Elemi Oil: Benefits, Uses, Properties, and Side Effects

Whether it is about reducing stress or attaining a healthy skin, Elemi oil benefits are astounding. It shares the properties of Frankincense oil and myrrh oil but can do much beyond.

We bring you all the information you needed about elemi essential oil – its benefits, medicinal properties, usage, side effects, and much more.

What Is Elemi Oil?

Elemi oil is extracted from its Canarium luzonicum tree, which is native to the Philippines. The tree is also called Manila elemi or canary tree and belongs to the Burseraceae family.

It is a tall evergreen tree with glossy, dark-green leaves, yellow flowers, and olive-like fruits. There are about 700 species of tropical trees in the Burseraceae family. However, the Canarium genus alone contains around 75 species. The genus spreads across the rainforests of tropical Asia, Africa, and the Pacific (1).

The elemi oil is extracted from its gum resin through the process of steam distillation. For collecting the resin, the tree trunk is cut into horizontal lines, where the white gum resin oozes in large amounts.

Depending on the age of the tree, the resin is collected either daily or weekly. Most often, the resin is exported and distilled in Europe. At present, Moluccas Islands (Philippines) is the primary producer of Elemi oil. (2, 3)

The resin is also used in foods, making incense sticks, artists’ lacquers, and varnish. The tree is also cultivated in Central American countries and Brazil for commercial purposes.

what is elemi oil used for

Scientific Name Of Elemi Oil

Canarium luzonicum

Caution: Elemi essential oil when aged becomes resiny.  This stage is considered toxic.  When you find any change in the consistency of the oil, avoid using it. Generally, the shelf life of elemi essential oil is three years when stored appropriately in a cold and dark place.

History Of Elemi Oil

On March 16, 1521, a Portuguese navigator “Magellan” reached Philippines archipelago (a wide group of islands). It was the first European expedition to enter the Philippines.

He spent more than a month with local traders and spread Christianity. This historical expedition led to the introduction of Elemi tree to the Middle East and Europe. The Arabs named the tree “Elemi,” meaning “above and below.” The people believed that the tree benefitted them both spiritually and physically.

In ancient times, Arabs used the resin to make incense, which in turn, helped them to attain a deep meditative state.  In ancient Egypt, people used the tree for embalming purpose.

The Elemi tree has been introduced to European pharmacopeias in the sixteenth century. It is believed that the tree resin cures broken bones and wounds.

resin of elemi
Elemi resin

Color, Consistency, and Smell Of Elemi Oil

  • The color of elemi oil is clear to pale-yellow.
  • The consistency of elemi oil is thin.
  • The smell of elemi oil is fresh, citrus, slightly peppery, and balsamic.

Properties Of Elemi Essential Oil

The therapeutic properties of Elemi essential oil include (4, 5).

  • Analgesic – Reduces pain sensation
  • Antibacterial – Prevents bacterial growth
  • Antifungal – Prevents fungal growth
  • Anti-infectious – Prevents uptake of infection
  • Anti-inflammatory – Alleviates inflammation
  • Antioxidant – Inhibits oxidation
  • Antiseptic – Destroys microbes and prevents their development
  • Antispasmodic – Prevents or relieves spasms, convulsions, or contractions
  • Antiviral – Prevents viral growth
  • Cicatrizing – Promotes the formation of scar tissue, thus healing
  • Expectorant – Helps the removal of mucus from the body
  • Pectoral – Beneficial for diseases or conditions of the chest and respiratory system
  • Stimulant – Increases the overall function of the body
  • Stomachic – Good for the stomach; gastric tonic, digestive aid
  • Tonic – Invigorates, refreshes, restores the body and bodily functions

Chemical Compounds In Elemi Oil

The major compounds present in Elelmi essential oil includes (þ)-Limonene (26.9 – 65.0%), Elemol (2.8 –17.3%), a-Phellandrene (4.3 – 15.1%), Elemicin (1.8 – 10.6%), p-Cymene (1.4 – 7.7%), a-Pinene (0.4 – 5.4%), 1,8-Cineole (2.5%), b-Myrcene (0.6 – 2.4%), b-Phellandrene (0.8 – 1.6%), Sabinene (1.3 – 5.9%), b-Pinene (0.3 – 1.0%), and Methyleugenol (0.2 – 0.3%).

Of these compounds, Limonene is highly responsible for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Also, Limonene is studied for its anti-carcinogenic properties.

elemi oil skin benefits

Benefits Of Elemi Oil

Though the elemi oil benefits are abundant, the most crucial ones include:

1. Restores healthy skin

You can find elemi essential oil in many beauty products such as lotions and creams. The antiseptic properties of elemi essential oil help treat skin infections such as eczema, streptococcal infections, and candida infections.

Limonene is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. It heals the inflammation on the skin and rejuvenates it deep. You can blend 3 to 4 drops of elemi oil with any carrier oil such as olive oil or almond oil before applying it on the skin.

This is an excellent remedy for wrinkles, sagging skin, dry skin, acne, skin, and other skin problems. Also, an anti-infectious agent when added in the bath, elemi oil prevents the skin from further infections. (6).

2. Ideal for dry coughs

Generally, coughs can be classified into two types. One: coughs that produce and clears phlegm out of the respiratory tract. Two: coughs that don’t produce any phlegm. The latter is known as a dry cough.

A cough is a reflex mechanism of our body that clears out the respiratory tract. Ranging from viral infections, allergic reaction to environmental irritants, the causes of coughs are numerous.

However, in case of a dry cough, it is difficult to find the exact cause, making it hard in the process of treatment because your airways become oversensitive and get irritated soon. However, a therapeutic oil blend with elemi essential oil is a perfect solution to soothe such irritation and subside a dry cough.

You can mix 5 drops of Elemi essential oil and 5 drops of ginger oil with 2 tablespoons of coconut oil for a cough-treating blend. If you suffer from a dry cough, apply this mixture on your chest and back every night (7).

3. Reduces cellulite

That lumpy and dimpled flesh all over your body may be embarrassing. Cellulite or stretch marks, however you call it, is generally found in buttocks and thighs.

It is quite common among all individuals. It occurs when the fat deposits in your body push through the connective tissues beneath the skin. Cellulite can develop for many reasons.

But insufficient blood and lymphatic circulation are the main culprits to be blamed. Sedentary lifestyle, hormonal issues, allergies, an unhealthy diet, irregular sleep pattern, and environmental toxins are the other causes.

However, to get rid of cellulite is challenging. Cellulite elimination is not an easy job, and the bad news is, it comes back again. A good essential oil can do a great deed in getting rid of it.

Elemi is one such wonder. Dilute 4 drops of elemi oil, 8 drops of rosemary oil, 4 drops of ginger oil, and 3 drops of black pepper oil using 3 to 4 tablespoons of coconut oil. Massage using this mixture on the areas of concern before sleep (8).

4. Detoxifies your body

One of the best elemi oil benefits is its potential in the detoxification process. Accumulation of toxins in your body is the primary cause of any disease. Slow metabolism is yet another vital reason for toxin accumulation. Essential oil comes handy when it comes to detoxifying your body.

It generally stimulates metabolism, opens your skin pores, and exfoliates. Thus, making your skin breathe better. The aroma and therapeutic properties of elemi essential oil are absorbed through the skin, increasing circulation and eliminating toxins in return (9).

5. Prevents male pattern baldness

Baldness is a serious and common issue in men. Hair loss or alopecia can be attributed to many reasons such as fungal infection, stress, deficiency of vitamins and minerals, unhealthy eating habits, poor digestion, and much more.

In men, dihydrotestosterone, a derivative of testosterone binds onto the hair follicle, and reduces their size, making it difficult for the hair to grow.

However, a perfect blend of essential oils with elemi essential oil is worth a try to reverse hair loss. It helps to prevent hair fall, strengthen and thicken hair, and stimulates hair follicle for new growth.

Make an oil blend with 6 drops of elemi oil, 2 drops of peppermint oil, 2 drops of Geranium oil, 4 drops of rosemary oil, and 3 tablespoons of carrier oil like olive oil. Massage your scalp with this mixture (10).

6. Promote wound healing

Elemi essential oil is an excellent cicatrizing agent. Cuts, wounds, and other injuries occur to everyone. The human body has its mechanism of healing its wounds on own. Scar formation is a normal part of the healing process. When there is a wound, the body releases a substance called collagen.

It is a dense and fibrous connective tissue with properties different from the healthy skin. This is the reason why scars look darker than your skin tone.

Elemi essential oil stimulates collagen production and fastens the healing process. The analgesic property of the oil reduces the pain. It also prevents infections in the wounded regions. Elemi oil also speeds up recovery in case of bone fracture (11).

7. Recover from muscular fatigue

Elemi essential oil is an effective ingredient while preparing a massage blend to get rid of muscle fatigue. Muscle fatigue is a condition where your muscle gets tired, weak, and lose its ability to perform over time. From age, mineral deficiency to severe complications, various reasons may be responsible for muscular fatigue. It causes soreness, trembling, and pain (12).

You can mix 4 to 5 drops elemi essential oil, 4 drops of eucalyptus oil, and 2 tablespoons of carrier oil to make a massage blend. Massage this oil on the areas of concern to recover from muscular fatigue.

8. Cures respiratory problems

Elemi oil is an excellent remedy for respiratory distress. The expectorant property of the elemi oil eases congestion in the respiratory tract by removing phlegm and mucus from the airways.

The peppery aroma of the oil also reduces the symptoms of cold, cough, and flu. It also relieves chronic coughs and stress-related respiratory distress.

It is a natural remedy for chronic obstructive pulmonary disorders like emphysema and bronchitis, which eventually lead to shortness in breath. However, diffusing elemi essential oil decongests and helps you breathe easily (13).

9. Stimulates body function

Elemi oil acts as a stimulant and tonic. It boosts blood and lymphatic circulation, balances hormonal secretion, regulates bile discharge, and aids digestion.

The oil when inhaled, stimulates thymus gland, an integral component of the immune system, which helps in the development of T cells. Elemi also helps eliminate tiredness.

10. Uplifts your mood

The fresh citrus aroma of elemi oil soothes and calms your mind. In ancient times, Arabs used the oil in incense to attain a meditative state.

You can diffuse the oil using a vaporizer or a diffuser during morning times. It helps you achieve a meditative state faster. Being in the meditative state can have numerous medical and emotional benefits, as it helps you function even more efficiently.

What Blends With Elemi Oil?

Elemi oil blends best with:

How To Use Elemi Oil?

elemi oil benefits for skin

Elemi essential oil in undiluted form is concentrated and potent. Research has found that the oil caused skin irritation to rabbits. The compound methyleugenol in it is believed to be responsible for skin irritation.

According to the International Fragrance Association, the essential oils that are rich in limonene content should be used when the peroxides level are kept low. So, make sure you discuss the method of production and source when purchasing the oil.

  • Topical Application: It is always best to dilute the oil with a suitable carrier oil before applying it topically. Adverse skin reactions have been studied in elemi oil. Few sensitive individuals may also be allergic to it. Make sure you conduct a patch test before using it on the affected skin part. If there is any irritation, wash the place with lukewarm water immediately. You can also use elemi oil in the bath or shower for absorption or massage the diluted oil for physical ailments, muscle pain, scarring, and stiffness.
  • Aromatherapy: You can diffuse the oil using a vaporizer or diffuser for aromatherapy benefits. However, it is better not to have prolonged exposure.
  • Ingestion: Elemi essential oil is strictly not for internal usage.

Side Effects Of Elemi Oil

  • Elemi essential oil may cause adverse skin reactions like irritations especially when you have sensitive skin.  Always use diluted oil with a suitable carrier oil.
  • Elemi oil is also studied to be genotoxic. Do not consume the oil.
  • Avoid exposure of the oil to the eyes and mucous membranes.
  • Avoid using elemi essential oil if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Always consult a professional physician before applying the oil.
  • Make sure the oil is not oxidized before you use. If you sense any change in the aroma or in color, know that the oil is oxidized.  Topical application of oxidized oil causes adverse skin reactions.
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