The Mystery of Onycha

It’s interesting when we use essential oils how one will suddenly call out to us. Onycha (Benzoin) oil has been one of my best friends over the last few weeks, as I’ve been on a roller coaster ride of emotions in the field of romance.

I remembered from years ago reading that a mixture of Onycha oil and Rose oil on the heart is wonderful for any deep emotional upset or trauma. 

Yet my curiosity was also peaked. Onycha has been taking me into states of both calmness and absolute bliss. How can that be?

I decided to explore the mystery of this ancient oil to find out more….

Where does Onycha come from?

The more common name for this oil is Benzoin, derived from the Arabic words luban-jawi, which mean “Incense from Java”. The essential oil is contained in the resin of the Styrax benzoin tree – a large tropical tree found primarily on the Island of Sumatra in Indonesia, and which grows 20 metres (65 feet) in height. 

As with Frankincense, the tree is scraped and sap oozes out…. so it’s no wonder that Onycha is sometimes referred to as “Java Frankincense”.  

This sap hardens into a reddish-brown resin which is then typically mixed with solvents such as alcohol to produce a lighter “resinoid” (which technically isn’t an essential oil).

Why vanillin is important!

Onycha resin contains vanillin as one of its primary constituents, and this gives the essential oil and the resin a beautiful, sweet aroma that reminds me of lolly pops.

Yet vanillin (which is also found in vanilla oil) is a beautiful sedating constituent that helps to sooth the mind when it’s in the grips of any addictive-type behaviour or emotional upheavals.

That’s why Onycha oil is indicated for those who overthink and worry. 

According to Gabriel Mojay in his book Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit, “Benzoin oil softens the mind’s sharp edges, and gently grounds awareness abstracted by troubled thoughts. It is particularly good for nervous anxiousness and worry made worse by exhaustion.”

It is also a perfect oil for anyone feeling emotionally needy or neglected, as its sweet aroma inspires our ability to comfort ourselves and others.

The power of heavy molecules

Onycha also contains diterpenes and triterpenes. These aren’t commonly found in essential oils other than in trace amounts, and they are very heavy molecules that give Onycha both its lovely golden colour, and makes it incredibly viscous – in fact, it’s one of the most viscous (ie. thick) oils you will encounter.

I find I have to take the stopper out of the bottle to pour it, as it’s just too thick to come through the plastic stopper/dripolator.

After putting a drop on my finger and then anointing my heart, my finger remains slightly sticky for a long time afterwards. Its thickness makes it an excellent fixative – meaning that it can be mixed with other oils (eg. in a perfume or blend), and it will help to “hold” their aroma around for longer. Any really thick, viscous oil will do this. And it’s also excellent for use on the skin.

Ancient & Spiritual uses of Onycha

In ancient times, Onycha oil was used as a perfume, and blended in holy anointing oils. This is because of its comforting, soothing and uplifting aroma.

It also has ancient Christian roots, and was an ingredient in the “pure and holy” perfume or incense, which God commanded Moses to make (Exodus 30:34)

Emotionally, Onycha oil offers a beautiful grounding and stabilising influence, whenever we are in the midst of physical or emotional turmoil.

It’s perfect for any spiritual practice, helping to focus the mind for meditation, yoga and prayer. For this very reason it’s a common ingredient in incense used in Hindu and Buddhist temples. 

It also can be used as a “yin” offering to the Earth Spirits and higher beings that watch over us.

If you’d like to try some of this beautiful oil for yourself, please reach out to me at, and I will point you in the right direction for where to obtain it.