Storax is a unique type of herbal medicine that has been used for a variety of therapeutic, cosmetic, and industrial purposes for centuries.

Medicinal use of storax dates as far back as 10,000 B.C. It has been used in various herbal medicine modalities all over the world (1).

This article provides an overview of what storax is, potential health benefits associated with its use, and relevant safety and dosage information.

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Storax is a type of oily resin, or balsam, derived from the sap of trees commonly known as Sweetgum.

There are several Sweetgum species, but the ones most often used for storax production are the Turkish and American varieties, L. orientalis and L. styraciflua (1).

Storax derived from L. orientalis is commonly known as Asian storax, while storax produced from L. styraciflua is often referred to as American storax.

It’s been used to treat a wide array of physical ailments, including wounds, sores, coughs, diarrhea, cancer, and various types of viral and bacterial infections. It’s also often used to make soap, perfume, and incense (1).

Summary

Storax is a type of resin derived from the sap of Sweetgum trees. It has been used medicinally for centuries to treat various ailments, including bacterial and viral infections.

Storax is commonly used to treat various illnesses and symptoms, but modern research on its effectiveness for most purposes is lacking.

Most research focusing on the therapeutic potential of storax is limited to test tube and animal studies. Thus, there’s no guarantee that the same or similar results would occur in humans.

That said, the available evidence suggests storax may be beneficial for reducing inflammation and fighting certain types of viral and bacterial infections.

May help fight viral and bacterial infections

Storax contains various compounds with potent antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, including cinnamic and shikimic acids (1).

Experts theorize that these compounds are the primary reason storax may have such broad medicinal potential.

Test tube studies have shown that cinnamic acid — found in both Asian and American varieties of storax — may inhibit the growth of several types of bacteria known to cause urinary tract and wound infections (2).

Furthermore, test tube studies have suggested that shikimic acid found in American storax may inhibit the growth of the H1N1 strain of influenza virus (3, 4).

However, more research in humans is needed.

May lower inflammation

Storax has historically been used to treat various inflammatory conditions such as cancer, skin rashes, and diarrhea.

Many of the plant compounds found in storax are known to have strong antioxidant properties that may reduce inflammation and alleviate symptoms associated with inflammation (1).

Test tube studies have revealed that extracts from the leaves and stems of L. styraciflua — the plant from which American storax is produced — inhibit cells responsible for promoting inflammation in the body (5).

Although these results are encouraging, more research in humans is needed.

May promote healing of wounds and ulcers

Storax is often used in traditional medicine practices across cultures to treat various types of wounds.

Animal studies indicate that the anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial compounds found in storax may play a role in stimulating the healing of skin wounds and ulcerations of the digestive tract.

In a 2012 study, pigs whose wounds were treated topically with storax healed faster and regrew thicker skin tissue than the control group. Another study, in 2013, found that storax effectively prevented stomach ulcers in rats (6, 7).

Ultimately, more research is needed to determine how and whether storax may promote wound healing and tissue repair in humans.

Summary

There’s very little research available on the health benefits of storax in humans. Still, test tube and animal studies suggest it may help reduce inflammation, heal wounds, and fight infections.

Storax is often sold as a liquid extract or essential oil, but it’s also available in capsule form.

Essential oils are meant to be diffused in the air or diluted with a carrier oil and applied to the skin for aromatherapy purposes. Do not swallow essential oils. Take only the capsule form by mouth and follow the manufacturer’s directions.

Whenever using herbal medications, be aware they’re not monitored by government agencies. Product labels may not accurately describe the ingredients, and products may be contaminated. Research the manufacturing companies before choosing an herbal product.

Storax is sometimes used as an ingredient in salves and balms intended for topical use. It’s a functional ingredient in Compound Benzoin Tincture, a medicine used as an inhalant to treat respiratory infections.

Storax is also frequently sold in the form of a sticky, oily resin used for burning as incense.

At this point, there’s not enough evidence to recommend using storax for any medical purpose. But if you’re interested in trying it, be mindful of the potential side effects.

Possible side effects

Storax is generally considered safe for most people when consumed in food, used topically, or ingested as a supplement. However, it’s not completely risk-free.

Mild side effects such as diarrhea or rash have been reported after using storax, and ingesting large quantities could potentially put some people at risk of severe side effects, such as kidney failure (8).

Dosage

Unfortunately, there isn’t enough scientific evidence available to determine the most appropriate dose of storax, so the safest route is to adhere to the dosing instructions on the supplement label.

Keep in mind that oral ingestion of essential oils is not recommended.

Moreover, storax is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding people or children due to a lack of safety data.

If possible, choose only high quality supplements that have been tested for purity and potency by a third-party organization such as NSF International or US Pharmacopoeia.

Always talk with a medical professional before adding a new supplement to your health and wellness routine.

Summary

There’s not enough data on storax to determine the appropriate dose or know the full extent of the risk of adverse reactions. However, it’s likely safe for most people to use in small quantities.

Storax is a type of oily resin, or balsam, derived from the sap of trees in the Sweetgum family. It has been used medicinally for centuries, but there’s very little modern research evaluating its effectiveness for those purposes.

Results from test tube and animal studies suggest storax may be beneficial for fighting certain bacterial and viral infections, reducing inflammation, and treating wounds and ulcers.

Storax may be ingested, inhaled, or applied as a topical ointment, but there’s not enough evidence to determine an ideal dose. It’s best not to deviate from dosing instructions on the supplement label, because mild or severe side effects may occur.

Always talk with a medical professional before adding a supplement to your wellness regimen.