24 January 2022 / Caitlin Devlin
Benzoin Essential Oil: History, Uses and Benefits
Benzoin is a warming, stimulating oil with useful benefits for the cold weather.
Benzoin is quite an unusual oil. Rather than being distilled or cold pressed like the majority of essential oils, it is collected from the balsamic resin of the benzoin tree.
The resin hardens upon exposure to air and sunlight. It is then extracted via solvent extraction, where the excess material is dissolved to leave behind the oil. The resin was used for thousands of years in the east as medicine to heal, warm, and as a personal perfume – in fact, Queen Elizabeth I wore a benzoin perfume for many years in the fifteenth century. These days, benzoin oil is still used for its aromatic scent, as well as its digestion-aiding and warming properties. It has an almost treacle-like consistency, and before being used it has to be heated to facilitate the flow of the oil.
Benzoin essential oil may improve circulation.
For centuries benzoin has been thought to stimulate the heartbeat and get blood flowing quicker throughout the body. This is one of the reasons that benzoin had such religious significance across a number of faiths – by burning it at religious gatherings, people believed that it would create a mood of celebration due to these stimulating effects. Many people now use benzoin oil in the winter months in order to improve circulation and warm themselves up.
It can help to remove bad odours.
A 2016 review suggests that benzoin has antibacterial properties, which may explain in part why it is so good at expelling unpleasant odours. Its antibacterial qualities may allow it to kill the microbes responsible for the bad smells and freshen the air.
Another theory as to why benzoin is so effective at dispelling bad odours is that it owes this quality to derivates of the benzene ring in this oil. The benzene ring, a hexagonal arrangement of six carbon atoms, is a key component of many organic compounds – in particular aromatic hydrocarbons. Benzene’s aromatic properties give it a strong and pleasant odour that is able to inhibit less pleasant scents.
It can help treat respiratory conditions.
Benzoin has also been observed to have expectorant properties. This means that it is able to aid the removal of excess phlegm and mucus from the respiratory system, helping to clear blocked airways and allowing for easier breathing. It has also been suggested that benzoin produces a feeling of contentment in those that inhale it, allowing for easier sleep in sufferers of respiratory conditions.
It can facilitate regular urination.
A lesser-known property of benzoin, and one that is still being explored, is its diuretic abilities. Diuretics promote and facilitate frequent, healthy urination. This is beneficial for a number of reasons, including the regular removal of toxins from the body, the improvement of digestion, and the lowering of blood pressure.
There is still something mysterious and captivating about honey-scented benzoin, and it is easy to understand why it was once treated with such reverence. Its rich, warming smell is enough reason alone to add it to your collection, and its internal benefits are all the more incentive.
Shop our benzoin essential oil here.