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Related to Frankincense and Myrrh, Elemi (Canarium luzonicum) Supports Skin and Respiratory Health

Elemi is an essential oil I love. It has a lemony, peppery aroma, with hints of wood and balsam. It is distilled from the resin of the large tropical tree Canarium luzonicum tree from the Philippines. It is related to aromatic resin producing trees of the Burseraceae family such as frankincense (Boswellia carterii) and myrrh (Commiphora myrrha).

Only when the Canarium luzonicum tree spouts leaves and the flowers start to bloom it produces a yellow resin that solidifies on contact with the air. The distilled resin produces the exotic, beautiful essential oil.

Like most oils made from resins elemi has wonderful skin supporting properties but is typically less costly than oils such as frankincense and myrrh.

Elemi is rich in limonene, a monoterpene that is reported to activate white blood cells (1), and has analgesic (2) and anti-inflammatory (3), and anti-microbial (4) properties, and is a penetration enhancer, which means it helps the skin to absorb substances more readily.

Elemi also contains fair amounts of the monoterpenes a-phellandrene and sabine as well as the sesquiterpenol elemol. It also contains a bit of the ether elemicin.

a-phellandrene has been shown to have anti-bacterial (5) and anti-spasmodic (6) properties. Sabinene has not been well researched but monoterpenes are often decongesting, deodorizing, and skin penetration enhancers.

Likewise elemol and elemicin are not well researched but sesquiterpenols are often anti-inflammatory cooling, and grounding and ethers are quite anti-spasmodic and sometimes anti-infections.

Energetically elemi is said to help reduce fear and motivate change and release blocked energy.

These compounds work to give elemi it's benefits. Elemi can be used to help reduce heavy mucus, support respiratory health, and calm coughs. It supports healthy tissue regrowth and can be used to reduce scars and support skin health and healing.

How to use:

For respiratory support try using elemi in a steam blend. A stock blend containing ravintsara or eucalyputus, tea- tree, elemi, and a fir oil such as Siberian fir or white fir would help fight germs, open airways, calm coughs, and support respiratory health. You could use equal amounts (say 5-10 drops each in a stock bottle or reuse an empty EO bottle) or go heavier on oils you like. You only need a drop or two for steaming. Steam blends are excellent to use at the first sign of a cold several times a day for several days to help support the body and can often help you stay well. (For more on steam tents click here to visit my blog post on steaming) Elemi would also be excellent in a chest rub along with lemon, eucalyptus, or black pepper to help support the lungs.

For skin support Elemi blends well with frankincense, myrrh, and lavender and can be added to skin lotions or used in skin care products such as toners and face washes. Some like to blend into solid perfume for emotional support.

If you have questions about elemi, aromatherapy, or essential oils contact Tricia.

Examples of research on components mentioned.

1. Hamada M, Uezu K, Matsushita J et al (2002) Distribution and immune responses resulting from oral administration of d-limonene in rats. Journal of Nutritional Science & Vitaminology (Tokyo) 48:155-160

2. Do Amaral JF, Silva MI, Neto MR et al (2007) Antinociceptive effect of the monoterpene R-(+)-limonene in mice. Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin 30:1217-1220

3. Souza MC, Siani AC, Ramos MF et al (2003) Evaluation of anti-inflammatory activity of essential oils from two Asteraceae species. Pharmazie 58:582-586

4. Nannapaneni R, Chalova VI, Crandall PG et al (2009) Campylobacter and Arcobacter species sensitivity to commercial orange oil fractions. International Journal of Food Microbiology 129:43-49

5. Deans S G, Svoboda K P (1988) Antibacterial activity of French tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus Linn.) essential oil and its constituents during ontology. Journal of Horticultural Science 63 (3): 503-508

6. Riyazi A, Hensel RA, Bauer K et al (2007) The effect of the volatile oil from ginger rhizomes (Zingiber officinale), its fractions and isolated compounds on the 5-HT3 receptor complex and the serotoninergic system of the rat ileum. Planta Medica 73:355-362


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