae
Extraction Method: Steam distilled
Part of Plant Distilled: Resin
Country of Origin: Indonesia
Cultivation Method: Organic
Famous as a fixative in perfumes and colognes; diffuse to create a warm and heartening aromatic atmosphere especially beneficial during cold season; use in baths to elevate emotions and relax nerves; lovely in massage oils, wound, and scar serums; and in chest balms. Dilute to use, as some people’s skin may be sensitive to it.
Historically, this balsamic resin was thought to be heating and drying, and warming and stimulating, while soothing the emotions into relaxed euphoria. This balsamic resin was also highly revered as an antiseptic and expectorant ingredient in chest balms.
In Europe, sweet pastilles throat lozenges were made with compounded benzoin. Wondrous wound healing was also seen as with this essence softened scar tissue, enhanced skin’s elasticity, and protected chapped skin.
“In France it was called baume pulmon-aire, pulmonary balsam, because the fumes helped to combat respiratory infections and asthma, and prevent the spread of contagious disease.”
∼ Julia Lawless, Aromatherapy and the Mind
“The Greeks and Romans used the resin not only as an incense, but also in perfumes and cosmetics, and in later times, benzoin resin was powdered and used in pomanders – it is said that Elizabeth I of England carried a pomander of benzoin and ambergris.”
∼ Jennifer Peace Rhind, Fragrance and Well Being