Benzoin (Resinoid)

The benzoin tree grows in tropical Asia, where it is also cultivated. The natural gum is collected from deep incisions made in the tree trunk; it hardens on exposure to the air.

This genus includes some 100 species of deciduous and evergreen shrubs and small trees, widely distributed in the Americas, Asia, and Europe. Several species are rich in resins that have medicinal properties. Styrax benzoin was first described by Ibn Batuta, and Arab who explored Sumatra between 1325 and 1349. He referred to it as luban jawi, "frankincense of Java", which over time became "Benjamin" and "benzoin". Styrax benzoin yields benzoin, a gum resin widely used in over-the-counter remedies for bronchial complaints. The resin becamse popular in Europe toward the end of the 16th century and was subject to tax at Worms (W Germany), under the name of asa dulcis. It also entered Chinese medicine about this time, being first mentioned in Li Shi Zhen's herbal of 1596. Styrax tonkinensis (Siam benzoin) and S. hypoglauca are alternative sources of benzoin. The term "storax" refers to a vanilla-scented, solid resin, obtained from the Eurasian species S. officinalis, and used in incense, perfumery, and medicine. The liquid, aromatic balsam from Liquidambar species (See, Oriental Sweet Gum) is also called storax.

Evergreen tree with gray, resinous bark and ovate, minutely toothed leaves, to 14cm (5½in) long, which have downy, gray undersides. Clusters of 10-20 fragrant, cup-shaped, white flowers, about 3cm (1¼in) across, appear in spring or summer.

Common Name:
Other Names:
Gum Benjamin
Botanical Name:
Styrax benzoin
Native Location:
Cambodia, Java, Laos, Sumatra, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia
Moist to wet soil in sun or partial shade.
By seed sown when ripe; by greenwood cuttings in summer.
Gum is collected from deep incisions made in the trunks of trees at least 7 years old. Hardened gum is stored in pieces ("tears"), compressed into a solid mass, or made into tinctures.
8m (25ft)
5-6m (15-20ft)
Min. 15-18°C (59-64°F)
Solvent extraction
Parts Used:
Gum resin (an xi xing)
Color and Odor:
Benzoin resinoid is thick and dark golden brown in color, having a most pleasant aroma resembling vanilla. It is one the heavier oils and is an excellent fixative.
Long used in antiquity as an incense. Known in Europe during the Middle Ages when it was used as a compound tincture for inhalation. It was then called "Friar's Balsam".
Warming, energizing, circulatory stimulant, sedative, decongesting, expectorant, diuretic, carminative.
An astringent, expectorant, and antiseptic herb with a cinnamon-camphor aroma. It is regarded as a circulatory stimulant in Chinese medicine and as a sedative in aromatherapy.
Benzoin is a resinoid and cannot be obtained as a pure essential oil. The resinoid is the natural extract from the tree, which is then diluted with a solvent (benzyl alcohol). This makes it easier to pour and handle, as the natural product is very thick and difficult to use.
  • Urinary Sytem—Antiseptic property good for cystitis.
  • Respiratory System—Tonic to the lungs. Effective for colds, flu, bronchitis and asthma, clearing and expelling congested mucus. Also good for coughs, sore throat and loss of voice.
  • Reproductive Sytem—Excellent for leucorrhoea.
  • Muscular System—Good for rheumatism.
  • Skin—Soothing for conditiosn where there is redness, irritation and itching, such as cracked skin or chapped hands chillblains and dermatitis. A good remedy for wounds and sores.
  • Emotions—Calming and comforting for crisis states involving sadness, loneliness, depression and anxiety. Especially good for dispelling anger. In times of great exertion, benzoin eases emotional exhaustion, is energizing and increases physical strength. The scent of benzoin stimulates the concious mind and counteracts indifference. Benzoin is protective against life's crisis. It also releases past tensions and resentments.
Medicinal Uses:
In Western medicine, internally for coughs, colds, bronchitis, sore throat, wounds, ulcers, and mouth ulcers; externally for wounds and ulcers. An ingredient of cough and cold remedies, such as Friar's Balsam. In Chinese medicine, internally for chest and abdominal pains. In aromatherapy for influenza, chills, and itching skin conditions.
Economic Uses:
Used as an anti-oxidant in cosmetics, a fixative in perfumes, and as s flavoring in the food industry.
Benzoin 7 Benzoin 6 Benzoin 6
Celery 4 Eucalyptus 5 Sandalwood 3
Niaouli 2 Thyme 3 Bergamot 3

Benzoin 7 Benzoin 5 Benzoin 6
Marjoram 4 Myrrh 2 Rose 4
Juniper 3 Chamomile (R) 2 Clary Sage 2
Aromatherapy Blends and recipes by Franzesca Watson Copyright © 1995 Thorsons, Harper Parker Publishing Inc. Pp 60-61
The Encyclopedia of Herbs by Deni Bown copyright © 1995, 2001 Dorling Kindersley Limited. pp 376-377