Tincture of benzoin is a solution made of the resin that comes from the bark of a benzoin tree. This resin is then combined with alcohol to make a tincture. The primary medical purpose of tincture of benzoin is to protect the skin from pathogens. This solution is often used as an antiseptic barrier between the skin and products that contain an adhesive. Side effects of tincture of benzoin are rare, although some people may develop an allergic reaction to this product.
As a skin protectant, tincture of benzoin may be applied to the skin before using an adhesive product such as a bandage or medical tape. The use of this solution is thought to make the adhesive remain sticky for an extended period of time so that the bandage or gauze does not fall off between changes. Those who encounter skin sensitivity when using adhesives may notice fewer symptoms when using tincture of benzoin before applying the adhesive.
When used on minor scrapes or cuts, tincture of benzoin is believed to act as an antiseptic, protecting the injury from the risk of infection. This product may have the same effect of blisters or canker sores and is thought to help damaged skin heal more quickly. As an aromatherapy tool, this tincture may help to treat respiratory conditions such as emphysema or bronchitis, although there is some degree of debate within the medical community concerning this use of the product.
Massage therapists sometimes use tincture of benzoin to soothe tired muscles and improve overall blood circulation. A few drops are often added to olive oil or other massage oils and used to stimulate the blood vessels, particularly those of the hands and feet. Those who experience nerve pain may also benefit from this type of massage.
Most people are able to use tincture of benzoin without experiencing any negative side effects. In rare situations, a severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis may occur. Symptoms such as facial swelling, difficulty swallowing, or labored breathing should be reported to a doctor immediately. If the throat swells so much that oxygen cannot reach the organs of the body, death may occur within a matter of minutes. Emergency medical treatment begins in the ambulance, and if reported quickly, many people are able to survive this type of reaction, although a special injectible medication may need to be carried for the remainder of a person's life.