Sunday, May 1, 2016

Elemi Essential Oil: The Things to Know

nwitimes report
The Philippines is the world's major producer of Elemi. From the resin of the Canarium luzonicum, Elemi essential oil is extracted, and this tree is abundant in the Philippines, particularly in the island of Luzon. For many years, it has been a popular ingredient in a lot of mainstream perfumes and has been regarded highly for its exotic scent and rarity.

Called as the "poor man's frankincense," the elemi shares characteristics similar to frankincense and myrrh. The scent of elemi essential oil is fresh, spicy and lemony, perfect as a middle note for perfumes. It is a natural analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic. Used by countless people to help soothe muscles, calm nerves and aid minor respiratory problems but perhaps the biggest claim to fame of elemi essential oil is its contribution to reduction of wrinkles and rejuvenation of skin.

From Sylvia T. Ramos blog
In a book published by the International Genetic Resources Institute written by Dr. Roberto Coronel, the Canarium luzonicum and its relatives are indigenous to the Philippines. Locally called "malapili" because of its Pili-like qualities, the Canarium luzonicum are of low value to farmers before the resin has been discovered to contain desirable properties for extraction of essential oils. This tree bears fruit like Pili, although inferior. Historically, the resin from C. luzonicum is being used as an ingredient in making plasters, oinments, paints, lacquers, varnishes and inks. Forest dwellers use the elemi resin as torches, rolling it in leaves and lighting it up to serve as their fragrant light for the night.

From PNA Legazpi Bureau
As disclosed by the local farmers of Sorsogon (a province in the Bicol region where a lot of Canarium grows), they only tap the "malapili" trees in the past because they're quite expendable and the extraction of resin eventually kills the tree. In a study published in a Philippine Journal of Science in 1945, among the reasons why the C. luzonicum became the source of elemi is because it gives out sufficient quantities for profitable collection. After collection of the resin from the trees, these are shipped out to Europe for the extraction of Elemi essential oil.

Fast-forward to present times, several innovative individuals began to maximize the commercial potentials of the Pili tree (Canarium ovatum). From just producing pili nuts, other products like pulp oil and essential oil has been extracted. Due to good attention of some agriculturists and plant scientists, farmers were able to devise a way to properly "tap" a Canarium tree for resin without killing it. With this advancement in farming technology, the more common pili tree (C. ovatum) became a good source of elemi and with further processing, become elemi essential oil.

This new development, the production of elemi essential oil may prospectively look good since the sources have more than doubled. The world market may soon be enjoying a bigger supply of the essential oil.

Below is the analysis of the chemical composition of Elemi essential oil. It was done using GC and GC MS analysis.

Components of Elemi Essential Oil
Gloria Manalo, Agustus West, Analysis and Composition of Manila Elemi, The Philippine Journal of Science, 1943
Author Unknown, Promising Fruits of the Philippines
Roberto E. Coronel, Pili Nut Canarium ovatum engl., International Plant Genetic Resources Institute