Elemi (Canarium luzonicum) is a tropical tree native to the Phillipines. It has been known and used in the Middle East for thousands of years and became popular in Europe in the 15th century. The tree is closely related to those that give us Frankincense and Myrrh and, like them, exudes a natural resin subsequently yielding an exotic essential oil. It is only when the tree sprouts leaves that the pale yellow resin is produced. The resin solidifies on contact with the air and stops when the last leaf falls.
The oil is yellowish with a very pleasant aroma, somewhat like Frankincense with a slight hint of lemon. Its main constituents are elemol, elemicine, dipentene, terpineol, limonene and phellandrene.
Elemi was often used in old fashioned unguents, and is still employed in medicinal preparations and pharmaceutical plasters. It is also used in some soaps and incense. The Egyptians used Elemi resin for embalming, and it has a very long history of use in skin care and for respiratory complaints.
In more modern times it was often used in place of Frankincense and came into its own when Frankincense became scarce and expensive due to crop failures because of drought and being grown in war zones.
It is effective for chest infections, especially where there is a lot of phlegm, such as chronic bronchitis. If used as a steam inhalation it can be beneficial for catarrh and sinusitis.
Apparently helps to stem the flow of bodily secretions such as perspiration and has been credited with a tonic and clearing effect on the urinary system.
An excellent oil for skin care, especially for mature skin. It has a general rejuvenating effect and reduces wrinkles. It is also antiseptic and helps speed the healing process.
Elemi has analgesic, antiviral, bactericide, balsamic, expectorant, fungicide, tonic and vulnerary properties.
It blends with Cardamon, Frankincense, Galbanum, Geranium, Ginger, Lavender, Litsea Cubeba, Melissa, Orange and Rosewood.
Elemi is non-toxic, non-irritant (except to very sensitive skins) and non-sensitising
Elemi is also used in oil and resinoid form as a fixative but also as fragrance components in detergents, cosmetics and perfumes. It is occasionally used as a flavouring ingredient in food products, alcoholic and soft drinks.
Elemi should not be used during pregnancy or whilst breast feeding.
Most essential oils are quite safe for home use. Used sensibly they are very helpful in many situations to promote good health, relaxation and well-being. It should be remembered that essential oils are extremely powerful and should always be diluted, usually 1 to 2%.
Do not take essential oils by mouth. Store essential oils out of reach of babies and children. Avoid contact with the eyes. If in doubt about the use of any oil, consult a qualified aromatherapist.
Analgesic - Reduces pain
Antiviral - Inhibits viruses
Bactericide - Inhibits bacteria
Balsamic - Soothing
Expectorant - Helps to expel phlegm
Fungicide - Inhibits yeast growth
Tonic - Strengthens & enlivens body/organs
Vulnerary - Aids wound healing
Unguents - Ointment or salve
By Myra Lewis
All rights reserved. Any reproducing of this article must have the author name and all the links intact.