Ancient Healing Scented Oils of Egypt

Even the ancient Egyptians knew the value of a nice-smelling perfume. They created alluring scents with the plants, oils and other ingredients they had at their disposal. Documenting their finds, the civilization became one of the first to record their adventures in making perfumes. Evidence even shows some of the scented oils used by the likes of King Tut and Cleopatra. In this article, you will encounter information behind two popular plant oils , elemi and labdanum.  


When elemi (known as canarium luzonicum) enters a steam distillation process, the resin creates a colorless to pale yellow clear liquid. Originating from the Philippines, elemi is a tropical tree that can reach 98 feet into the air. The yellow resin appears when the leaves are sprouting. Elemi essential oil possesses therapeutic properties that work as an antiseptic, tonic, and expectorant , among other things. Some people describe a peaceful feeling when using the oil. Other uses include treating heavy perspiration, healing wounds and cuts, as well as cutting down on mucus.

The scent of elemi essential oil has been likened to a dill pickle with a hint of citrus. It provides a fresh, clean aroma in the air. Interestingly, elemi oil played a role in the embalming process of the ancient Egyptians. When looking for a proper blend for elemi, choose frankincense, rosemary, myrrh, and lavender.  


A sticky brown resin of labdanum comes from the shrubs known as the Cistus ladanifer species of rockrose that is used in aromatherapy and healing circles. The small sticky shrub produced lance-shaped leaves that were white with furriness on the underside. Fragrant white flowers also grew from the plant. For many years, labdanum had a place in herbal medicine. It was also used to make perfume in ancient Egypt and other places. The scent of labdanum essential oil has been described as warm, sweet, musky, and amber.

During ancient times, the resin was actually collected from the fur of goats and sheep that had grazed on the cistus shrubs. Shepherds would scrape the resin and then sell it to traders on the coast. The resin also played a role in the appearance of pharaohs, as their false beards were made from the hair of goats that had been soaked in labdanum.

Some of the uses of labdanum essential oil include as an antiseptic, astringent, and expectorant. When treating the skin, the resin can come in handy for mature skin and for tending to wrinkles. Other uses of the plant include treating coughs, colds, and rheumatism. If you combine labdanum with frankincense, the blend proves helpful during sessions of meditation. Additional oils to consider for blending include myrrh, sandalwood, pine, cypress, and patchouli.