(Styrax benzoin)

Family: Styracaceae
Description: Benzoin is a tropical tree with pale-green leaves and hard-shelled fruit. Incisions into the bark produce a resin that hardens into brown ‘tears’ with reddish streaks. The essential oil is steam-distilled from these tears’ of hardened resin, but it is an almost solid resinous mass. This is then dissolved in ethyl glycol (or similar) to render it suitable for aromatherapeutic purposes.
Countries of origin: Sumatra, Java, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia
Characteristics: Benzoin has vanilla ice-cream top notes and sweet-molasses, balsamic undertones. It blends well with other resins and most spices, and also with rose, sandalwood, jasmine, cypress, juniper, lemon and pine.

Main therapeutic properties: Anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, astringent, carminative, deodorant, expectorant, sedative, styptic.

Benzoin is the ‘cuddly’ essential oil, and its sweet fragrance comforts people who are sad, lonely, alienated, depressed and bereaved. Most commonly used in the form of Friar’s Balsam, it is a valuable cold remedy, gentle enough for children, and is used in steam inhalations, for treating asthma, bronchitis and coughs. Overall, benzoin is warming, soothing and mothering.

Like myrrh, benzoin is useful in skin care, especially when the skin is cut, chapped, cracked or inflamed.
Psychologically, benzoin acts like a shield or comfort blanket, protecting you from the harshness of life. Bezoin comforts, elevates and protects; it was traditionally used in incense to drive away evil spirits.