The origins of Elemi essential oil
Elemi essential oil comes from the fragrant gum of Canarium luzonicum trees. Found in the Philippines, these trees are part of the same family as Frankincense and Myrrh. When the bark is cut, the trees produce a sharp, green, aromatic gum. Elemi has a long history of traditional use in the Philippines is becoming increasingly well-known in modern aromatherapy.
Elemi was an important part of life in ancient Egypt. It was used for embalming, skincare, and medicine, similar to other oils in the Burseraceae family like Palo Santo. In the Middle East, it was valued for its antibacterial effects, helping wounds heal and reducing scars. In the 16th century, Elemi came to Europe and became part of folk medicine. It was later used to treat the battle wounds of soldiers.
Harvesting and production
Canarium luzonicum is large tree with spreading branches. It grows up to 30 meters tall and makes nuts called ‘pili.’ The resin, which is white or yellow, is harvested by cutting the tree during the rainy season. The collected gum looks like honey crystals and it is steam distilled to produce the oil. The essential oil of Elemi has a woody and balsamic aroma with hints of citrus and spice.
Uses of Elemi oil
Elemi oil is a top note. It is enlivening, energizing, cleansing and clarifying. For the skin it has similar properties to Frankincense. It is perfect for dry skin or more mature skin, and generally as a skin tonic.
The essential oil of Elemi is becoming increasingly popular in aromatherapy and high end skincare. For use at home you can add it to an unscented cream or lotion to make a nourishing moisturiser for daily use. A dilution of around 2% is safe for most people.
Elemi also has excellent protective properties. It can be inhaled or used in a diffuser to support the respiratory system and provide protection over the winter months.
On the emotional side, Elemi oil is strengthening, balancing and centering. It is ideal in a blend for meditation where it helps with focus and concentration. Elemi is a good choice if you’re agitated, tired, or feeling sluggish. It also has a bit of a sparkle and spice which bring a sense of positivity and motivation.
Blending with Elemi essential oil
Elemi blends well with spice oils such as Clove, Cinnamon, Nutmeg or Cardamom. It also suits citrus or lemony oils such as Lemon, Lemongrass or Palmarosa. For an energising effect it’s great with Rosemary. It is ideal in a personal diffuser – just add a few drops of Elemi to the wick and then add any other oils you choose. A great way to make a personalised blend to carry with you.
Click the link to read our full article on Elemi essential oil, including recipes and blending tips.