Aromatic Gums and Resins in Incense


Gum Acacia, Gum Arabic Acacia senegal, A.seyal from Arabia, Senegal and Somalia where it is called chaar gund, char goond, or meska. It is a natural edible gum comprised of hardened sap from the acacia trees. It has many uses including incense cones.

Gum Acaroidea, Gum Blackboy is an aromatic resinous gum from the Australian grass tree or Blackboy-a native plant from the genus Xanthorrhoea. Their trunks abound with a powerful aromatic resin known as Blackboy Gum or Acaroid Gum.

Gum Agarwood, Aloeswood Aquilaria malaccensis sometimes known as jinko or oud is a rare and precious wood that is burned as incense and used as perfume. Western and Oriental people enjoy its distinctive, soothing scent and spiritual influence in their meditations but stocks of the wild source have dwindled and trees now listed as potentially endangered.

Gum Amber – several fossilized resins are known as amber with those from the northern hemisphere claiming first to be known and that from the Baltic region most valued. The resin originates from several species and some are commercially produced from current pine resins New Zealand Amber or Kauri Gum is a subfossil Copal from the kauri trees Agathis australis forests that covered the islands before white settlement.

Gum Ammoniac is an aromatic gum from damaged stems of the tree Ammoniac Dorema ammoniacum. This occurs naturally through stings of a beetle. The gum is a traditional glue for gilding and applying gold leaf after extensive filtering and preparation and was used by scribes in ancient times as it is used by artists and craftsmen today. The gum can be applied successfully to dry on various materials and surfaces. It has no outstanding scent but it was once considered sacred and in use in incense in Libya in worship of Jupiter.

Gum Asafoetida from Iran and Afghanistan is used in food, medicine and perfume ingredient. In its raw state its odour is highly objectionable but can be used in food preparations to advantage by those familiar with traditional preparations. Other uses are as animal baits for wolf and some fish; as a fly trap for moths. Humans utilize it in preparing a positive psychic field against evil influences.

Gum, Balm of Gilead, Balsam of Mecca Commiphora gileadensis from the Mediterranean region and Arabia. Cherished for its healing properties and sought after by kings and temple priests. There is considerable mystique associated with this substance and its magical properties.

Gum Balsam of Peru /Balsam of Tolu Myroxylon balsamum, M.peruiferum, Toluifera pereirae, used in medicine and also in incense and perfume preparations. A reaction to Balsam of Peru is used to indicate any allergic reaction to fragrance. It is a sticky aromatic harvested from cutting the bark of the tree Myroxolon balsamum, a tree that is native to El Salvador. Its scent is a mixture of vanilla and cinnamon with citric tones is in demand in the perfume business. It is adaptable to either stronger character perfumes, or gentle florals and provides a reliable fixative.

Gum Bdellium (Gum Guggal) Commiphora wightii, C. africana, C.stocksiana (Indian)

Is an aromatic gum that is exudes from the tree. It is used as a perfume fixative and in some perfumers’ unique formulations. Known since ancient times with Theophrasts first to mention it as a thorn tree producing tears of resin resembling myrrh. In China, bdellium, known as an hsi hsiang or called the Parthian aromatic was among the varieties of incense that reached China along the Silk Route.

Gum Benzoin, Gum Benjamin, Benzoin Tree, Styrax, Styrax benzoin This is a tree from Indonesia and Sumatra, the main source of benzoin resin. Its common names are also, Loban (Arabic) or kemenyan in Indonensia and Malaysia. This resin once commonly called Gum Benjamin was used as a perfume, incense and as a medicine in the early trade of the Phoenicians in the period B.C. Legend has it that Styrax incense serves to deter snakes that inhibited harvesting. The resin is balsamic and is used in perfumes, incense and also medicinally. It has popular appeal because of is pleasing vanilla type of scent and the resin’s fixative properties. It remains a major component of the type of Christian church incense.

Gum Cedarwood Cedrus libani Cedar of Lebanon pine cone showing flecks of resin as used in the mummification process of the ancient Egyptians. For many hundreds of years the Cedar of Lebanon has been the national emblem of Lebanon. It is one of the most sacred trees yet presently suffering present conditions that threaten the trees that have survived centuries. The resin is believed to directly impart strength to those who inhale and are responsive to its fumes and influence.

Gum Cistus, Gum labdanum Cistus ladaniferus or Rock Rose is a species found in Spain that produces this sticky substance with strong aromatic character. Once in great demand as an aromatic.

Gum Copal Hymenaea courbaril, Bursena odorata is used in manufacturing of incense and to specifically offer viscosity where industrial purposes require it. Copal is a name given to the aromatic tree resin that has a composition of immature amber. The name copalli from the old Mayan language means incense and still in use as such by indigenous people of Central America. Copal was also grown in East Africa (the common species there being Hymenaea verrucosa.

Gum Dammar comes from the tree Canarium strictum and sometimes collected from the ground. It is used in foods as well as incense and other preparations such as varnishing of oil paintings when the gum is mixed with turpentine.

Gum Dragon’s Blood is the grey or yellowish resin from several genera Shorea, Balancocarpus and Hopea obtained by tapping the trees. However the bright red resin known as Dragon’s Blood comes from distinct species of Croton, Dracaena, Daemonorops, Calamus and Pterocarpus. Valued in medicine and in used for centuries as incense.

Gum Elemi The tropical Elemi tree Canarium luzonicum,is native to the Philippines and produces a soft resin with a light, fresh aroma, softly spicy with a hint of lemon. It is a delightful room fragrance. he scent has a harmonising effect particularly suited to meditation and visualization, aiding aa state of deep peacefulness without drowsiness.

Gum Frankincense, Olibanum Boswellia sacra, B. carteri produces a resin imported direct from Somalia. This is the most well known and valued traditional resinous aromatics used for centuries for its subtle influence to lift the human spirit – whether by thought, devotion, prayer or meditation. It is the most favoured aromatic used as an oil or as resin with legend strongly associated with the Christ child and the gift from the Three Wise Men. Trees have been heavily exploited and are not considered as endangered species.

Gum Kauri, New Zealand Amber, kauri gum from Agathis australis, like true amber, sometimes includes insects and plant material in its early stages or fossilized form. Other Kauri species also exude gum from the heavy trunks or branches. The burning fumes are used in traditional healing practices and most species provide incense material.

Gum Mastic resin from the tree Pistacia lentiscus is a transparent, lemon-white coloured, tear-shaped natural resin popular in ancient Greece, Egypt, and the Mediterranean region. It was a key ingredient in their ancient “Kyphi” recipes in creating a light, balsamic, fresh, and gentle fragrance called “the fragrance that pleases the gods.” It is cleansing, clarifying and mentally refreshing. Mastic as well as providing a subtle brain tonic was used in embalming. In addition to its use in incense it is used as a chewing gum and also in foods. Mastic works well for meditation and reflection with its bright, radiant energy.

Gum Myrrh is the aromatic natural oleoresin from a small, thorny tree species of the genus Commiphora,myrrh and C. momol from Yemen and Ethiopia. The gum is yellowish and may be clear or opaque. It darkens deeply as it ages, and white streaks emerge. Myrrh was used in the religious rituals of the ancient Egyptians and was an ingredient in Ketoret, the sacred incense of Jerusalem as recorded in the Hebrew Bible and Talmud. As the Christian legend states, myrrh was a gift of the Three Wise Men was to help Jesus him overcome the pain that was to follow at his crucifixion. Myrrh is the medicine to relieve pain of many kinds. It is a usual component of incense used in healing rituals.

Gum Opoponax, Sweet Myrrh, Opopanax chironium The plant thrives in the warmer climates of Iran, Greece and Somalia but is reasonably adaptable in cooler climates although the resin content is claimed to be inferior in quality. The highly flammable resin is burned as incense has a balsamic scent likened to lavender. It is used medicinally to relieve spasms, asthma and hysteria. Legend has it that Opopanax was regarded by King Solomon as the noblest of incense gums.

Imperial Opoponax is based on a mixture of sweet resinous aroma of opoponax blended with oriental ingredients considered the noblest such as benzoin, sandalwood, amber and vanilla.

Gum Pine Resin refers to the gum from a range of sources of conifers or pines including Pinus jefferyi from U.S. and Pinus pinaster, P. palustris, P. sylvestris and P. halepensis a from Europe. Many resins are valued as constituents of incense and perfumes. The English word originates from the late 14th century Old French resine, from L. resina “resin,” from Greek rhetine “resin of the pine,” of unknown earlier origin. The gum is believed to hold the captured energies and vitality of the sun and it represents powerful masculine traits and properties. Resin has a huge range of practical applications.

Gum Sandarac, Gum Juniper comes from Callitris quadrivalcis in Africa and other conifers in Morocco and Australia. Pale yellow resin tears are brittle and clear as amber. This is one of the oldest known therapeutic resins. It is used by artists and those desiring work requiring a light yellow resin. It is a common ingredient in incense and male toiletries.

Gum Sweetgum, Liquidambar formosana, L. Styrax, L. styraciflua The sap harvested from the Liquidambar tree hardens enough to be chewed like a chewing gum that heals many problems as is the custom of many in the southern American states. The Chinese believe its value in medicine and are aware of its subtle beneficial influence and valued scent.

Gum Tragacanth from Astragalus gummifer is native to Iran. The natural dried sap from this and several other species including A. adscendens, A. brachycalyx and A tragacanthus, are sources of shiraz gum or gum dragon. This is highly valued as medicine when applied externally for burns and traditionally for tumours. Modern research is exploring its anti-tumour properties and there are indications it could stimulate the immune system. There is insufficient evidence at present of its full value in aromatherapy when applied to psychiatric practice.

Gum Yerba Santa, Gum Bush, Sacred Bush Eriodictyon glutinosum from California is aromatic and used in medicine once to mask the taste of quinine. Yerba santa, which literally means sacred herb in Spanish, used for centuries by native Americans in healing a variety of illnesses, mainly related the lungs and digestion. The herb also used as a tonic to cleanse the blood, tone the nervous system and stimulate the mind. It has a sweet taste but with a hint of bitterness. The herb is used in native ritualistic use burnt as incense as well as in liquid extract as oral medicine.


Source by Sally Wilson