by Stephanie Chambers and Dr. Christoph Streicher
Most essential oils are made from fresh leaves, flowers or twigs, but there are a few special essential oils that are made from the resin of plants.
A resin is different to the sap of a tree as the sap is comprised mainly of sugar and water and is found in the inner cells of the tree (e.g. maple syrup), whereas resin is a hydrocarbon liquid stored in the outer cells of the tree. All trees have some type of sap, but only some types of trees produce resin. Some trees also produce other liquids like latex (e.g. from rubber trees) and gum. When a resin producing tree is cut, the resin oozes out and fills the cut just like blood does in our bodies when we are cut. Resin becomes hard when it is treated.
Elemi is steam distilled from the resin of a tropical tree that grows up to one hundred feet tall. This essential oil ranges from a clear liquid to a pale yellow color.
It is native to the Philippine Islands and the Moluccas (a group of Indonesia islands), where it is also cultivated.
Elemi means “above and below” in Arabic. This is referring to its spiritual undertones. In ancient times, it was used by Arabs and Turks in incense, by Egyptians in embalming, due to its antiseptic properties and by Europeans to boost the immune system, to sooth respiratory conditions and stomachaches and to lessen fatigue. It was also used to heal broken bones.
Elemi Essential Oil has a light, garden-fresh, citrusy scent. It helps to center and bring peace to the body. Although technically considered a middle fragrance note, its bright top note is reminiscent of lemon, while it’s spicy and sweet bottom note evokes a cooling and soothing walk through the woods. People often diffuse it during meditation because it encourages calmness, peace, compassion and strength.
Oils That Blend Well With Elemi: Cinnamon, Frankincense, Cistus, Lavandin, Lavender and Myrrh.
How to use Elemi for:
- Aged skin, wrinkles or acne: Dilute to it 2% in a natural skin lotion (10 drops per tablespoon).
- Wounds, cuts or inflammation: Dilute it 2% in water (10 drops per tablespoon) and dip a cotton cloth in it and use it as a cold compress.
- Congestion and coughs: Diffuse it or dilute it 2% in a carrier oil (10 drops per tablespoon) and massage into the chest area.
- Calm the body and mind or revive after nervous exhaustion: Diffuse it or dilute it and use it in a bath.
- Muscle aches and pains: Dilute it 2% in a carrier oil (10 drops per tablespoon) and massage into the skin or dilute and use in a bath.
Mastic essential oil is steam distilled from the resin of the mastic tree, which is native to the Mediterranean region. The oil has a fresh, balsamic fragrance similar to pine.
It has traditionally been used to treat boils, cuts, wounds and ringworm. It is antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, astringent, antiseptic, expectorant and diuretic. It is also said to be good for arthritis and bronchitis and has also been used as an insect repellent.
How to use Mastic for:
- Boils, cuts, wounds and ringworm: Dilute it 2% in water (10 drops per tablespoon) and dip a cotton cloth in it and use it as a cold compress.
- Bronchitis: Diffuse it or dilute it 2% in a carrier oil (10 drops per tablespoon) and massage into the chest area.
- Ringworm or arthritis: Dilute it 2% in a carrier oil (10 drops per tablespoon) and massage into the affected area.
- Insect repellent: Dilute to it 2% in a natural skin lotion (10 drops per tablespoon).
Benzoin Resinoid Essential Oil is distilled from the resin of the Benzoin tree which grows in the tropics. The resin is sticky and cocoa colored and has a balsamic odor. The tree has light green citrus-shaped leaves, a fruit with a hard shell similar to nutmeg and can grow up to 70 feet tall. It is native to tropical Asia.
After the resin is extracted, it is a solid substance and it needs to be diluted for use as an essential oil. Commonly it is diluted with a a synthetic substance called di-propylene glycol. But Amrita’s benzoin is diluted 50% with triacetine, a food quality compound which is the triple ester of glycerin.
Benzoin has often been used in cosmetics because it keeps them from spoiling due to its antioxidant effects. It is also known for creating youthful skin and soothing skin problems.
Benzoin has been a key ingredient in incense, perfumes, and Chinese medicine. Since ancient times, it was believed that burning it cleansed the atmosphere of illness and “evil spirits”. Traditionally it has also been used to correct skin problems.
Benzoin Resinoid Essential Oil has a rich, sweet balsamic, incense-like aroma with the sensual accent of vanilla. It is a base fragrance note.
Oils That Blend Well With Benzoin Resinoid: Balsam, Frankincense, Jasmine, Lemon, Myrrh, Rose, Sandalwood.
How to use Benzoin Resinoid for:
- Throat infections, coughs, bronchitis, asthma: Inhale directly from the bottle or diffuse using a nebulizing diffuser.
- Wounds and scars: Dilute 3-4% in any carrier oil (15-20 drops per tablespoon) and apply to the affected area. Apply as often as possible over a number of days.
- Youthful skin: Dilute 3-4% in any unscented lotion (15-20 drops per tablespoon) and apply to the skin each day.
- Irritated, inflamed or dry skin: Dilute 3-4% in any carrier oil or unscented lotion (15-20 drops per tablespoon) and apply to the skin each day.
- Depression, PMS, stress, irritability, anxiety: Diffuse or dilute 2% in any carrier oil (10 drops per tablespoon) and do a whole body massage with it or dilute with liquid soap and use in a bath.
Frankincense Essential Oil is distilled from sticky, fragrant resin harvested from the Boswellia shrub, native to the Middle East. When the bark of the Boswellia shrub is disturbed, it oozes out beads of gummy resin. These are meticulously collected and then distilled for their essence.
Frankincense is made up of two words: the old French word “frank” meaning free, pure or abundant, and the Latin word “incensum” meaning to smoke.
Frankincense has been used for thousands of years in both homes and religious places of worship as it promotes meditation and prayer. It was thought to cleanse the environment, protect against infection, dispel evil spirits, and promote spirituality.
Frankincense was considered precious in ancient times. It was mentioned twenty times in the Bible. It was one of three gifts brought by the Magi to the baby Jesus, alongside Myrrh and Gold. It it still burned ceremonially in the Catholic mass and in Mosques. It is used by Muslims to attract angels and repel evil forces.
Throughout the years, besides being considered precious for spiritual and meditative purposes, Frankincense was also said to protect against airborne illnesses. It’s said to maintain youthful skin as it has tissue regeneration capabilities, and so it helps reduce wrinkles and to heal scars and wounds.
It is warm, woody, sweet, spicy, calming and consciousness-expanding. Traditionally it is used to treat anxiety, stress and tension as it calms the mind. It is said to slow the breath rate, which is one of the signs of deep relaxation.
Frankincense’s astringent properties make it helpful in clearing the respiratory channels affected by cold or flu. It also has pain-relieving properties. It is a middle fragrance note.
Oils That Blend Well With Frankincense: Jasmine, Myrrh, Pine, Rose, Sandalwood, Fir and Cistus.
How to use Frankincense for:
- General health: Dilute it 2% in jojoba or hazelnut oil (10 drops per tablespoon) and do a whole body massage with it.
- Improving the health of the uterus or to reduce heavy menstrual bleeding: Dilute it to 3-5% in jojoba or hazelnut oil (15-25 drops per tablespoon) and apply to the lower abdomen.
- Wrinkles: Dilute up to 2% in an unscented lotion (10 drops per tablespoon) and apply to the skin.
- Reducing a fever: Diffuse it or dilute it 3-5% in jojoba or hazelnut oil (15-25 drops per tablespoon) and apply to the whole frontal line and forehead (the frontal line runs from the heart area upwards and downwards and extends from the front of the neck to the pubic bone, parallel to the spine).
- Respiratory congestion or asthma: Diffuse it.
- Aid concentration or to remove mental fog: Diffuse it or dilute it 3-5% in jojoba or hazelnut oil (15-25 drops per tablespoon) and apply to the forehead.
- Aid inspiration: Diffuse it or dilute it 3-5% in jojoba or hazelnut oil (15-25 drops per tablespoon) and apply to the heart, chest area, and forehead.
Myrrh is derived from “mur” which means bitter in Arabic and Hebrew. It is steam-distilled from the resin secreted from the myrrh bush. It oozes out of the plant as a thick, pale-yellow liquid and when it cools, it hardens and turns reddish-brown, forming tear-like shapes. The myrrh bush is native to southern Arabia, northeast Africa and southwest Asia.
Myrrh is one of the oldest known essential oils. It has been used for over 4,000 years. It is mentioned in the Bible, and in the Quran and in Greek and Roman texts. Along with frankincense and gold, it was given to baby Jesus as a gift. It was also presented at Christ’s death. The Egyptians used Myrrh as a skin beauty aid, as a perfume, in their incense for religious ceremonies and for mummification. The Chinese herbalists used it on ailments that involved bleeding, pain and wounds.
Myrrh smells woody, warm, spicy and a little like camphor. It is a base fragrance note.
Oils That Blend Well With Myrrh: Benzoin, Cypress, Frankincense, Geranium, Mandarine, Lavender, Rose, Rosewood, Sandalwood, Tea Tree and Thyme.
How to use Myrrh for:
- External sores such as hemorrhoids, bed sores and wounds: Dilute it 2% in a carrier oil or lotion (10 drops per tablespoon) and apply to the affected area.
- Digestive problems, diarrhea: Dilute it 2% in a carrier oil (10 drops per tablespoon) and apply to the abdomen area or dilute it with water and apply as a compress or dilute and use in a bath.
- Dry, chapped skin: Dilute it 2% in a carrier oil or lotion (10 drops per tablespoon).
- Athlete’s foot: Dilute it 2% in a carrier oil (10 drops per tablespoon) and apply to the affected area.
- Anxiety and overthinking: Diffuse it or dilute it and use in a bath.
- Respiratory problems (coughs, colds, bronchitis): Inhale from the bottle or use a nebulizing diffuser, or use in a steam inhalation or dilute it 2% in a carrier oil (10 drops per tablespoon) and apply to the chest area.
- Menstrual cramps: Dilute it 2% in a carrier oil (10 drops per tablespoon) and apply to the affected area.
- Adding meditation: Diffuse it.
Maybe it’s time for you to resonate with resins
If you haven’t tried resin based essential oils, maybe it’s now the time to experience their full effects. Whether it's to aid your spiritual growth or to help your body to heal from a specific condition, many have found them useful over the years. If you have already used them, we would love to hear of your experiences, so please comment on them below.