Sumatran Benzoin

Sumatran Benzoin (Styrax benzoin)

Benzoin is derived from a large, tropical tree that is native to tropical Asia. It is a member of the Styraceae botanical family. Although it does not botanically belong to the same family as frankincense and myrrh, it has some properties and an aroma that are reminiscent of these oils.

Benzoin is a crude resin that appears in two different forms, depending on the region from which it is derived. Benzoin is either derived from the region that includes Sumatra, Java and Malaysia (Sumatra benzoin) or that which includes Thailand, Vietnam, China and Cambodia (Siam benzoin). Sumatra benzoin appears as gray-brown brittle lumps with red streaks; Siam benzoin appears as tear-shaped orange-brown lumps. An orange-brown viscous resinoid, with a rich balsamic aroma, and sweet undertones, is produced from either type. Sumatra benzoin contains 18% or more of benzoic acid and about 20% of cinnamic acid the latter partly free and partly combined with benzoresinol and sumarisinotannol; it also contains 1% of vanillin, styrol, styracin, phenyl-prophyl cinnamate and benzaldehyde, all of which combine to produce its characteristic odour. Benzoin, also known as gum Benjamin, is one of the classic ingredients of incense. In ancient civilizations it was used in fumigation and it is also an ingredient of 'Friar's balsam', an aid to respiratory problems. It is also used as a fixative in the perfume industry. Benzoin oil was there in use thousands of years ago and instances have been found of its use in some of the oldest civilizations of the world, particularly in their religious ceremonies and in their medicines, mainly due to its anti depressant, disinfectant and aromatic properties. Benzoin oil raises spirit and uplifts mood. That is why it was and is still widely used in religious ceremonies in many parts of the world. Being very rich in aroma, it is extensively used as deodorant for rooms and body. Its smoke fills the rooms with nice aroma and drives away odor. Mixed with bathing water and massage oils or otherwise, if applied on body, it kills body odor as well as the germs causing the odor. In old days, ladies in some parts of the world used to smoke their hair with Benzoin Oil smoke to make them smell good. Benzoin oil's greatest benefit lies in that it has a calming effect on the nervous and digestive systems, a warming effect on circulation problems and a toning effect on the respiratory tract.