Tincture of Benzoin (Friar's Balsam) Uses and Benefits

| Modified on Jul 07, 2020
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Benzoin Tincture Uses

by Deirdre Layne
Published June 14, 2020
Updated July 7, 2020

Tincture of Benzoin, also known as Friar's Balsam, is a neat little inexpensive item that you might want to keep in your medicine cabinet. It has traditionally been used externally to treat wounds and blisters, and in steam preparations for coughs, bronchitis, and asthma attacks.

What is Tincture of Benzoin?

Benzoin products are made from a resin from a group of Styrax trees that grow in tropical regions.

The resin is produced after they cut into the bark of trees that are at least seven years old. The resin hardens to give a grey-brown solid with a vanilla-like odor. Tincture of benzoin is then made by soaking benzoin resin in alcohol.

Friar's Balsam smells a bit like vanilla with balsam undertones.

Historical Uses of Benzoin Tincture

Throughout its 600 year history, Friar's Balsam has been known as Balsamic Tincture, Balsamum Traumaticum, Jesuits' Drops, and Jerusalem Drops.

It was one of the most popular natural remedies during the Victorian era. A formulation was invented by Joshua Ward, an English doctor, in 1760.

Ingredients included benzoin resin, Cape aloes or Barbados aloes, and storax resin.

Here is Tincture Benzoini Composita listed in the British Pharmacopoeia of 1867 on Google Books.  Steam inhalation of Friar's Balsam was often recommended to thin mucus and relieve asthma.

Friar's Balsam Modern Day Uses

Today, benzoin tincture is most often used to make a bandage stick to the skin longer. What it does is form a coating over the skin, which protects the skin from harsh body fluids and adhesives from bandages.

It is also used by athletes and the military for blister protection. Doctors also apply it under a cast because it reduces itching and protects the skin.

One more typical use is to heal painful canker sores.

Research and Studies

A 2011 study to analyze 25 commonly used essential oils' antioxidant activities showed that benzoin contained +90.64% of DPPH free radical scavenging activity (Huang, 2011).

Friar's Balsam Video

Watch Earth Clinic's new YouTube video on Friar's Balsam to learn how to use Friar's Balsam for bandages and blisters!

Have you ever used Tincture of Benzoin for wounds, bandages, lung conditions or blisters? Please send us your feedback!

Bandage Adhesion

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Jon Mccroy (Ireland) on 07/07/2020
5 out of 5 stars

Tincture of Benzoin - I have used this product for many years to increase the adhesion of bandages. Helps keep bandages on for a number of days. Very inexpensive and can be found at the local apothecary.

Friar's Balsam

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Jane (Seattle, WA) on 01/22/2013
5 out of 5 stars

Growing up in England in the 1930s, I remember that we used to use Friar's Balsam for cuts and minor wounds. It was also used for lingering coughs by inhaling a few drops in boiling water.

EC: Friar's Balsam is an ages-old herbal variation on tincture of benzoin.