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Benzoin - Styrax benzoin

Benzoin is derived from a shrubby deciduous tree native to South Eastern Asia. The tree has pointed oval leaves, clusters of white fragrant bell-shaped flowers and hard-shelled flattish fruit about the size of a nutmeg. Pure benzoin is the resin which exudes from incisions made in the bark of these trees when they are at least 7 years old. Upon exposure to air and sunlight, the resin hardens - although it can be heated over hot water to be used in its 'oil' state.

Benzoin has been used for thousands of years in the East as a medicine and incense. Fumigations were believed to 'drive out evil spirits'. In the West it is best known in the form of compound tincture of benzoin, or Friar's Balsam, a healing, soothing remedy for chilblains, painful sores and cracked, dry skin. It is also well known as a preservative - commonly used in pot-pourri and incense blends.
Added to a steam inhalation for colds, Benzoin can help stop infection spreading down into the throat and lungs.


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