The Ancient Oil Known as Onycha

flower, lily, lilium candidum

Onycha (Styrax benzoin) is mentioned only once in the Bible:

“The Lord said to Moses: Take sweet spices, stacte,[another name for myrrh] and onycha, and galbanum, sweet spices with pure frankincense and make an incense blended as by the perfumer, seasoned with salt, pure and holy; and you shall beat some of it into powder, and put part of it before the covenant in the tent of meeting where I shall meet with you; it shall be for you most holy. When you make incense according to this composition, you shall not make it for yourselves; it shall be regarded by you as holy to the Lord.” Exodus 30:34-36

Benzoin was used both as medicine and as incense in the ancient world. They used it in perfume and blended it in holy anointing oils, and used it as an ointment to heal skin wounds. Since the 16th century however, it has been used as a tincture for respiratory complaints and for cuts and skin conditions. To make a tincture, the oil is placed in alcohol. Benzoin is a rather sticky substance that has a characteristic vanilla-like fragrance. The oil comes from the benzoin trees that grow up to 65 feet in height. These are tropical trees that come from places like Java, Sumatra and Malaysia. To get the oil, solvents must be used and later removed from the oil.


1. To help prevent infection to a cut or scrape, place a drop or two of Onycha essential oil on affected area.

2. Place a drop of Onycha essential oil on a wound to help slow bleeding.

3. Try using a drop of Onycha essential oil under each arm as deodorant.

4. For sore throats, coughs, or colds, add one drop of Onycha essential oil to a teaspoon to honey.

5. Rub 1-2 drops of Onycha essential oil on the stomach for cramping or pain.

6. To help with chapped or cracked skin, rub several drops of Onycha essential oil on skin to speed up healing.

7. For gargles, add a few drops of Onycha essential oil to four ounces of warm rice milk to help with sore throats or laryngitis.

8. Mix Onycha essential oil with carrier oil, such as olive oil, and rub on chest to help loosen mucus and congestion.

How Can Onycha (Styrax Benzoin) Be Used Today for Healing ?

Modern uses of Onycha (benzoin) essential oil include stimulating renal output, relieving colic, flatulence, and constipation and it may help control blood sugar levels. Onycha can be inhaled for sinusitis, bronchitis, colds, coughs, and sore throats. It is anti-inflammatory and is used for dermatitis and skin wounds. This oil can relieve stress when used in massage.

Onycha can be inhaled, used in massage, and applied topically in wound dressings. It is a non-toxic, non-irritating oil but some may be sensitive. Want to learn more about this healing oil and many others? Consider becoming a certified aromatherapist.


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