The plant known as the benzoin gum is a shrub like deciduous tree. The leaves of the benzoin gum are pointed and oval in shape and the herb also gives out clusters of fragrant and bell shaped white flowers when it blooms in the spring.
In perfumery, benzoin is used as a fixative, slowing the dispersion of essential oils and other fragrance materials into the air. Benzoin resin is used in cosmetics, veterinary medicine, and scented candles. It is used as a flavoring in alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, baked goods, chewing gum, frozen dairy, gelatins, puddings, and soft candy.
The primary use of the benzoin gum in herbal remedies is connected to the potent antiseptic and astringent action it possesses. Remedies made from the benzoin gum can be used for the treatment of external wounds and in the treatment of ulcers – the remedy is especially beneficial for tightening and disinfecting affected tissues on the body. Remedies made from the benzoin gum when consumed help to settle muscular cramps and stimulate coughing. The remedy also helps in disinfecting the urinary tract in case of urinogenital disorders. The herbal remedy called Friar’s Balsam, which is an antiseptic and expectorant steam inhalation used in treating sore throats, problems such as head and chest colds, asthma, and bronchitis also has benzoin gum as one of the ingredients.
The physical effects induced in the human body by the benzoin gum are similar to the effects induced by benzoic acid. This is not surprising as the benzoic acid is one of the principal constituents of benzoin gum, the benzoin acid is modified by the resin and the essential oils present in the herb. Benzoin gum in the body is eliminated from the body mainly through the mucous membranes.
The mucous tissues in the body are stimulated by benzoin and the remedy is normally employed to induce an expectorant action in case of chronic diseases affecting the air passages of the respiratory system. The benzoin gum remedies are also said to stimulate the functioning of the sexual organs.
There is some evidence that benzoin might be safe for use as a medicine when taken by mouth or applied to the skin. Not enough is known about the safety of inhaling it.
Special Precautions & Warnings:
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of benzoin during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Benzoin allergy: People who are allergic to benzoin break out in a rash when they use it.
None are recorded.
Source: Herbs2000, http://www.herbs2000.com/herbs/herbs_benzoin_gum.htm