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Elemi Essential Oil Uses and Benefits for Health

Elemi Essential Oil

What is Elemi Essential Oil?

Elemi essential oil is a pale yellow extract,  steam distilled from the fragrant oleoresin. The soft oleoresin is tapped from the Canarium luzonicum tree (Burseraceae family),  mostly found in the tropical forests of the Philippines. 

The resin obtained from incisions on the bark has a thin consistency and a fresh, spicy, balsamic and lemony middle note aroma. 

Essential oil of elemi blends well with citronella, lemongrass, clove, cinnamon, black pepper, galbanum, ginger, lavender, myrrh, frankincense, melissa, orange, rosemary, yang yang, lemon and bergamot essential oil, among others.

About Canarium luzonicum tree

Canarium luzonicum (Elemi) is native to Asia, South America and endemic to the Philippines, where is locally known as ‘Pili’.

Manila Elemi or Canarium luzonicum is a large evergreen tree that reaches up to 30 m (98ft) by 20 m (65ft) high upon maturity.

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It is a great source of a fragrant oleoresin which has a wide range of uses in food, medicine, and industrial applications.

Elemi oleoresin, as well as the oil obtained from it, has medicinal value. It is antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, antirheumatic, antispasmodic, and rubefacient. Also, it is widely used against fevers and chills, arthritis, burns, etc.

On the other hand, the bark is used for postpartum baths.

Seeds from C. luzonicum can be consumed raw or cooked, and its nuts are sweet and have a delicious flavor.

The oil extracted from its seeds is used in cooking, and the fruit pulp is cooked while young shoots can be eaten raw.

C. luzonicum, belongs to a family of 550 species, and only four are the most known: Canarium luzonicum, C. indicum, C. ovatum, and C. album.

Elemi Essential Oil in History

The essential oil of elemi was used by Ancient Egyptian as a preservative in the Egyptian embalming process.

Also, Chinese ceremonies documented since the 7th century, said that Chinese herbalists used elemi oil in a variety of religious ceremonies and rituals.

On the other hand,  elemi oil was used as a soldier’s remedy In the 17th century.   J. J. Wecker, a pioneering physician and practitioner, used elemi oil in balms to treat soldiers who had been injured in battle.

Chemical Constituents of Elemi Essential Oil

The main chemical components present in the oil are limonene, alpha-phellandrene, elemol, elemicin, terpineol, terpinolene, dipentene, p-cymene, alpha -pinene, 1,8 cineole and carvone among others.

Properties of Elemi Essential Oil

Extracts and pure compounds derived from Canarium L., as the case of elemi essential oil, were reported to have a variety of pharmacological activities such as: antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, rubefacient, cicatrisant, antispasmodic, antirheumatic, expectorant, stimulant, tonic, vulnerary, antitumor, anti-inflammatory, hepatoprotective, analgesic and anti-diabetic.

Uses of Elemi Essential Oil

Elemi oil is commonly used to relieve some conditions such as: 

  • Respiratory tract infections
  • Chronic coughs
  • Catarrh
  • Stress-related bronchial conditions
  • Pain due to cold
  • Joint and muscular pain
  • Sprains
  • Fever
  • Muscular fatigue
  • Headache and migraine
  • Infectious skin problems
  • Wounds
  • Cuts
  • Fatigue

Elemi essential oil Uses and Benefits

Commercial uses of Canarium L. 

Elemi derived from the Arabic ‘Al-lami’ is a collective term applied to several oleoresins obtained from different plants of the family Burseraceae Kunth.

The most important and widely known of these oleoresins is Manila Gum Elemi which exudates from the trunk of Canarium luzonicum Miq. or Canarium commune L.

Nowadays, elemi essential oil is also used in incense, as a perfume fixative for soaps and cosmetics, and occasionally to flavor foods and beverages.

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Elemi is used in ointments and plasters in Pharmaceutics.  It is also widely used in producing varnishes, plastics, printing inks, lacquers, and paints.

In the Philippines, locals use it as a varnishing material for padding boats.

To supplement, people living in forests use the resin as an illuminant. The resin is extracted and rolled in leaves, then set on fire like a torch. The light from the resin is brilliantly bright and last for hours.

Benefits of Elemi Essential Oil

Antiseptic Activity

Elemi essential oil has the ability to kill some microbes, bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

It is useful for treating skin wounds, such as cuts, scrapes and buns to protect against every type of infection.

Internally, elemi oil can also help to prevent infections in the urinary tract, bladder, colon, intestines, kidney and stomach. Besides, elemi oil works to fight even serious infections, like sepsis and tetanus.

Natural Expectorant 

Elemi oil works well as an expectorant because reduce congestion in the wind pipe, nasal tract, and the lungs, thereby making breathing easier.

When colds and flu cause congestion, coughs and breathing issues, elemi essential oil is a natural way to get relief. 

It has the ability to loosen phlegm that clogs the breathing passages in the lungs and nasal cavity thus, helping to fight infections.

On the other hand, elemi oil is also helpful for asthma, emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) conditions.

Elemi essential oil uses and benefits

Excellent Analgesic

The essential oil of elemi is a powerful analgesic. As a natural pain relief, elemi oil can ease head pain, joint pain, muscle aches and earaches, among others.  In addition,  it also helps to reduce fever.

There are not know side effects for elemi oil as the ones that come from over-the-counter medications like aspirin and/or ibuprofen and, unlike prescription painkillers, this essential oil is non-habit forming.


Substances with tonic properties, as the case of elemi oil, improve functioning by enhancing organic processes such as the circulatory, respiratory, nervous, digestive, cardiovascular and endocrine systems. 

Tonics also help protect your body against infections and other complications that could affect the body, both internally and externally.


At the same time that toning, elemi oil also stimulate the body, helping to improve its natural processes and enhance overall health.

Elemi oil works aiding circulation to triggering the secretion of hormones, thus boosting the digestive system. It also acts on the nervous system to stimulate nervous responses.

Besides from enhancing blood circulation, stimulants perform a multitude of necessary activities for the body.  A stimulant helps instigate hormonal secretions, aids digestion, controls bile discharge and many other bodily functions.

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Additionally, stimulants induce neuron responses, and improve respiration, regulate blood flow and menses, and also help lactating moms.

Benefits for Skin

Thanks to its stimulating property, which helps improve circulation, among others, elemi oil removes toxins and harmful impurities from the body acting as a natural skin depurative.  It prevents breakouts, pigmentation, inflammation and dull skin.

The essential oil of elemi  is often used for reversal and prevention of wrinkles, scarring, and acne scars.  Besides, due to its potent cicatrisant properties, elemi oil helps to heal the epidermis and trigger cellular regeneration to repair and strengthen the skin.

In addition, the oil also contains a disinfecting property that prevents infection from fresh cuts and wounds. Elemi beautifies and brings elasticity to sagging skin, tones and lifts the complexion. The oil rejuvenates sun-damaged skin and increases the rate at which skin cells are renewed. It also prevents sagging and slows down skin aging.

Elemi Oil uses


Elemi Oil has strong anti-inflammatory properties, especially effective for muscles and joints as well as the respiratory system.

Warnings and Precautions when Using Elemi Essential Oil

Tisserand and Young state that Elemi Oil may contain methyleugenol. Their dermal maximum recommendation based on the possibility of 0.3% methyleugenol content is 6.7%.

Although elemi oil is generally regarded as safe, due its content of 1,8 cineole (which can cause depression of the central nervous system and breathing difficulties), do not use on children, especially close to their faces or mucous membranes.

Also, avoid using it when the oil is old and oxidized, since it can cause skin sensitization.

Where to Buy Elemi Essential Oil?

Normally, good quality oils, that is, 100% pure and not mixed with other substances, can be found in specialized natural herb stores. If you can not reach a trusted naturist or herbalist shop near you, we recommend Elemi Essential Oil from Miracle Botanicals.

Tips for a better performance and duration of your oils:

  • Store them in a dark glass bottle, never plastic, not even when blended with a carrier oil.
  • Keep them in cool, dark places, away from sources of heat and light.
  • Maintain the container that holds it tightly closed, since they are very volatile and also, their properties would be lost or modified.

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