Synonyms: Loban, Sumatra Benzoin.

Biological Source: It is a balsamic resin obtained by Styrax species. There are two types of benzoin available on the market

  1. Sumatra benzoin: It is obtained from Styrax benzoin Dry and or Styrax paralleloneurus Perkins (Family – Styraceae).
  2. Siam benzoin: It is obtained from Styrax tonkinesis (Family – Styraceae).

Geographical source: Sumatra benzoin is produced in trees grown in South-Eastern Asia whereas siam benzoin is found in trees grown in Thailand and Vietnam.

Collection and Preparation of Benzoin

It belongs to the pathological resin category. It is collected by making the incision on the trunk part near the base of the tree. It is collected from 5 to 6-year-old plants gown wildly or cultivated. The resin is formed only after incision. The initial product obtained after an incision is discarded into medicines. The second or next flow is collected which oozes out of the plant and uses medicinally. The collected resinous matter is allowed to sun dry and becomes solidified. Approximately 10 kg of benzoin is collected per tree. Benzoin trees are not found in India hence drug is imported from other countries like Indonesia.

Sumatra benzoin and Siam Benzoin
Fig.1: Sumatra benzoin and Siam Benzoin

Macroscopical characters of Benzoin

Sumatra Benzoin:

  • Colour: Grey or greyish brown.
  • Odour: Characteristic and aromatic.
  • Taste: Sweet and slightly acrid.
  • Form: Lump or tear form.
  • Size: Varying size.
  • Texture: Uneven.

Siam Benzoin:

  • Colour: Rusty- brown or Yellowish-brown.
  • Odour: Pleasant and vanilla flavour.
  • Taste: Sweet and slightly acrid.
  • Form: Hard and brittle masses.
  • Size: Varying size.
  • Fracture: Brittle.

Chemical constituent of Benzoin

It contains free balsamic acids i.e. benzoic acid and cinnamic acids and its derived esters. It also contains triterpenoid acids like summaresinolic acid and siaresinolic acids.

Siam benzoin contains esters of coniferyl benzoate (76 percent). Other constituents are styrol, vanillin, and phenyl propyl cinnamate. Siam benzoin contains an inadequate amount of cinnamic acid so it does not give odour of benzaldehyde when heated with potassium permagnate solution.

Chemical structure of Sumaresinolic acid and Siaresinolic acid
Fig.2: Chemical structure of Sumaresinolic acid and Siaresinolic acid

Chemical test of Benzoin

  1. To 1 gm benzoin add 4 ml potassium permagnate solution and warm it. Sumatra benzoin will produce odour of benzaldehyde.
  2. Take 2.5 gm benzoin and add 10 ml ether, shake it well and pour a few ml (2 to 3 ml) of extract into a porcelain dish. Now add 2 to 3 drops of sulphuric acid into the dish. Sumatra benzoin produces deep brown colour whereas siam benzoin produces deep purple colour.
  3. Take a small quantity of benzoin in a test tube and heat it. Cover the opening of the test tube with a glass plate and allow it to cool. Crystals of cinnamic acid are observed under a microscope.
  4. Alcoholic solution of drug produces a milky white solution with water.

Uses of Benzoin

It is used as an irritating expectorant, diuretic, and carminative. Externally it is applied as an antiseptic and protective. It is also used in the form of inhalants in the treatment of upper respiratory tract infections. It is also used in tincture form. Industrially, it is used in odour fixation of incenses, soaps, perfumes, cosmetics, and other preparation. It also masks the taste of pharmaceutical preparations. It retards the rancidity of fats and oils (in benzoated lard preparation).

Make sure you also check our other amazing Article on : Pterocarpus
Sharing Is Caring:

Leave a Comment