The Miracle of Onycha
by David Stewart, PhD, DNM
Onycha is a Biblical oil mentioned in Exodus 30:34 as an ingredient in the Holy Incense to be diffused in temples of worship. Onycha oil (Styrax benzoin) is also a powerful antiseptic and facilitator of rapid healing. It goes by several common names including Friar's Balm and Javanese Frankincense. It is extracted from the resin of a tree that grows in the Far East, specifically in Indonesia.
For more than 200 years, hospitals have used an alcohol solution of this oil as their primary antiseptic. Dissolved in ethyl alcohol, it is called Benzoin or Tincture of Benzoin. It is the smell of this tincture that used to give hospitals their peculiar "hospital smell."
Following World War II, hospitals started to employ other antiseptics derived from petroleum that were less expensive. They are now discovering that bacteria can become resistent to these synthetic antiseptics, but do not become resistant to Tincture of Benzoin. Hence, many of today's hospitals are returning to the natural antiseptic of Benzoin realizing it is more effective and does not contribute toward the creation of resistant strains of virulent pathogens.
Resistant strains of bacteria are a major and growing problem in hospitals today resulting in thousands of deaths every year. Even visitors to hospitals can pick up these pathogens, which can be fatal. Even the most powerful antibiotics, such as vancomycin and methycillin, do not kill these germs. The answer is to be found in natural products such as essential oils.
Chemistry of Onycha Oil
The chemical composition of onycha oil is unique. It contains more organic acids than any other oil. These include benzoic and cinnamic acids. It also contains a compound named "vanillin aldehyde" which is a dominant compound in the beans of the vanilla plants of tropical South America (Vanilla planifolia and Vanilla aromatica). These are the source of the extract with the distinctive aroma and flavor of vanilla we love so much. A more complete analysis of onycha oil is given in my book, The Chemistry of Essential Oils Made Simple.
Onycha oil is an absolute, extracted from a tree resin by solvents, not by distillation. It is darkly colored and very thick. It will not usually pour through the small opening in the dropper cap of most essential oil bottles.
Onycha as a Healing Oil
Oil of onycha is unparalleled in its therapeutic action on open wounds. Let me give you a couple of examples.
A year or so ago, I was using a sharp knife and was not following the appropriate safety procedures nor common sense. The knife slipped and cut my left thumb down to the bone. It bled profusely. I first applied some frankincense to stop the bleeding, which it did within a few minutes. Then I packed some onycha oil, which is very viscous and thick, into the open wound. I did not use a bandage or bandaid or any other covering. I exposed the wound to sunlight a few times during the day and replenished the onycha oil in the wound several times. The cut began to show signs of healing right away. It did not form a scab. Instead, the wound came together and the two sides began to knit together. It never got infected nor did it get sore. Within a week, it was totally healed with virtually no scar.
Another more dramatic example is with a friend of mine. He was using a power saw when he accidentally let his thumb get into the whirling blade which gouged out a chunk of flesh from the pad of his left thumb. He went to the hospital emergency room where they applyed some antibiotics and other allopathic potions and bandaged it up. A few days later I saw him in church with his bandaged thumb. I mentioned that I had an oil that might help, but he was not interested. "I'll let the doctors take care of it," he said.
The next week at church, his thumb was still bandaged. When I asked him about it he said he had been back to the doctors several times, but the wound was not healing and was festering and getting worse. Again, I mentioned that maybe an essential oil would help. He was still not interested, his faith in allopathy still strong and intact.
Later that week, his wife approached me and asked if there was an oil that might help her husband's thumb to heal, that was not getting any better and that the wound was still open, refusing to seal up and mend itself despite the fact they had applied all the medicines and done everything the doctors had prescribed. I told her about onycha oil. She said she would gladly buy a bottle if I had some. Fortunately, I did have a partial bottle, and sold it to her.
The next Sunday, he came to church with his wife. They were both smiling. "This stuff seems to work," he said. "My thumb is starting to heal. The wound is closed and it is not draining pus any more like it was." His wife went on to say that they had completely stopped using the prescription medications and were using only the oil. I told him to keep applying the onycha, which he did.
Two weeks later he came to church with no bandage. "I can't believe how this thumb has healed up," he exclaimed. "Look," he said, "There is hardly any scar and the missing flesh gouged out of my thumb has grown back. I told my wife," he went on, "We need to get some more of that oil and keep it on hand."
How to Obtain Therapeutic Grade Onycha Oil
At this time, the only way I know to get onycha oil is in the Twelve Oils of Ancient Scripture Kit sold by Young Living. It is not available by itself.