Also Called: Snowbells, Storax, Gum Benzoin, Siam Benzoin, Siamese Benzoin, Benzoin Gum, Ben, Benjamen
Benzoin is the gum resin that exudes from the bark after tapping and the trees can apparently produce resin in this way for about 15 to 20 years. Benzoin was first known in English as benjoin (recorded in the sixteenth century), which was popularly corrupted to benjamin. This is an adaptation of the same word in French, Spanish and Portuguese, which derived from the Arab luban-jawi, 'incense from Sumatra (Java)'.
The Ancient Greeks and Romans knew benzoin, although they called it by quite different names - 'Silphion' to the Greeks, and 'Laserpitium' to the Romans. They would include the powdered resin in pot-pourris because of its very powerful fixative properties. Benzoin was highly valued by all. In 1461, for instance, the Sultan of Egypt, Melech Elmazda, sent the Doge of Venice a gift of two Persian carpets and 30 rotoli (100 rotoli is the equivalent of 80kg/177 lb) of benzoin. The Queen of Cyprus received a similarly sumptuous present from the Sultan in 1476, 15 rotoli of benzoin. The Portuguese navigator, Barboza, is thought to have introduced the precious resin to Europe. Later, in 1623, the resin's properties were sufficiently valued for the British to set up a factory in Siam to produce and export it.
Nostradamus, famous for his prognostications, gave many recipes including benzoin in a 1556 book. It was classified as an antispasmodic and tonic for skin infections and eruptions. In France it was called' baume pulmonaire', pulmonary balsam, and the resin was burned near the ill person, the fumes inhaled. In France many proprietary medicines are based on benzoin: sweets called pastilles de serail are taken for colds and 'flu and tablets made that are bechic and anti-asthmatic. Its properties were not unknown in British medicine either, because friar's balsam, used as an inhalant and application for ulcers and wounds, is a tincture of benzoin compound.
Benzoin is considered sacred to Venus, Aphrodite and to Mut. It makes excellent incense for use in their temples.
Benzoin oil can be used for bronchitis, coughs, colds, wounds, acne, eczema, psoriasis, rheumatism, arthritis, scar tissue, circulation, nervous tension, stress, muscle pains, chilblains, rashes and mouth ulcers.
In vapor therapy Benzoin oil can be used for the nervous system, calming and bringing comfort to the depressed and emotionally exhausted.
Benzoin oil can be used in blended massage oil, or diluted in the bath to assist with general aches and pains, arthritis and rheumatism, as well as chronic bronchitis and coughing. Poor circulation will also benefit from this oil, as well as stiff muscles. It also has a calming effect and helps to ease depression. It furthermore gives the skin a general boost by increasing elasticity, reducing redness, irritation and itchiness, while helping wound healing.
Benzoin oil is a good remedy for dry, cracked skin, cuts and wounds, as well as for acne and irritable and itching skin, while at the same time improving elasticity.
Check out The Pagan Corner with Cu & Sin