The health benefits of Benzoin Essential Oil can be attributed to its properties as antidepressant, carminative, cordial, deodorant, disinfectant, relaxant, diuretic, expectorant, antiseptic, vulnerary, astringent, anti-inflammatory, anti-rheumatic and sedative substance.
Benzoin oil has been in use for thousands of years ago 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 antidepressant, disinfectant and aromatic properties.
Benzoin oil is golden-colored, aromatic, thick, resinous oil obtained from the Benzoin tree whose scientific name is Styrax Benzoin. Its chief components are Benzyl Benzoate, Benzoic Acid, Benzaldehyde, Coniferyl Benzoate, Cinnamic Acid and Vanillin. This last component gives it a vanilla-like aroma.
Whether or not they were aware of its other medicinal values is a matter of debate, but modern research has found a number of medicinal properties of Benzoin oil, some of which are listed below.
Antidepressant and Cordial: Benzoin oil raises spirit and uplifts mood. That is why it was and still is widely used in religious ceremonies in many parts of the world. This is used in incense sticks and other such substances which, when burnt, gives out smoke with the characteristic aroma of Benzoin oil. The molecules of the components of this oil, along with inhaled smoke, get into our nostrils and are detected by our smell receptors and their effects are transmitted to our brain, thereby stimulating the nervous center. This also gives a warm feeling, stimulates the heart beat and improves circulation. These properties of Benzoin Oil were detected long ago and used to create a mood of celebration in a gathering.
Relaxant and Sedative: Benzoin oil, besides being a stimulant and an antidepressant on one hand, is a relaxant and sedative on the other. It relieves anxiety, tension, nervousness and stress. Actually, it brings the nervous system and neurotic system to normal. That is why, in case of depression, it gives a feeling of uplifted mood and in case of anxiety and stress, it relaxes people. It also has tranquilizing effects. Thus, it may not be used by students, particularly during exams when they intend to study over night.
Vulnerary: This describes an agent which protects open wounds from infections. This property of Benzoin oil has been known for ages and instances of such use have been found from the remains of many old civilizations around the world.
Antiseptic and Disinfectant: It is a very good antiseptic and disinfectant. The components like Benzaldehyde, Benzoic Acid and Benzyl Benzoate are very effective germicidal, bactericidal, fungicidal and antiviral substances. Even the extent to which its smoke spreads on burning makes the zone disinfected from germs. When externally applied on wounds, it prevents it sepsis from developing.
Carminative and Anti-flatulent: Benzoin oil has carminative and anti-flatulent properties. It helps in the removal of gases from the stomach and the intestines and relieves inflation of the intestines. This is once again due to its relaxing effects. It relaxes the muscular tension in the abdominal area and help gases pass out. This helps digestion and improves appetite.
Deodorant: Being very rich in aroma, it is extensively used as deodorant for rooms and the body. Its smoke fills the rooms with a nice aroma and drives away odor. Mixed with bathing water and massage oils, or if applied on body, it kills body odor as well as the germs that cause the odor. In olden days, women in some parts of the world used to smoke their hair with Benzoin oil smoke to make it smell good. This property comes from the presence of derivatives of Benzene ring in this oil. Actually, benzene is a cyclic hydrocarbon and like all other cyclic organic compounds, is aromatic in nature.
Astringent: It has astringent properties, which tone up the muscles and the skin. If mixed with water and used as a mouthwash, it also tightens the gums. This astringent property is very helpful for face-lifting and for the reduction of wrinkles on the skin.
Expectorant: Benzoin oil, being warm and disinfectant in nature, behaves as a good expectorant. It helps in the removal of coughs from the respiratory system comprising the trachea, bronchi and lungs, and relieves congestion. This therefore eases breathing. Its tranquilizing properties help relax and induce sleep for patients who cannot sleep due to extreme congestion from coughs and colds. Due to this property, it is also used in balms, rubs, and vaporizers.
Diuretic: It has diuretic properties, meaning that it promotes and facilitates urination, both in frequency and in quantity, thereby helping removal of toxic substances from the blood through urination. Urination also helps in lowering blood pressure, losing weight and improving digestion.
Anti-inflammatory: It is anti-inflammatory in nature and soothes inflammation in cases of pox, measles, rashes, eruptions and others. It also helps soothe inflammation of the digestive system caused due to excessive ingestion of spicy food.
Anti-rheumatic and Anti-arthritic: These are two of the most used properties of Benzoin oil. It gives very good relief in rheumatism and arthritis, when applied externally, due to the easy absorption of benzyl components in it through the skin pores. Due to this, it is used in a number of anti-arthritic balms.
Other Benefits: Prevents and heals cracking of skin, sores and stimulates secretions of enzymes and hormones like insulin from endocrinal glands like the pancreas, thus lowering the blood sugar level and regulating other metabolic functions.
A Few Words of Caution: Benzene and its derivatives, despite being highly aromatic, are toxic in nature. Therefore, ingestion or inhalation in excessive quantities can cause nausea, vomiting, headache, and lack of oxygen in the blood so it should be avoided.